Barbie and Her Epiphanies

After 12 years, you would think I would be somewhat of a Barbie expert. It appears not. Yes, there’s been some insights, the brilliance of the Barbie swimming pool. The expense of the caravan. I have learnt that the best Barbies are the ones with knees that bend. That fashionistas are preferable and fake Barbies are break Barbies. I have listened as people have put in requests to Granny months ahead of birthdays. “You remember the one we saw in Big W? The one with the white dress that went out kind of like that *swooping gestures are made over hips*. You remember the one in the white. You don’t remember? Granny will remember. Tell Granny, she’ll remember.”

Today, with some left over birthday money a new Barbie came out of her box. And although she had a cat with its own litter tray (sand included), her pony tail was wrong. “I want to take the hairband out, I want her hair long down her back. Can we cut the hair band off?” Group discussions were held over the effect of the kink, how would the hair fall? Conditioner was retrieved, hair dryers plugged, and then me, the adult in the room, came up with an idea. I knew exactly what to do about the kink.

The hair straightener.

And even as I plugged it in, watched it warm up, and began to section Barbies hair, it never once occurred to me that Barbie’s hair was about to crackle. It was a gasp which began from one mouth and collectively gained momentum in the room. “Mummy she’s smoking!”

And as I blew out the smoking Barbie, with promises of “it’s only a tiny bit, she looks exactly the same”. I marvelled at this parenting business. Just when you thought you knew it all.

Some things are learnt through experience, perhaps while running towards a sink with a flaming Barbie in your hand. Others are learnt with time. They are the things you knew but refused to acknowledge. The words you’ve been told, the wisdom you’ve been offered – but were just not ready to hear.

From the moment you hold your baby in your arms, it is a slow and gradual process of letting go.

My epiphany came today. After two graduations; one child will go to High School next year, the other will begin Middle School. For the very first time I will not have a child in the Lower Elementary School, I will no longer be surrounded by the little, little people. Although my baby is eight and still hugs me goodbye, holds my hand, and crawls into my bed in the dark of the night – I have now officially moved to another phase.

It’s too easy as a mother to live in a world of nostalgia. In a school ceremony today I was asked to reflect back on my soon to be Middle Schooler, to remember her as a baby, as a preschooler… I chose an alternative route. I chose to look forward. I chose to look forward for her and for me.

For all of my motherhood years I’ve been told to hold on, it will go too fast, just treasure every minute – and I have. I have six thousand photos on my iPhone to prove it, stretch marks and winkles, inside family jokes, soccer balls, baseball bats, ballet shoes and science sets. We have had uncontrolable tears and raucous laughter. We have lived. We have treasured. We have grown and will continue to grow. It’s not scary, it’s not sad. It’s what makes us, us. Our story.

If you are insanely in love with your four year old, just wait until you meet your 14 year old. You will be forced to be honest, made to face realities, and often challenged on the spot. You will continue to hug, to giggle, to disagree (even more spectacularly than when she was age three). Her growth will inspire yours as it suddenly dawns on you that perhaps you need to listen to some of your own advice. You will sob at her achievements because only you will truly understand them.

This is just but one step in our family’s story. I will one day stand at my own graduation with my children in the audience, G will eventually crack 100 kms on his bike. The travellers will one day remember to flush the toilet. We will grow, live in different houses, travel independently, Skype in our pyjamas, gather together at the beach house, and perfect the chocolate love heart cake. This is our story.

We have treasured. We will continue to do so. Looking forward.

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