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I’m a Marilla Now

storytelling

“What you need is some Baby Windex,” I said to my friend-slash-work-pal, Lindsay, after she mentioned that she’s giving her baby a quick bath after every meal. Her voice got frantic and excited.

“Baby Windex?! I need that. What is that?”

My earbuds are in and attached to the oversized phone in my back pocket while I interrupt our work call for a mom segue.

“It’s Mustela something-something, but you squirt a little on a tissue or a washcloth and it’s — I don’t know how to describe it as anything other than Baby Windex. I thought I came up with this description on my own but a cursory google search tells me other people refer to it as Baby Windex, too. It’s great for after meals or little kid trips to the bathroom. Almost as good as a bath. I still keep my linen closet stocked with it.”

You know, parent readers, how when you had your baby, there was always some older lady in the grocery store who would get a little too close and seem a little too excited and would say creepy things like “I could put your baby on a hard roll and just EAT him”?

I can feel myself morphing into that. In Target, I found myself hunched over a stroller like a gargoyle, having a full conversation with a baby that couldn’t respond. At school drop-off, I joked about “just wanting to sniff” another mom’s three month old.

Life pro tip: don’t tell strangers you want to sniff their children.

Remmy’s seven, Sophie’s six, and Minnie’s a few weeks shy away from turning four. When I think about the days I had a three-year-old, a two-year-old, and a newborn, I want to travel back in time and give myself a good game butt slap and a Wayne’s World “We’re not worthy” chant.

It’s a whole new world for us now. Jack and I aren’t sleep-deprived (or if we are, it’s out of our own volition, and not due to quotidian baby wake-up calls). We’ve been diaper-free for two years. On the weekends we can hop in the car with the girls and head out without having to worry about rushing back in time for the Sacred 1pm Nap. We can plan to go to the local rock gym’s open climb and all of us can participate. Yesterday all three of them were sitting and reading books — Remmy was quietly absorbed in a chapter book, while Sophie read a book to Minnie.

And while I love it, I have to tamp down the awful feeling that time is slipping away.

I was sitting in a restaurant alone, getting some work done, and I saw a mother and her teenage daughter walk in. The younger seemed polite, but bored, and it hit me that at some point — maybe when my kids are 17, 16, and almost 14 — that Mom and Dad are no longer going to be their first choice for dinner company. That on some Friday nights, instead of the five of us chattering around the dinner table, noise levels slightly higher than what I deem to be pleasant, it’ll be me and Jack and the sound of the evening news.

I started reading to the girls at the breakfast table. It’s a nice way for us to take a pause as the day starts and spend a little time together. They sit and eat their oatmeal while I read a chapter of Anne of Green Gables out loud to them. That book (and accompanying books) was such a big part of my childhood, that sharing it with them — I declared that I’ve been waiting my whole mom life for this — has been really incredible for me. We cried together during Anne’s “You don’t want me because I’m not a boy?” speech and sat in suspense over Minnie May being sick with the croup.

anne-of-green-gables

We’re nearing the end, and I’ve been worried about the chapter where Matthew passes away. I keep making a mental note to time it so I’m reading it to them at night, and not right before I usher them out the front door to go to school.

But I’m finding that the story is hitting me in unexpected ways, too. My throat caught a little during this morning’s reading:

“The child she had learned to love had vanished somehow and here was this tall, serious-eyed girl of fifteen … Marilla loved the girl as much as she had loved the child, but she was conscious of a queer, sorrowful sense of loss.”

It continues on to how Marilla sat in her house alone and cried. And for the first time ever in the span of dozens of times I’ve read the book and even more dozens of times I’ve watched the movie, it’s not Anne I’m relating to — it’s her sixty-year old caretaker, Marilla.

Maybe it’s why I’m happy to scoop a baby out of a friend’s hands and give her a break. Maybe it’s why I’m happy to share recommendations for Baby Windex and bedtime clocks. It’s mostly because I remember how hard the baby days were and I sympathize, but maybe it’s a little bit of a reminder of the days when my now alarmingly tall Remmy was a tiny bundle that I held in the crook of my arm. And that the passing of each phase of childhood makes me happy and a little sad at the same time.

I’ll try not to go full gargoyle next time I run into you and your baby at Target. No promises, though.

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26 Comments

  • Reply Lindsay Durrenberger February 29, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    ????????????????????????????????????????????????

    • Reply Roo February 29, 2016 at 6:36 pm

      ????????????????????????????????????????????????

  • Reply Lindsey February 29, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    ????✊

  • Reply Heather Laura Clarke February 29, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    *slow clap* This is totally me, lately. My baby’s about to turn four, too, and my oldest will be six shortly after. I’d like to go back and babysit for my exhausted self with a one-year-old and a newborn because oyyyyyyy that was rough. (Luckily a few of my friends have babies that I can steal and snuggle, because CHEEKS!)

    • Reply Roo February 29, 2016 at 6:44 pm

      I feel you. I was way too hard on myself.

  • Reply Sandra Authier February 29, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    This would be why I suddenly and impulsively had a fourth child when my youngest was 6 and I thought we were done. I’m now the proud mommy to my 4th baby girl. She is the best decision ever, and I get to prolong that “mommy-to-littles” stage a bit longer.

    • Reply Roo February 29, 2016 at 6:48 pm

      Ohhh, that is the sweetest! Congratulations, Sandra.

  • Reply Caitlin @ {walker whimsy} February 29, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    I just had my last baby five months ago, so we’re definitely still in the Baby-Windex-is-our-jam phase, but I’m already getting little pricks of nostalgia. It only happens during the few minutes a day I’m not wiping someone/something (the other three are almost 5, 3 and 2), but I’m trying to use it as a reminder to be present and enjoy each stage as it comes.

    It works like 24.7% of the time. :D

    • Reply Roo February 29, 2016 at 6:15 pm

      “Enjoy this stage.”

      “Yea, rando at Whole Foods. I’m trying. Also you’re not the boss of me.”

  • Reply Leigh Ann February 29, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    This is SO much where I am right now. I had 3 babies in less than 2 years, and I would not want to relive those days for anything. But I would give almost anything to be able to hug those little squishy toddlers again, just for one day. Now when we are at a friend’s house, I grab her 8 month old away from her any chance I get. I mean, I give him back, and so maybe that’s part of the appeal, but you know. :)

    (We love reading at the breakfast table too! It’s also a good way to ensure they don’t get too unruly.)

    • Reply Roo February 29, 2016 at 6:50 pm

      Totally. I keep volunteering to snuggle babies.

  • Reply Nichole February 29, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    I’m sitting in the grocery store parking lot reading this while my 10 month old naps in the car. Trying not to cry because I’m a combination of sleep-deprived and sad that she’s almost 1 and I already miss her being so tiny. Also, hormones.

  • Reply Rachel February 29, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    This maternal tick must have skipped over me. My kids are 4 and almost 7 and I’m practically giddy that they’re not babies!

    • Reply Roo February 29, 2016 at 6:15 pm

      I’m totally psyched that we’re out of the baby stage, but I think it’s more of the realization that it’s going to go by really fast and before I know it, I’ll be an empty nester because my babies will all LEAVE me and sobbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb.

      You know, that whole downward spiral. Hahahaha.

      • Reply Rachel February 29, 2016 at 6:20 pm

        I guess I don’t think that far into the future! Shoot, I’m lucky if I can figure out what’s for dinner before 5pm :/

  • Reply Rachel February 29, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    I guess I don’t think that far into the future! Shoot, I’m lucky if I can figure out what’s for dinner before 5pm :/

  • Reply Rachel A February 29, 2016 at 10:02 pm

    I just love this so much. My daughter is 22 months and we’re trying for #2 – with some frustrations, because I miscarried a couple months ago. I’ve always been a crier, but motherhood has made me the sappiest, most emotional version of myself ever. I choked up reading Madeline to her the other day because Miss Clavel is just so caring and wise, you know? (Oh, how I can’t wait for her to be old enough for Anne of Green Gables!)

  • Reply Courtney W February 29, 2016 at 10:23 pm

    A stranger kissed my baby in IHOP the other day–full on lip contact. She said, “I can do that because I’m a grandmother.” Yes, honey, but you aren’t OUR grandmother. I could definitely have used some Baby Windex ????

    • Reply Roo March 7, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      Bahhhhh Courtney I’m so grossed out on your behalf.

  • Reply Brittney March 2, 2016 at 12:42 am

    Thanks for all the feels with this one. High five on the baby windex, it is seriously a lifesaver. I am currently rocking the 3/2/newborn and can’t even imagine my youngest being four. I mean, what am I going to do with all of my leisure time when everyone can wipe their own tush? :)

  • Reply Alayna March 2, 2016 at 10:49 am

    And this friend is insanely grateful for the break :) This post gave me allll the feels ::slow finger circle::

    • Reply Roo March 7, 2016 at 12:45 pm

      Gimme your baby alllll the time, pls. ::slow finger circle::

  • Reply Sharon Koenig March 3, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    “Sniff babies” Hilarious! Yeah I really get that. My youngest is 7 and we still snuggle of course. This article takes me back to when she lost her baby rolls. You know how kids have that lean out phase from being chubby infants to toddlers? That was tough for me. The little baby fat just makes you want to squish them, it’s addicting. There is definitely a side of me though that is glad to be beyond the baby phase but I can’t help myself when I see one of my friend’s babies and pour some mama love on ’em.

  • Reply Jen March 5, 2016 at 10:35 am

    I just wanted to chime in because I’m so happy to see you reading “Anne of Green Gables” to your children. I live in Prince Edward Island and I get so excited to see where this story travels! Also, your blog is very fun :)
    My youngest sister has red hair – you can only imagine how many Anne references she’s gotten over the years!

  • Reply MichelleLG March 9, 2016 at 9:59 am

    We just had baby #3 less than two weeks ago (in fact, I’m reading/commenting while nursing in my room, occasionally shouting commands and comforts to my 2yo and almost-4yo who are running rampant through the rest of the house).
    I’m 33 and with 3 under 4 we are for sure done making tiny humans (the sleep deprivation is HARD yo).
    So, I’m right in the center of the bittersweet. Spending most my waking moments nuzzling this squishy last baby (a son! What?!), and holding my toddlers pudgy hands with knuckle dimples, and crying but also SO THANKFUL that my 4yo is old enough to actually be a HELP to me and her siblings- this is new territory andnits glorious. We are relieved that our family is complete (me to maternity clothes: “smell ya later!”), but you’re right, the awareness that time is passing and moving us toward the natural ” end” is heartbreaking too. :(
    Still, I can’t wait for the freedom and new enjoyment you’re describing. :)

    Thanks for giving me a place for sleep deprived ramblings to sort out all the feels. And yes, Ann for life. But also now, Marilla.

    • Reply Roo March 23, 2016 at 9:37 pm

      Congrats on baby #3 Michelle!! Lemme fly to you and snuggle that baby for you. You’re welcome to ramble here any time. xo

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