Yesterday, I left work and picked up Maren and headed home. The Husband had gotten Brynna from school already and they were at home waiting on us. Maren is a little like a very high wattage light bulb. She brightens any room, but after a while, it's easy to find yourself wishing you had one of those nice 40 watt bulbs. It's not that the bright light isn't nice, it's just that it kinda wears you out.
Maren and I played peek a boo in the rearview mirror for - I kid you not - 20 minutes. We also argued about whether or not there were cupcakes in my purse. (There were not, but by the time I convinced her that there were no cupcakes in my purse, I would have given her 10 just to change the subject.) By the time we walked in the door, I was ready for a hot bath and bed. Unfortunately, it was only 6:00.
When I came in, Brynna sat at the kitchen computer on barbie.com, her homework done, her chores complete, ready for anything. We talked at supper about real world math problems and her upcoming Valentine's party at school. (Valentines is a big deal because the kids are only allowed candy at school on Halloween and Valentine's.)
Later that night, sitting in the bathroom floor and clapping for Maren as she pottied, I realized that this is just what growing up looks like. I might have to chase Maren through the house asking her seven or eight times to take her dolly in her room. I may have to remind her every. freaking. day. not to throw her coat on the floor when she walks in the door. I might have to play peek a boo until I want to rip that blankie to shreds and I might have to spend a good portion of my time sitting on the floor in the bathroom waiting for her to pee. But it won't always be that way.
And yeah, it isn't all peaches and roses with Brynna either. I still spend a fair amount of time reminding her about that whole coat-floor situation. And even though she's showering on her own now, she won't let me leave the bathroom yet. And there's homework checking and spelling word quizzing and really, it's just as hands on and time consuming as it is with Maren.
But the challenges I have with Brynna now (longer bedtime stories, homework help, historical lessons, interesting words heard on TV, etc.) are bigger, scarier, and honestly - more fun.
The other day I was whining about something or other (Woe is me. I don't know who I am?) and Suze commented that she thinks it'll get better as my kids get older. I wasn't so sure at the time, but sitting in that floor last night, I realized that maybe she was right. When I spend time with Brynna, I'm still trying to be Mommy - the amazing superheroine who can leap tall buildings in a single bound and can and will take a bullet for her, but I'm also me. I listen to my music, I play my games, I read scary books and love anything about magic. She knows I would rather watch Doctor Who on Saturday morning that Magic School Bus. And she almost always thanks me when I give in and watch Mrs. Frizzle. Although I still maintain that the cybermen are actually less scary first thing in the morning.
When we talk, I tell her stories about when I was younger, I tell her about the books I'm reading (leaving out the gory bits) and about the band names I made up at work while I was bored. She tells me about what the girls at school like, and what she wants to paint and the band names she makes up at school.
It's amazing to watch Maren grow up. To watch her figure things out and put the world together. There is so much magic to a toddler. Everything they see is something new and exciting to be explored and plumbed to its depths. I watch her and I am overwhelmed at the beauty of a learning, growing child. I love to teach her things, to hear her say, "Oh!" when she gets it and watch her put that knowledge into play. I get so caught up in the magic of her that sometimes I forget the more subtle magic I see in Brynna.
It's a different kind of magic. It's wood nymphs to Maren's dragons, but it's no less amazing. There is so much to do and explain and explore with a big kid. So much world to understand. So much that she didn't have the patience for before. I think I'm gonna like this phase. And while I would never wish away Maren's littlehood, I am pretty sure that I'm gonna be thankful when she's a big kid, if for no other reason than Brynna will be a dreaded pre-teen.