jen groeber: mama art

4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.

Spring is Here (Said No One in New England)

Spring is almost here. I can tell by the view out my back window.

Blue-tinged view of my backyard, covered with snow.

Oh, wait. This doesn’t look at all like spring.
March 2015

I also know spring is almost here because my kids are on spring break. I found this out when picking them up last Friday. The teacher packing the kids into the car merrily said, “Have a great break!!”

I was caught midway through preparing to pull out of the pick-up line. “What are you talking about?!” I gasped.

“See you in two weeks!” she exclaimed.

Then my son gleefully added, “Two weeks and one day!!” and he pelted me in the back of the head with a shark-covered L.L.Bean backpack loaded with books and boots.

I looked into my rearview mirror to see the long line of minivans and the next two weeks of my life fade into exhausted existence. Oh, wait. That’s the next two weeks of my life AND ONE DAY.

I was literally not prepared for this.

How do we eat up these days? How in the world can I burn up these hours?! We headed into Boston on the train for an adventure that was 80% fun and 20% miserable. We played board games and had play dates.

This was during the 20%.  March 2015

This was during the 20%.
March 2015

And I’d like to mention that the  play dates have been a struggle. Apparently we are done with those days where the mother stays with me and we sit and talk about recipes and symptoms and toilet training and things we wish we were doing right now with our lives. Instead we drop our children at each other’s houses and wonder if we are allowed to tell someone else’s kid that they need to say please and thank you when they forget or if we can ask them not to jump out of the window box in the basement that is 6 1/2 feet off the cement floor.

This “break” is lasting forever. It is not like any kind of vacation I would’ve imagined as a child or a single person or newlywed.

And honestly this winter is beginning to take forever. I appreciated the extra 3 inches of snow the other day that turned all the gray and brown layer upon layer of salted mucky snow into something sort of beautiful again. But on the other hand I was sad for the robins and the other birds who have begun to search for worms and places to lay their eggs. I don’t think they counted on the snow either.

In talking with my children though I’ve determined that I think this spring will wait and wait and wait and then arrive in glory, although perhaps not tomorrow, which is technically the first day of spring. It will be the kind of spring that hits us full force in the face like running into a door in the night when you head to the bathroom. We’re all sort of groping around, groping around in the darkness and then BAM, door to face, spring will be here.

This spring “break” we’re on sort of feels like that groping around in the dark, walking into walls. And there is the imperceptible passage of time, too, as if the day will also never end, as if this playdate will never be over. I haven’t looked at my watch this much since I was in labor with my oldest son.

And then finally, after checking the watch one hundred times, it is time for my child to be returned, or your child to be returned. Then I race around with my husband, making dinner, picking up the toys, loading the dishwasher, wiping things down, flossing and brushing and reading and reading, all times four, erasing all evidence of the day. And then suddenly BAM it is 11:30 at night, and this day I have been desperately hoping would pass faster has raced to an end unexpectedly.

This is also what they say about this time of raising children, long days, fast years. Obscene winters, driveby springs.

In September my daughter will head to kindergarten. I will be a stay-at-home mom and artist and sometimes teacher and hopefully blogger, maybe writer, but really a stay-at-home mom, with no children at home with me on most days.

Then I will be off looking for colleges with them. I know it will happen that fast, or at least I suspect it. Winter forever, then BAM, spring. Days creeping by, then whoops, midnight. Their childhoods, interminable, then me crying in my minivan at the curb outside some college dorm.

So without trying to run down the clock inappropriately, I tromped out into the crusted snow to snap that picture of my adirondack chairs, buried in the twilight snow. I made mental plans for the next day, crafts and games and books. And I whispered to myself spring is here, spring is here, spring is here, even as I forced myself to remain present in this unspringlike moment.

All four kids in Cabot's crib. Ages, 3, 1 1/2, 1 1/2 and 4 days old.

Cage match. Four go in, one winner remains.
May 2010

All four kids in pajamas curled up willy-nilly in Cabot's bed.

Same kids. Same bedroom. Fiver years later.
March 2015

[This was inspired by the three inches of snow predicted for the first day of spring tomorrow, as well as the gorgeous reflections on grown children preparing to leave the no longer spring-time nests of these two amazing bloggers: Dawn Landau at Tales From the Motherland and Kelly from Kelly In Repeat.]

16 comments on “Spring is Here (Said No One in New England)

  1. kellyinrepeat
    March 19, 2015

    Thanks for the shout out. You are in some of the very hardest years of parenting. It feels like a time warp, doesn’t it? Your post reminds me of a year in which three of my kids were under five and Luke was home on spring break, which also happened to be my spring break from teaching, which is not really a break at all, is it? All of the other kids at his school went to these exotic places for vacation and then they all wrote illustrated stories of their travels. When I saw Luke’s hanging there amongst the colorful drawings of beaches and airplanes, I first noticed what looked like jail bars, but turned out to be a crib. He wrote, “This spring break, I helped my move move the baby crib into another bedroom and clean.” Heh.

    • jgroeber
      March 30, 2015

      How I love this response. Yes, exactly! Perhaps we are all building character in these seemingly bottomless days of child-rearing? Your dear son… Ha!
      And if one more school teacher runs into me in the grocery store with all my kids in tow and says, “How’s vacation? Getting lots done?” I may have to vomit. Of course I’m getting nothing done. Don’t you see me standing here exhausted and disheveled in front of you?

  2. talesfromthemotherland
    March 19, 2015

    I don’t know if I’d hit repeat… as much as I miss these crazy, wild, and totally unpredictable days of having little guys around. It all looks so yummy, from the rose colored glasses of my (mostly) empty nest. But then, I remember how long those snowy days were, how dirty my floors were, how f’ing tired I was … All. The. Time! Thanks for the shout out. I love being in such great company! 😉 That piece is doing super well on HP, so I think there are lots of us moms out there, just trying to figure it all out!

    I’ll say it again, you rock, rock, rock! As a mom, as a writer, as a super cool woman. Glad we’re connected, Jen.

    • jgroeber
      March 30, 2015

      Aw, shucks! Thanks for the exuberant props.
      And I sort of love these days as much as I hate them, you know? I mean, clearly I’m already nostalgic for things that haven’t even passed me by yet.
      And are you suggesting that someday my floors might not be this dirty and I might not be so tired? Perchance to dream…
      Glad we’re connected, too! You’re an inspiration.

  3. momasteblog
    March 19, 2015

    Play dates suck. They just do. Xoxoxo.

    • jgroeber
      March 30, 2015

      Every once in awhile the perfect play date will actually make my day even better, like my kids actually behave! But these random drop-off ones? Ugh! Thank you so much for stopping by!

  4. Burns the Fire
    March 20, 2015

    Spring is here… in our hearts. xx

    • jgroeber
      March 30, 2015

      It snowed again today here. You?

      • Burns the Fire
        March 30, 2015

        Yeah, big fat snow this morn. Now it is slushing. I can appreciate the drama of it all but the reality of our time is climate change. Sigh.

        • jgroeber
          March 30, 2015

          Right?! It should NOT be snowing anymore. It’s just wrong. The poor birds. What must they be thinking? Today I saw the two swans that always glide together on the reservoir… they were sharing this jacuzzi sized hole in the ice, and then later they were just tucked in on themselves sitting on the ice. A metaphor to be sure.

  5. kellylmckenzie
    March 20, 2015

    Oh YES! While I can’t commiserate with you over the never ending snow and winter (Canada’s “wet coast” won’t allow it) I can commiserate with you over the never ending lonnnnnggggg days of motherhood. And the constant checking of the watch. “What, it’s only 4:00? Surely not. ” Then you blink. And you find yourself asking a friend “What? It’s Spring Break already?” Not with the horror of being completely sideblinded because you’re exhausted from your kids (yes – happened to me too) but because your kids are in college, miles from home. The local school schedule is no longer important. Wow. Didn’t see that coming.

    • jgroeber
      March 30, 2015

      Ha! Yes, exactly. Love feeling like I’m not alone. And seeing others who’ve gone (ostensibly) gracefully before me. You seem to have somehow survived swimmingly! As always, love seeing you here!

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