It's hard to remember when I entered this particular mental stage, but for some time I have felt trapped between the smothering fear of Felicity growing up and the slight bursts of glee when I think of the freedom I will have when she does. This age is everything I couldn't wait for when she was a baby, without the difficulties I perceive will befall us in a few years as she tries to individuate and navigate the rocky shoals of adolescent brain development/hormones.
She is just so much FUN. I mean, she's been a delight since the beginning, but starting around age two we really hit a stride, and since about age five-ish and even more so at six and seven, it's just been 99.5% good. Although I always wish for more time together, we really enjoy the time we do have in the mornings, evenings, and on weekends (gone are my Fridays off, sadly -- four-day work week, I hardly knew ye) and we spend the majority of that time together. Even if it's just running errands, it's so enjoyable to have her company, to go everywhere with my chatty and charming little companion.
(Don't get me wrong, after a full day out and about together, I need to come home and have some TOTAL SILENCE because there really is a lot of talking at me, plus there are draining parenting choices like how much should I influence how she spends her allowance/birthday money, and how many times do I need to tell her not to touch every single item in every single store we go into, and no I cannot carry you because you are over four feet tall and fifty pounds.)
And while she will wake in the morning and just read quietly in her room until I come get her (victory lap!) and she can do a whole lot of things independently, she also still really, really needs me. She loves to snuggle, she initiates hugs all the time, she tells me I'm the greatest Mommy in the world (when I recently Lost It over being late to something, and I later apologized to her about it she replied, "It's okay, Mama. Everyone has their moments sometimes.")
So a part of me is always projecting into the future when she won't want to spend so much time with me; when she'll ignore me and sass me (...a lot more than she does now, which is only occasionally); when she'll prefer her friends to her lame parents; when she'll leave home and I won't be a part of her daily life at all anymore (HOLD ME).
I know, she is SEVEN. She's not packing off to college yet ("Mama! I TOLD you. I am not GOING to college!" -- the current plan is for her to get an apartment in our building so that I can take care of her many pets while she is out dancing for a ballet company all day). And I don't want to waste these good years always thinking about when they'll be over, but given the nature of children and their CONSTANT GROWING UP, it is very difficult to suppress these thoughts sometimes. Sometimes I wonder if this means I should have had a bunch more kids so that I would be like SO over it and like GET OUT OF MY HOUSE by the time the last one grew up, but (a) I suspect it doesn't work that way because probably you still want to cling to them like barnacles; and (b) the one million reasons why this wouldn't have worked on a practical level, anyway. Well, and (c) I would still feel this way about FELICITY so it doesn't much solve that part, and I'd have less time with just her, which is what I fear losing anyway.
These thoughts are much more on my mind than the fleeting moments when I am like, Dude when she is done with the eighty million years of schooling (and I suspect she will change her mind about college at some point, thought I would sure as heck be on board with the current plan) we are going to be ROLLING IN DISPOSABLE INCOME (assuming we have any savings left) and we will travel according to our own schedule without regard to school or anything else and when we go do stuff it will be at our own pace and without having to, say, be begged for a Beanie Boo EVERY SINGLE TIME we go to the corner drug store.
But I don't know, these attempts at bright-siding really pale in comparison to what we have right now, which is so good that it's difficult not to try to hold onto it with all my strength. I mean, assuming nothing unthinkable happens, I will always have Felicity. I mean, she'll always be my daughter, right? And in my mind we will grow to be wonderful mother/daughter friends and she won't move far away (or, ha-HA! I will follow her if she does!) and we'll talk all the time and go get pedicures and I'll babysit her child (she plans to have one, a girl, "who is sweet and kind just like me") and care for her pets (she plans to have cats, dogs, birds, and mice -- we will work on this aspect of the plan). And it will be different, but great in its own way.
The other thing I want to talk about is the hyperventilation-inducing flood of Kid Stuff that you try valiantly to hold back when they are little (asking birthday guests not to bring gifts (which they swiftly ignore); only buying new stuff for holidays and birthdays; buying minimalist-looking toys; rotating toys in and out of storage bins, etc) but that by age seven is threatening to engulf your entire home (and that is with ONE CHILD).
Our issue is largely that I ever-so-carefully bought toys that I thought would last and "grow with the child" -- and THEY DO. Which means that the toys STAY and new ones KEEP COMING IN, so you never get rid of anything. And now Felicity has a bit of her own money (a very small allowance and occasional income from birthdays/holidays) which she spends on little trinkets and stuffed animals, primarily. And the books. Oh, my. We have SO MANY BOOKS, and that is after I decided a couple of years ago not to buy more than a handful of books a year because: libraries. We love having books! We love to read and encourage reading, and books are heirlooms and time capsules and all the rest. But we live in 1,000 square feet. The dolls, stuffed animals, books, fragile trinkets, art supplies, Lego sets, animal figurines, tiny collectibles (Num Noms and Shopkins and Splashkins and Littlest Pet Shop and Pusheen and ON IT GOES), books, clothing (which also hardly ever goes out because she can wear as tops the dresses she had when she was TWO, I am not even kidding).
And I really love the spark of joy that Felicity gets from getting gifts and she does play with most of her stuff, but OH MY there is SO MUCH STUFF.
I have Issues about stuff. I am a cleaner-outer and an underbuyer and I guess sort of an ascetic. I like neatness and I love to clear clutter. I feel extremely anxious when the refrigerator is very full (how will we eat all this food before it goes bad??) and the closets are stuffed (I can't find anything!). I am anti-abundance when it comes to things. And yet, here is my child, my polar opposite in this regard (except that she does pretty well with neatness). Every year as Christmas approaches, I have to do a full-house purge and donate bags and bags of stuff, but she will not part with ANYTHING. She has a mental inventory of every single tiny thing in her room, down to the cheap erasers and plastic gew-gaws that they give out at every damned birthday party, and she can't be moved even by stories of children who have no toys to allow me to donate it.
So this, too, gives me agita and I don't know what to do about it and Christmas is only eight months away...