A month or so ago, I had an epiphany.
It must have been a Tuesday night, because Cory was at a meeting late. I'm sure the kitchen was a mess, the house was loud, and I was gearing up for that awkward hour that falls between dinner and the bedtime wind-down. "Everyone needs to go take their shower," I said.
And they did.
They scattered, grabbed their pajamas, adjusted the water temp, scrubbed their bods, washed their hair. I didn't help with a single step of the routine. They returned to the living room in cozy pants with wet heads and a distinct truth landed in my heart - I have arrived.
I've entered my second decade of parenting, barely, but still. It's strange to even type those words. It's difficult to imagine that my forties are closing in (two months away!) and even now, as I sit on my couch and type with the morning sun streaming into my *silent* house, I find it impossible to retrace the trajectory from then until now.
I remember waking up to a houseful of pre-schoolers and toddlers. Nowhere to go, and honestly, why bother? The first stretch was always the easiest, those hours where yesterday's games felt new again, before the afternoon monotony and the fighting and the dinnertime-prep hour of doom.
I remember stirring something at the counter (what was I stirring? soup? salad dressing? powdered cheese into macaroni?) with a screaming baby at my feet. I'd hand down plastic measuring cups or a wooden spoon, "Look at this, buddy!", feigning brightness when all I really wanted was take-out and a nap. I wanted bedtime to fall softly on our good earth. I wanted to not be needed every second.
If I sound like a granny right about now, it's probably because I am one. Or, it could be because I took Calvin to his middle school orientation last night and I'm not sure when I'll recover.
Ruby does her own hair, most mornings.
They're allowed to go to the park with out me.
Just yesterday, Silas removed his own splinter without us even knowing it was there.
I could hum about time marching on, and I know you'd hum along. This retrograde longing is nothing new. But when it comes down to it, I wouldn't go back. Scratch that. I would, but only for a day or two. I wouldn't mind feeling the weight of my two-year old in my arms for a while and I would fight lions to hear Ruby's lisp again. I miss rocking Silas before bed each night during that first year, promising we would never leave him and that no one else could ever have him.
But if being a mom has only taught me one thing, it's this: wherever we are is the sweet spot.
Ruby has taken to accents. She sings like she knows things, and lately, she's not even worried if we hear her. She's beginning to understand the complexities of her beginnings. She's tired of all our fuss over Asian food. "When can we eat like my people?" she asked, though food from Malawi is more ordinary than she hoped and she can't stand fish. She's obsessed with MLK, though she simply calls him "Martin". Her best friend is Dante, and he said he's moving away.
Silas wore his "tuxedo" for Spring picture day. In case you wondered, it's black athletic pants with a red stripe down the side and his navy blue suit coat with a white t-shirt underneath. He's working on all kinds of things, like not saying "bad" words just because he knows them, and figuring out what to feed all his animals on Mine Craft. He'd like to learn Excel and how to type. He discovered the remote control for his moon also operates his flashing light. Two days ago, he had to walk laps at recess and think about his behavior. Yesterday, he tried "even though it was so, so hard" and had one of his best days in months.
I love this life.
I thought it was my favorite back when I buckled them all into car seats and drove down the street to the library just to kill an hour, but I was wrong.
This is my favorite, this moment I'm in, where we ride bikes and stay up a little later together. I like this one, where they haul their laundry baskets down and I fold the warm shirts and jeans I would have sworn would never fit them. I choose today, with spring jackets, orchestra practice, and the reading log hanging on the fridge. I'll take the fit Silas will throw sometime around 4pm - now, it's always followed with "I'm sorry" eyes and a heart that can't stop loving me. I can handle the bickering. And if they don't like dinner? Well, they'll eat it anyway. We all know the drill.
This is the good stuff, and I'm passing it on to you, wherever you are.
I'm not saying we have to seize the day, but we get to hold it - like a gift.
So we do.
*Photos courtesy of CMB (Cute Maintenance Boy aka Cory, for those of you who are newish) ;)