Mazzy came home last weekend, but before I write about her return (can you believe four weeks went so fast??) I need to talk about the Summer of Harlow. I missed Mazzy a ton, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that having a whole bunch of dedicated Harlow time was an ABSOLUTE JOY.
Let me start by saying, since Harlow is my second child, I have never really had that much one-on-one time with her before. In addition to Mazzy having those oh-so-valuable first three years of life all to herself, I also took her to Paris by herself when she was in 1st grade and I took her to Mont Tremblant by herself at the end of last summer. Because Mazzy is older, I think it’s fair that she gets exposed to some experiences first.
Also, Harlow can be a pretty demanding, attention-seeking kid, so Mazzy often gets the short end of the stick. I expect her to play “the big kid” role at tricky parenting times, like at bedtime, when they are both fighting over whose bed I should lie in as they try to fall asleep. For good or for bad, Harlow often wins that battle, because I know Mazzy can handle my absence better. So, even when I am giving Harlow my attention, it tends to be laced with a lot of guilt. In addition, Mike often feels like I give in to Harlow too easily, so that raises some tension as well.
I should also say that leading up to Mazzy going away, the girls were fighting a lot. They were fighting over what TV shows to watch, what to play together, what books to read before bed, etc. The worst was when one wanted to play together and the other wanted to play alone. UGH. Mazzy and Harlow are an amazing pair when they get along, but they can be pretty awful to one another when their interests are not aligned.
All this is to say, when Mazzy was away at camp (by her own choice), and Mike was back in the city, life with just Harlow and me was drama-free and pretty damn easy. I was free indulge her without anyone to fight me on it. And, without Mike and Mazzy’s needs as part of the equation, I learned that Harlow and I are usually interested in doing the same things.
We like to cuddle, go out for ice cream, film baking videos, dance in the kitchen to Mary Poppins songs, play Gin Rummy and get our nails done. We prefer Sugar Rush over Nailed It (Mazzy’s choice) and have a newfound obsession with old seasons of Survivor. I think our joint love of Survivor deserves a whole post on its own, because it’s perhaps the greatest new development in my parenting life.
As Mazzy gets older, I find she values spending time with her friends more than anything else. She wakes up and the first thing she says is always, “What are we doing? Who are we doing it with?” A good day is one that involves a play date. A bad day is one that does not. Whereas, Harlow is still content to just hang with me.
So, on Tuesday nights this July, when our local park has outdoor concerts, instead of calling around and figuring out who is going to be there and where we are all going to meet (like I needed to do in previous summers with Mazzy), I just headed over with Harlow on my own, spread out a blanket and it was like the two of us were on our own special mommy daughter date. She didn’t run off into the playground with her friends; she danced by our blanket and we ate picnic dinners together and got ice cream from the ice cream truck and caught fire flies as we walked back and it was wonderful.
Over the last month, it occurred to me that six years-old is really the perfect age for one-on-one time. It’s an age when your kid is old enough to have a real conversation and be funny and entertaining in a purposeful way, but they are still totally invested in Mommy. We are enough.
I think I missed that phase with Mazzy a bit. When Mazzy was six, Harlow was three and a total handful. I didn’t know yet how quickly the time would pass or how soon I would not be enough for her. Having that hindsight has made me live in the moment more and really cherish this summer with Harlow. I think knowing I will never have a six-year-old again has made me appreciate this age more too.
I was the oldest growing up and it’s interesting to look back on my mom and my little sister’s relationship with new eyes. I used to think it was better to be the big kid because you got to do everything first, but now I see pretty clearly all the advantages of being the youngest. Your parents love on you that much more because you are their last. Because they see that opportunity of being someone’s whole world fading with their oldest. And they want this phase of parenthood to last as long as possible.
I love watching Mazzy grow up and stretch her wings and seeing what this awesome person can do out there in the world on her own. But at the same time, I find myself wanting to hold Harlow tight and never let her go.
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