4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.
This week is camp week. You know the kind I mean. You slather four children in sunscreen, pack four bags with yesterday’s damp swimsuits and towels, and then send them off into a world replete with gimp, archery, tie dye, face painting, swim, obnoxiously loud camp songs, band-aids and yes, sunburns.
At the end of each day, I walk past the cars in the pickup line and stand near the pickup place and watch as four sweaty, exhausted children stumble towards me, asking for water, brandishing band aid covered elbows and thrusting their bags at me, which now only contain half of a swimsuit or no water bottle.
It’s heaven I tell you. Especially since most summer days with my husband at work mean summer at a summer camp of five- four kids and a forty-four-year-old camp counselor, me- for swimming, crafts, biking and so on. Except I don’t get paid and there’s no hot boy counselor for me to check out all day.
I’ve been looking forward to this week all summer.
I had big plans for this week.
And so far I’ve had an appointment with my OB (that was so close to requiring Demarol, that he said, “You’re little, but you’re tough.”), gone grocery shopping, had my mustache waxed (it’s blonde, but it’s persistent), picked up our farm share, made two prints, finally registered my kids for school (only a month late!), and taken a shower. All by myself!!
Mostly it’s been an amazing relief. Showering on my own, with no one to watch me or sit on the toilet five feet away yelling, “Wipe my butt!”, that’s like a spa day. I even had time to shave my legs. And the mustache waxing and OB goes without saying. There’s no way my sons could have un-seen that.
But the grocery store and the farm share?
Quite honestly, it made me miss them. I like doing word problems in the bread aisle (if you can get two loaves for five dollars, how many loaves could you get for fifteen?!) and working through the alphabet together. I like how they ask for weird fruit (star fruit anyone?) and how people would (mostly) comment how good they were.
I’d push this huge grocery cart with all four kids somehow attached to it, and we’d have an adventure. Or even last year when it was just Cabot and me rushing between her pickup at preschool and her siblings’ pickup from kindergarten and first grade. We’d sing through the aisles and pick out treats and she’d compliment all the extremely odd people we’d see at the store.
“I love your eyebrows!” she said to the woman with no eyebrows and robin’s egg blue eye shadow up to her forehead. “I love your cowboy boots,” she said to the woman in the wheelchair with no teeth wearing pink cowboy boots. She made me see the grocery store in a new way, in a more attentive, present way.
And we’d pass all the other moms and kids in our own superlative way, me and $250 worth of groceries and four monkeys hanging off the cart. No one could beat us. Old people loved us. Store employees were pretty nice to us, and other moms were like, “Life could be worse than pushing two kids through the grocery store. I could be her, with four kids. Ack! She must be a superstar!” (Superstarrrrrrrrr. Jazz hands.)
When you go to the grocery store or the farm market alone, life doesn’t happen like that. Yesterday it was just me picking blueberries, me loading up on strawberries or bananas or star fruit. Not better, not worse, but different… and quieter for sure. This week there was more inside, less outside. I thought thoughts. I didn’t say a single word through 16 aisles.
This is me getting ready for September when all my kids head off to school for the first time. They will be having their days. I will be having my days. I will shop alone. I will have no excuse for not showering.
I will have crossed over. I am preparing to cross over.
Yes, when camp is over on Friday this week, I will re-dedicate myself to the camp of five (six on the weekends) to the beach days and bike rides and play dates and playgrounds, to the remaining days of summer.
And today at 3:30 I will put on my sneakers and walk up to the front of the camp pickup line alone. I will bring Popsicles with me for the walk home. I will ask them questions, I will check their bags for wet bathing suits, their elbows for new band aids, and I will wait for them to share their days with me.