4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.
Spring is almost here. I can tell by the view out my back window.
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.
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.
[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.]