Our Town: Act 3, Mark Duplass & Perspective on Kids

I was playing at the playground yesterday with my son, who is currently two years and nine months old. I was playing at a playground where I used to take my middle son, now five. I was looking at my little one – in my middle son’s old clothes – standing in the exact place where my middle son stood three years ago and thinking how time flies.

The Mint Chip Mama - Our Town: Act 3, Mark Duplass & Perspective on Kids

Children grow up quickly. This is not breaking news. They also drive us nuts. Equally not breaking news. But sometimes the latter clouds the enjoyment of the former. I was thinking about this after my friend sent me a post from actor and director Mark Duplass about keeping your kids’ annoying AF behavior in perspective. For example (and this may or may not have been happening to spark the sending of said text): when your two year old busts into the bathroom to ask you why you bought a new toaster and then hands you a snow sled. Do you laugh or scream? I believe Duplass’s point is just to remember in that moment – you’ll look back at these things “with wonder” in 2040.

The Mint Chip Mama - Our Town: Act 3, Mark Duplass & Perspective on Kids

Funny enough, I often think about this when I need to breathe through whatever chaos is going on in my house. In other words – every day. I tell myself they’ll all be out of the house one day and I’ll be the lady telling new moms in stores to enjoy them when they’re little.

The Mint Chip Mama - Our Town: Act 3, Mark Duplass & Perspective on Kids

Standing there in the park – in that longitudinal spot (and if you know me you know that I love longitudinal studies) –  I couldn’t help but think about this concept.

 

I have three small kids. I was thinking while looking at #3 what my life was like when I just had #1 and she was this age. She is now nine years old. Having a nine-year-old and a two-year-old is a bit of a reminder of this every day. I think how she used to exist solely on my milk and now she microwaves herself oatmeal every morning.

 

I do often look at #1 and think what it was like having only a two-year-old. Besides having patients, less wrinkles, and energy, we lived in an urban vs. suburban setting in a one-bedroom apartment vs. a house.

My days consisted of taking her to the park by the subway and dressing her in girly, frilly, dressy things including her prized pink ballet attire (because as girl moms that’s what we do). We used to spend our days us against the world with Manhattan at our fingertips. No stroller – just a backpack, the MTA and endless opportunities.

The Mint Chip Mama - Our Town: Act 3, Mark Duplass & Perspective on Kids

Now she gets on a bus, goes to school, comes home, does her homework herself, showers herself, makes lunch, and then sits and reads a book until I get the boys to bed and we can hang out together. I feel like I don’t get to see her and don’t get to talk to her despite spending all night together.

The Mint Chip Mama - Our Town: Act 3, Mark Duplass & Perspective on Kids

Next, we have #2, who is five and in kindergarten. I write proverbial sonnets to him at night apologizing for treating him as the stereotypical “middle kid”. When he was #3’s age, I already had his little brother. We lived in the suburbs and I was just a super stressed mom of three trying to do everything I could to stay sane. So basically, every day was just about survival when he was this age. He is so sweet and delicious and somehow has also learned how to get on the same bus, come home, do his homework, play with Legos, shower and wait for me to pay attention to him at bedtime.

The Mint Chip Mama - Our Town: Act 3, Mark Duplass & Perspective on Kids

Back to #3. He is a fantastic two-year-old – happy and cute as can be – except for when he’s moaning in my face for hours, fighting his nap, waking up at night, and being insane. But also, sometimes he just hugs me and tells me he loves me. Very often when I change his diaper and look at this little tush I think about the other little tushies I used to change who now go to the bathroom themselves. Perspective.

 

I like to think about this stuff sometimes because it helps get me through the insanity that is three kids. Perspective. “The days are long, but the years are short”. I also often think of the scene in “Parenthood” when Steve Martin’s head spins out as he reflects on his Grandma’s line about life being like a roller coaster. He had three kids. Yep. Every day. Perspective.

The Mint Chip Mama - Our Town: Act 3, Mark Duplass & Perspective on Kids

This morning I was telling my dad how I’m taking my kids to Sesame Street Live! on Sunday. He said he vividly remembers taking ME – close to four decades ago – and how excited I was to meet Big Bird. Or in other words – Turn, Turn, Turn.

The Mint Chip Mama - Our Town: Act 3, Mark Duplass & Perspective on Kids

I try to remember this – but I don’t. Tomorrow I will try harder. Next time they’re going nuts because they need me to get them water, make dinner, check their homework, find their shoes, find the other mitten, need help closing a Ziploc bag, need a rubber band, still can’t find their shoes, need a pencil sharpened, ask for Parmesan cheese, ask again because I can’t do it while I’m doing 19 other things, don’t like their dinner after I made exactly what they asked for, can’t find the soap (usually in front of them) in the bath, can’t reach the towel on a height appropriate hook, or accidentally spill the drink I literally just handed them because I was getting the freaking Parmesan cheese – that these moments are fleeting and not a big deal. Except Parmesan cheese. Parmesan cheese is a really big deal. Pretty much every day I feel like Goldie Hawn in Overboard.  There are days when my husband comes home and when he asks about my day I just say “buh-buh-buh buh buh”.

The Mint Chip Mama - Our Town: Act 3, Mark Duplass & Perspective on Kids

So why did I title this Our Town, Act 3? Because I also think about that a lot. I think about how poor dead Emily is granted the best gift – to go back to one day in her life and relive it. To go back to “the good old days” once more. The advice she’s given is to pick a simple day because it’s too hard to watch anything else. I think of this in those perfect moments when I’m snuggling in my bed filled with the giggling people I made in my belly and everyone is just happy, content and telling each other they love them. I want to bottle that and have that be the moment I come back to one day if given then same gift. Shit, now I’m crying. I blame Mark Duplass. But really – it’s probably Parmesan cheese’s fault. I really hate you Parmesan cheese.

 

Published by The Mint Chip Mama

Stacey Gish Wallenstein created The Mint Chip Mama blog in 2013 to share her love and passion for giving children meaningful life experiences and helping moms like her navigate the challenges and benefits of raising children in the New York metropolitan area. Before becoming a full-time mom in 2010, Stacey spent the better part of the preceding decade as a high-end customer relationship management (CRM) professional for some of the most well-known brands in the hotel, luxury, fashion, and beauty industries, such as Harrah’s Entertainment, Chanel and Christian Dior, Inc. She managed customer loyalty programs for thousands of clients around the country and created social media strategies for a span of industries including healthcare services, restaurants, consumer packaged goods, specialty foods, local attractions and retail locations. After 13 wonderful years in Manhattan (the last three of which spent as a city mom), Stacey and her husband moved to Long Island in 2014, where they now reside with their three children (10, 6, and 4). There, she is a founding member of her local Parenting Center, which provides classes and coordinates events designed to educate and inform parents while fostering an environment of support and friendship within the community. Stacey is also an active PTA member (and former president) as well as a Girl Scout troop leader. Her musings on motherhood, Manhattan, the suburbs, and more can be found here and on Facebook at The Mint Chip Mama. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Stacey has been active in the New York area alumni organization for nearly twenty years, serving as a board member on the school’s University of Michigan Alumni Club of New York City. She also holds a Masters in Psychology from The New School in New York City. For more updates, follow her on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

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