I kind of miss projects that had a definite start, middle, and end. I don’t mean work projects, because I really don’t miss working all that much, no no no, what I miss is the simple luxury of having time for a project that requires my full attention for longer than a half hour.
Before the children I had all kinds of time on my hands and looking back it seems completely LUDICROUS that I had entire DAYS and NIGHTS to do anything I pleased. More than anything I am wide-eyed at how WASTEFUL I was with all of those lovely hours. When I look at Past Me, I start to sound like an old lady. “Ah, youth!”
Right now I have a few spare minutes here and there. Never more than ten or fifteen of them at one time and more likely it’s two or six minutes. And because of our schedule and the ages of my children (1, 3, 5) I am hardly ever alone. This isn’t a complaint, it’s an observation. I am probably alone for less then thirty minutes a day. I like my kids and they’re a lot of fun, but everyone needs alone time. It’s hard to do anything for myself with bits and bobs of time that I may or may not get. I have been trying to make myself a dentist appointment since 2011.
I have been thinking a lot lately about seasons of life and how an important and formative season in MY life (The Baby Years) has already happened to me and is already a rather large collection of binary numbers (that render as photos) inside of this very Macbook. One day, I will sort and sift through all of the videos of babies on swings and toddlers learning to Franken-walk. But I can’t yet, I’m already thick into starting up my next season (The Kids Go To School Years). I’ll have time for reminiscing later. The photos and videos will wait.
I wrote out what grade all the kids will be in over the years and it, well, it made me really upset to see an end date on Raising Children. There was a definite feeling of, “Oh. That’s….all we get? It’s going to be…over?” And of course I knew that it would be over and they’d grow up eventually, but to see exactly WHEN that would happen felt very different.
It was so specific!
Here in 2014 is where Claire goes to Kindergarten and there in 2031 is where Preston graduates from high school. That’s only 17 years from now. It’s a long time, but it feels like such a slim window when viewed on paper as a list of dates.
What really made me sad was seeing the countdown backwards from having three children in the house, to two, to one, to none.
Sad isn’t the right word even, it made me feel positively despondent.
I started to feel anxious. There are just eleven summers after this one before Claire graduates from high school. ELEVEN! Do you know how many National Parks there are that I want to drag my kids to? How many beaches and states and sno-cone stands? A LOT MORE THAN ELEVEN, THAT’S WHAT.
It’s so easy to say, “some day, when they are older, we will do XYZ” but THERE AREN’T A LOT OF YEARS TO DO IT ALL. I CAN SEE THEM ALL HERE ON MY PAPER AND THERE AREN’T THAT MANY. There aren’t even that many years in the middle where they will want to be seen with us in public. I figure we have maybe 4 or 5 of those. (Maaaaybe.)
And then (oh yes, there’s more on this delightfully melancholy trip into my future) there are only a few weeks left that I’ll have all my kids at home with me. The part where I have everyone at home is almost OVER (it will never happen again!) and I’ve only just today realized it!
Sure, we’re going to take lots of pictures and do lots of things and make enough memories to fill our heads for the rest of our lives, and the children are still certainly MY CHILDREN even after they’ve grown up, but my time with them all under one roof just feels so limited now that I’ve seen the specifics in ink. There’s an end date out there. Some day, all of this laundry and these lunchboxes will simply go away.
Charlotte still sometimes comes into our room at night and curls her little space-heater body next to me in a ball, whispering, “Mama, Mama, I yay (lay) with you?”
Oh, yes sweetheart. Yay here and be small and three for as long as you want.