It is Resolution Tuesday around here again (did the weeks always go this fast?) and thus I am revisiting my New Year’s Resolution to mother less, but no less than necessary.
Today I am thinking about language. I was going to tell you the following (in my humble opinion, as my mother used to say) amusing story about Youngest:
Youngest set off on a snowboarding trip with a friend yesterday. And when I say friend, I mean a
child, no, a boy, he has shared a school with since Kindergarten but with whom he has had perhaps one sole lonely playdate…, no, they’re fourteen years old, I can’t be calling them playdates anymore.
Before I could even get to the funny part, I was tripped up by the changing language of motherhood.
My baby has become a toddler who has become a child who has become a boy who is really probably a young man though I don’t think I could ever bring myself to use that phrase. Teenager works, but it feels so clinical.
I feel like Gretl, leaving a trail of words I can no longer use in my wake.
If I had known it, all this time I would have described myself as an "ansprechpartner" but dang, I didn’t learn this fabulous German word until Charlotte enlightened me in the comments the other day. She commiserated with my sadness at the loss of the day-to-day intimacy with my children (thank you!) and then wrote:
"Now I am, as the Germans say, the ansprechpartner for everything. I can’t imagine how it will feel being ever so slightly side-lined"
The ansprechpartner. The ansprechpartner. Even without looking it up, it sounds so lovely. Try rolling around on your tongue before sending it out into the ether. Of course, it includes a recognizable English word, partner. And though I never really thought about it before, partner is really a perfect word to describe the work of mothering. We are our children’s partners in all that they do. They expect us to be there: to grab onto when they teeter, to yell at in a rage, to soothe them when they are frightened, to name that which is as yet unnamed.
When I went to look up the actual definition, here is some of what I found:
"Sounding board", "interlocutor", "conversational partner", "opposite number", "contact person".
That’s it. That’s what I miss so much. I miss being their contact person, their go-to gal, their first-in-line, their necessary-as-air ansprechpartner.
Oh… I almost forgot. The funny part:
So Mate was reminding Youngest that since he is to be a guest for the week, he needs to clear his own plates, help with the dishes, offer to carry skis, keep his room vastly cleaner than he does at home, and generally be a stellar guest.
Youngest listened to all this familiar advice and then cheerily rejoined, "Oh don’t worry. I’m much better with other people’s parents than I am with my own."