4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.
I pulled up in the drop off-line today, and threw the backpacks out the driver’s side window to the waiting teacher. I’ve been working up to this moment for days. I was so excited I even got dressed in real grown-up clothes, a new chambray shirt, colored skinny jeans, and my new birthday shoes.
Because we’ve been on “break” for two weeks. Actually, if I’m being fully honest, we’ve been on break for two weeks and one day. And as always, that one day, the Monday that they should return to school but they don’t because the teachers go to school and do some sort of fun enrichment with iPads, that day always catches me off guard.
It’s like running a marathon and thinking that you only have to go for 26 miles. It’s not 26 miles. I’ve run five marathons, and I am here to tell you that that .2 miles adds up to a lifetime total of 1 mile of excruciatingly painful exuberance in my life. Because that last little bit costs you a lot.
And “break”, by the way you should understand, is like the other 26 miles of the marathon. It’s scenery, people, exhaustion, exhilaration, a feeling in the beginning like you’ll never reach the end. And a feeling in the end like you really will never reach the end.
Over break we ran around, did stuff. We went to the ocean for a few days. And then about 24 hours later we turned around and headed to New York City. I mean a crazed 52 hours of New York City.
We went to the MOMA where I heard my son exclaim, “Is that the real Starry Night?!” from a room away, and we saw a dinosaur exhibit featuring the Titanosaur at the American Museum of Natural History, also, the planetarium show on dark matter (whatever that is, I’m still not clear), the butterfly exhibit, and a nifty exhibit on the human biome, which was an especially good lesson because it teaches you that all the bacteria and random things growing in and on your body are very important. And my children stuck their fingers in every nasty, bacteria-covered thing in New York City and then stuck their fingers in their noses, mouths, and eyes for 52 hours. So I was grateful for the reassurance.
We went to two cupcake shops, because Mama needed cupcakes to get her through those bacteria-laden 52 hours. We also went to a noodle shop, an upscale Indian restaurant, and an oyster bar where my kids ate all the raw oysters my husband scored me through a groupon.
We did the Highline in Chelsea and also some wild galleries that were some of my kids’ favorite moments on the whole trip. We gazed into the endless fountains that sit where the World Trade Center buildings once stood, and we took a ferry out to the Statue of Liberty and then out to Ellis Island where we wandered the rabbit’s warren of rooms that allowed generations of Americans to enter our country (so that now their descendants can vote for someone who says Muslims should not be allowed to enter the United States.)
We took two taxi rides, visited a store called Dylan’s Candy Shop which involved bags of candy and was the highlight of the trip for my children, and I clocked 29,200 steps in one day. Which means my five-year-old likely clocked over 50,000 steps in New York City in one day. Talk about a marathon.
Then we returned home and less than 12 hours later we headed to the ocean again to wash off the hustle and bustle of the city. We hunted Easter eggs on an island, and ate more candy.
And then on Monday, I realized in a heartbreaking moment of illumination that my kids did not in fact have school. So I took them all to the grocery store. Then I took them to Michael’s Arts and Crafts and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Then I took them to Target. Because Mama has errands.
So you see why I pulled up to the drop off place at their school with such heady excitement. I was about to get my soul back.
Except there’s this. (There’s always this.) As my kids undid their seat belts in four consecutive clicks, and my youngest daughter leaned her pretty head next to my seat to look at her hastily applied lip gloss in my rearview mirror, I snuck a kiss on her yummy cheek.
And even as I hit the button to open the slider door on the minivan, a tiny little piece of me felt the tug of letting them go after holding them so close for two weeks. (Let me clarify, two weeks and one day.)
This I’m certain will be the next 13 years. We will rush and rush and rush to see the sights and do the things, take in every moment, snap every photo. It will be a whirlwind, and expensive, and exhausting. Then I will race up to a curb, pop open my window, throw their bags out, hit the button for the slider door, and a little bit I will long for them to stay. Because what is the whirlwind of my life now without their delicious weight holding me back?
As I pulled out of the school driveway alone in my empty minivan Pete Townshend’s Let My Love Open the Door blared on my radio. And I thought, yes, this.
When people keep repeating
That you’ll never fall in love
When everybody keeps retreating
But you can’t seem to get enough
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
To your heart
Happy spring break. Happy Easter. Let your love open the door.