Summer of Longing.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Naked Barbie's cradle each other in one corner of the tub.
Waiting patiently for the next flight to Dirty Bathwater, USA
aboard Charlie's plastic airplane. 
The one I always seem to step on when I get in to the shower.
That feels great.
Is he really any more clean for having taken a bath?
Our tub stained an algae-green from shins and knees filthy from a long day of digging and running and riding bikes.
Playing tag in the yard with squirt guns and neighbor kids or swinging on the rope swing, taking out my carefully placed Hosta with each fly-by. 
Damn kids.
Is it possible to be so happy, you're sad?
Like the happiness and satisfaction with life is so overwhelming
that it just circles back around and in to itself, 
bringing with it a little despair?
It's a weird emotion for me to describe.
The sadness walking right alongside the joy,
because I know this won't last. 
The small children clinging to me today are already starting to loosen their grip.
It's so hard to be present when you're already mourning the future.
I can't seem to navigate from room to room without stepping on a wayward Lego, 
or having to stop to pry a loom bracelet band from the carpet so I don't suck it up in the vacuum.
Or break up a fight or dry tears following a tumble off the scooter.
But this life.
As hard as it is and as much as it sucks sometimes,
is amazing.
It doesn't care what the season or what emotional turmoil you're going through at the moment.
It keeps moving and you have no choice but to go with it.
Life in motherhood doesn't stop for you and repay the favor of selflessness and offer nurturing.
One mess ALWAYS begets another in this house. 
The constant stream of dirty baseball pants and cleats, sand-filled sneakers, soaked socks and crocs.
Those horrifically functional yet ugly Crocs.
Are, well, just that. . .
Some days I grow so tired of it.  The limitless cleaning and tidying and sanitizing,
sweeping and folding and wiping.
I have to find some joy in the monotony of this routine in order to stay sane some days.
Most days I feel blessed by it.
I follow a woman on Instagram who lost her beautiful 3-year-old boy a few weeks ago.  
One day she was posting about gluten-free banana oat muffins.
The next day sharing her tragic loss.
A precious little boy gone in the blink of an eye without any forewarning or any beautifully prepared goodbye.
Life is so unbelievable sometimes.
We get cozy and comfortable and it changes just like that.
So being present in all of it, the good and the bad,
the mud and the muck,
the heartache and the pain,
is our obligation not just to ourselves, but our children.
So we do our best to do just that.
This time of year in Minnesota is magical.
Yes, the children are home.
It's more work for me.
I'm shoving chores down their throats and psychotically limiting their "screen time."
The sounds of an angry mom on the corner of Fifth Street puncture the air almost hourly.
But it's not all bad.
Heavy rains give way to sticky air.
The smells of fresh cut grass and lilacs and peonies,
new layers of mulch.
indulge the senses.
The sound of children playing NICELY together (for all five minutes,) offers a little respite.
Crickets and tree frogs and dreams of northern wilderness sing me to sleep,
I lay in bed in the quiet evening hours, 
and think. . . 
about the idea of letting go, 
a concept I talk about as much as the "being present" one.
I suck so bad at both.
Charlie graduated preschool this year. 
The now coveted tradition of parading them in front of us in mini caps and gowns, barely tall enough to ride rides at the county fair,
but old enough to pretend their actual "graduates."
Well, it's just too much for me.
I held it together most of the day.
Until the night.  When the house grew quiet again.
I cried uncontrollably for this hard part of parenting when we HAVE to accept our children won't stay small forever.
Remain humble to the fact they might not even be here that long.

That no matter what happens, each day they're growing and getting closer to leaving and all we can do is let go.
Ugly crying ensues of course.
Nevermind the crickets and the tree frogs and the pitter patter of rain on the windows.
Nothing can distract from pain sometimes.
You just have to feel it and be in it and move through it.
The kind of tears so strong that can't be stopped, where I have to go downstairs to fall asleep on the couch, so as not to wake my happily snoring husband.
Tears mixed with snot, mixed with more tears, mixed with heave-crying.
This is some bullshit.
What a blubbering mess.
It's not just that my baby is going to Kindergarten next year and will be gone all day every day.
It's that yesterday, just yesterday,
he was fresh and new and wrapped in a blanket and sleeping soundly on my chest.
Then an extention of my hip.
And then walking and teething and talking.
And now his little 5, almost 6-year-old limbs are becoming lanky like his big brothers.
Dangling heavy from the bed in the mornings.
My baby, who with every new haircut, 
seems to age ten years.
Now reading and running and buttoning his own pants and having an opinion and making choices without me and taking showers on his own.
 Brushing his hair in to a perfect square like his dad.
And the crying doesn't stop because he also may be our last one.
This reality that's been here for awhile, that I'm not dealing with very well.
In the beginning, our days were filled with stress, intensity, drama, fear and exhaustion.
Now I feel like we've hit this vortex.
Like if you were traveling at high speeds, then all of a sudden you stopped in midair and were floating.  Like in space.
Oh, there's still fear and exhaustion and new challenges.
But it's different.
Life is still moving, but it's suddenly different.  It looks so different and THEY look so different and everything is changing and shifting.
Maybe it's a little tunnel of rest before shit hits the fan.
Those few and precious years they still love you and are okay being near you,
before they hate you. 
Like a "premenopasal" stage of mothering.
I'm a slew of emotions ranging from immense pride at their new found independence and their lack of interest in me or need for me as much anymore.
I'm right in the thick of that lovely place.
With a nine year old who's trustworthy and helpful and independent.
Who cuts the grass and orders from the "adult" menu and stays home alone.
Whose long summer days are trips to the corner gas station,
freedom with friends.
Who has to keep reminding me when I drive up to golf lessons to see if he's good, 
"Mom.  I got this.  I know what to do.  You don't need to drive me.  Or drive behind me."
See?  This is the problem of having children.
It doesn't get easier.
It gets worse.  And more emotional.  But even more beautiful for every year we're blessed to know them.
So back to summer in Minnesota 
(never mind my inability to move on,) 
it's best friends 
and baseball.
Where I don't really even watch the games.
But just stare in awe at this boy slowly becoming a man.
Who can catch like it's nobody's business, toss his mask, tag the runner coming in and get it to second to catch the kid stealing from 1st.  All in a blink.
I can't watch without biting my lip to keep the flood gates closed.
For today, I am blessed. 
Managing these new growing pains and learning how to be with them.
But grateful for the beauty of what we have now.
No more baby gates.
No more worrying about leaving a steaming cup of coffee on the edge of the table.
No more overflowing Diaper Genies.
I can actually leave children UNATTENDED outside without constant supervision.
They actually do things for ME now.  And do things for themselves.
Which is kind of fantastic.
Although I feel like everyone I know is either pregnant, having babies, holding babies, 
or selling all their baby stuff and moving on,
I'm still somewhere in the middle.
Just floating.
The kids are outgrowing everything faster than I can fill their dresser drawers.
Yet I'm still drawn to their bins of baby onesies in the basement.
Where the baby swing and pac n' play and booster seats have been glaring at me from the dark corners every time I walk by,
daring me to make a choice.
I usually ignore them.
"Nope, not ready yet," I whisper to myself.
So if I don't have answers, or resolutions,
or bravery to jump in and move forward to the next phase,
I'll just keep floating forward,
learning to trust the tide will take me (us) exactly where we are meant to be.


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