But what many people simply don't understand is that we are not parenting the norm. We are parenting children whose childhoods were interrupted, or never really ever truly began. It creates within them a deep hunger for what was missed, and it is our gut feeling that if we don't somehow provide that in the ways we can, we will be in for big trouble down the road, for the soul never rests until it has been allowed to move through each developmental stage and process it, or at the very least to revisit a stage that was never fully experienced to work it all out.
Once in the past we had this happen, and here we are again. Angela and Olesya both asked us if they could have baby bottles. They were playing with our friends daughter and after she left one night Olesya said "I never had a baby bottle, I wish I have one." I explained that she most likely did have one but couldn't remember it, but that seemed to have little impact, and Angela jumped in saying "I want baby bottle too! Please Mama, we have baby bottle?" and then both proceeded to ask a couple more times before I realized this was one of those stages we need to revisit. Today at Walmart, along with a light bulb for an Easy Bake oven, we purchased 6 baby bottles.
They were opened up before we even left the parking lot.
Upon arrival at home, all 5 kids grabbed their baby bottles and filled them with milk or lemonade. We talked about being rocked as little babies, and Matthew grinned as he remembered the songs I made up and sang to him. I told them all they each had to let me rock them with their bottles, and Kenny reminded me that I did just that with him when he came home. What I loved most was that there wasn't a single moment of embarrassment out of any of them over this, and in fact when we had to go get haircuts each child brought their baby bottle along with them in the car, Olesya's tucked safely inside a handmade purse at her hip.
Weird? Yea, I'll give you that, but then nobody ever accused us of being normal. I'd much rather get strange looks from unknown others and meet our kids unique needs than to worry about what is being said behind our back. We had no time for rocking this evening, but I intend to do just that tomorrow, even Angela with her long, gangly legs looked at me eagerly when I offered. I can't imagine not doing it, for it is what our children need, and I am their mother...the one who is supposed to meet those nurturing needs.
This ongoing desire to step back in time, to be mothered and fathered by their new parents, is ramping up. Talking to Olesya yesterday about her birthday and being such a big girl she looked at me with pain filled eyes and said "But Mama...I not that old, I still a little, little girl, OK?" as she begged me to allow her to have the time she needs to step back, then gradually grow up at a slower pace.
I am grateful beyond words for the boys, who shrug their shoulders and say "Hand one over!" rather than hoot and holler about how silly or babyish it is.
Our little 11 year old needs to be 8 or 9 for awhile, or maybe even 4 or 5, and we are doing our darnedest to allow it for as long as we can. They both need to live in the magical world of the tooth fairy and Santa Clause, at least for a little while. They need to play with baby dolls and stuffed animals for as long as they might need to so that they can then gradually move forward at a speed that works for them...and they need to be protected while this process occurs. They need Barbies and Little Pet Shops, bubbles and glow sticks. They need lullabies and loving snuggles for a long time to come.
They also need the freedom to be the wise old woman that resides within each of them which makes herself known on occasion, and that wisdom deserves to be respected. It can be mind boggling difficult to keep up with, but recognizing the two worlds our daughters are trapped between is terribly important. It validates their life experience, and it keeps them from feeling so alone.
And after all, childhood is not that long anyway. Let 'em have it while they still can.