Younger moms may look at me and be a bit jealous of the freedom I am now enjoying.
After all, all of MY children can wipe themselves, top and bottom.
I haven't heard, "M-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-m, come WIPE me" for years.
I haven't had to say, "Blow. No, blow harder. Try again, I know it's up there. OK, Mommy will just have to go in after it."
I don't have to gather up dirty clothes from closets, beds, bathrooms, diaper bags, cars and drawers. I can live by the hard and fast rule that if the clothes aren't in the laundry hamper, they don't get washed. Which means, one of my male children can end up having up to a week's worth of sweatshirts mildewing in the backyard before he finds them and washes them himself.
I don't have to carry extra diapers, wipes, sippy cups, Cheerios, books, a change of clothes, bottles, toys and pacifiers. I don't even have a diaper bag. Instead, I carry a 15 pound purse with a journal and a camera, to capture all the things my crazy kids say and do; personal care items to fix up after my kids razzle me; and a wallet with no money. I even beg the clerks at the grocery store to not tell my kids when I dare to ask for cash back. Teenagers can sniff out money better than pigs can sniff out truffles.
I no longer ask them if they washed their hands. I have abandoned the following song-n-dance routine we used to perform.
"Did you wash your hands?"
"Did you use warm water?"
"Did you use soap?"
"Did you lather the soap?"
"Did you rinse the soap off?"
"Did you dry them on a towel?"
"Let me smell them. SNIFFFFFFF. OK, go back and wash your hands."
You have to ask ALL of those questions, because a kid's definition of washing hands is not a mom's definition of washing hands.
Some kids do the fingertip swipe. They dip them under water then streak them across the towel. It's a well-practiced fluid motion.
Some actually get the whole hands wet, don't bother to use soap, and then dry them off on their pants.
Some use soap, but forget the water and head right for the towel.
Some squirt on the soap, then promptly rinse it off without actually lathering up.
I was taught by an older friend to show my kids how to make "white gloves" to ensure they properly lather.
You also have to smell them, because a kid's definition of telling the truth is not the same as a mom's definition of telling the truth. If they intended to wash their hands, their hands are clean. If they washed them ANYTIME that day, they think they can freely answer "YES" to that question for the rest of the day.
I also don't have to dress or undress any of my kids. Of course, I might still veto some of their clothing choices, but for the rest of the ritual, they are on their own.
To foster their independence ( and mine, wink, wink) the older kids make their own dentist and doctor appointments and are required to put them in my Outlook calendar so I remember to bring them. Then, they know to find my purse, cell phone and keys to help me get out the door in time.
So what do I do with all my free time?
Sit around being a little jealous of the moms with younger kids.
I achingly miss all the touching. You touch each younger kid many times a day, as they come for comfort, encouragement, attention, answers, luvies, or to wipe something on your shirt.
When they thought they were too old to be held, they would pretend to be babies, just to settle back into my willing arms for a few more snuggles.
I cringeded with their pain when they crashed into the coffee table or fell off their bikes, but I cherished having that mommy power that so easily soothed.
So, I spend a little time each day, just missing the little bodies and having the ability to fulfill the needs they once had.
Maybe I should go see if someone has a booger…...