Thursday, October 16, 2008

That Queasy Anxious Feeling

I came close to a real panic attack today. I have lived through panic attacks through loved ones, and I don't mean to joke about such a frightening experience. Honestly. But I'm only half-joking.

Yesterday Troy brought donuts home from this yummy little bakery in Austin. Only half a dozen, thank goodness. The boys screamed so loudly, you would have thought he gave them a million dollars. This bakery happens to bake my favorite kind of donut in the whole world, the one I really can't find anywhere else, now that Krispy Kreme no longer exists in Minnesota. I'm talking about a light, fluffy roll with fluffy white creme filling in the center. The Krispy Kreme version was glazed, and the rolls from this bakery are dusted with granulated sugar. Since Austin is an hour away, it's not like I can get another donut like that whenever I want. There is -- no, there was -- one of them left in the box. I really wanted it. I knew if I didn't eat it now, someone else was going to eat it, or it would be hard in the box in the morning, instead of soft and creamy like it was right at that moment.

I had finally decided that I was not going to eat it, No Matter What, and even though I felt empowered, I also felt pretty nervous. I didn't know when I would get my next donut fix. Bravely, I cut the donut in half and commanded the boys to eat it.

As if that weren't enough to conquer emotionally -- because most of us know that food is twenty percent nutrition and eighty percent emotion -- Mitch picked that exact moment to ask me in his sweetest voice, "Mom, how much longer am I going to be a kid?"

That is the moment when I should have taken a deep cleansing breath, but instead, I couldn't breathe. First, no donut. Next, my kid, my baby, is reminding me that he is only going to be a kid for thirteen more years.

I looked at him, sitting in the booster chair that he doesn't really need anymore, wearing the size six diaper that he doesn't really need anymore either, but he loves them both with his whole being. His blue eyes were animated and his blonde curls, a little too long. He looked so little with no other clothes on, and I smiled when I saw the curve of his little shoulders and his round tummy. For a child who doesn't even weigh forty pounds, he was asking such a big boy question. He looked at me earnestly for my response. This week we have been working on recognizing numbers, putting them in order, reading a calendar, and adding, and I knew the mathematical answer was really important to him.

I answered in my teacher voice, which came out sounding kind of like the silly high voice I use in music class, "Well, I hope you stay a kid even when you are an adult."

I knew that answer wasn't enough , so I added, in my normal voice, "But most people say you are an adult when you are eighteen, so ... that ... gives you ............. thirteen more years," pretending to do the math, when I was really just buying time to not have to say the number out loud. I could have won an Emmy for that one-liner, because my words were matter-of-fact, even casual, completely devoid of the sad, nervous feeling that was spreading to my fingertips, my voice, my lungs. I didn't want Mitch to feel the pressure of not growing up just to keep his mom happy. If he chooses to be childlike, curious, excited, spirited, imaginative, playful, and full of big dreams for his whole life, I want him to choose that because it feels so good, not because his mom can't imagine him being all grown up. I felt that panicky feeling inside of me again, inside my chest near my heart and lungs, but maybe it was really a moment of chaos in my soul. I've heard that people see the years of their life flash before them in moments of trouble. I was trying to see the years of my life that have not yet happened: days without bathtime fights as I wash the shampoo from his hair, nights when the only teeth I brush are my own, afternoons to read a grown-up book instead of a kids' chapter book. Those are the moments that many moms wait for, especially at the end of a long day, or in the middle of a tantrum at Target. Sometimes I do that, too. But mostly I want these days to last and last and they are going too fast.

So suddenly the donut thing wasn't such a big deal anymore.

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