Since September began and both my school-going girls snuggled into a routine of getting up-breakfast-school-home-eat-homework-sleep-school (The constant go-go-go life is another topic of its own), I found myself sliding back into my role as a mom who needed to plan out activities all week long to keep my toddler occupied. I’ve been here before, granted it was a few years ago, when my now seven and five year olds were three and two year olds.
It was almost as if I rewinded the tape and found myself retracing all the steps I took to get here. I looked up the same activities I had once planned with my elder two, playgroups I had stopped frequenting, storytimes I’d left behind as my kids grew out of their toddlerhood and into daycare and preschool age. I had to dig back and remember what I ever did all day with those two? And boy was it a trip down memory lane, but such a different feeling this time…
Amina turned two in October, and she was born at the brink of what would be the most challenging time for all parents out there. There were so many things that she hadn’t done, but that’s okay because she was only a year old so I didn’t feel like she missed too much. Plus- she didn’t know any better. But I did.
We began with what I started with as a first time mom, using our local and free resources, mainly our library. The weather was good, it was fall and pleasant outside. I would take her to outdoor storytimes since these were safer and could be done with social distancing. Then as it grew colder, I would take her to the indoor library storytimes, the same ones I would religiously attend with my elder girls, years ago. The difference was, what once used to be overflowing with children, now had capacity limits and an extremely low number of people showing up. The librarians had their masks on, as did we. And it was like looking at the ghost of how it used to be…a multipurpose room brimming with children everywhere, was now sealed off. Storytime was split into 2-3 sections so that families can socially distance, and my heart sank because it was nothing like my memories.
But Amina enjoyed it and continues to enjoy it each time I take her there.
I took her to the same Chuck E. Cheese I would take my daughters on Tuesdays when they would have pizza deals. At age two and half, my daughters had been to Chuck E. Cheese countless times, this would be Amina’s very first visit. I took her to Princeton Playspace, another favorite. I took her to our gym’s Mommy & Me Zumbini class and still do each week. And just like that I was doing what I once did years ago, now this time with just one child. It’s so hard for me not to think of all those days that felt like forever, that are now gone and buried in the past. Do my children even remember those days? Will Amina ever remember this?
I thought about all this long and hard for the past couple of months. And to me it almost feels like grieving something that is lost to me. Even though I am doing all of this again with my third child, I sort of grieve (for lack of a better word) and almost long for what I had once, which was both my elder ones at this age. It’s gone and I won’t get that back, and I wont get this back either. This is not the same as they were…This is what motherhood looks like.