Facebook alerted me to the fact that six years ago, I posted this:
“Am thinking that someday my mornings won’t be structured around the demands of children, dogs, horses, and guinea pigs. That instead I will be free to make coffee and turn directly to a book. And that a part of future me will be a little sad in the midst of that freedom. But, also realizing, we will probably always have a dog.”
Six years ago, my boys were 10, 8, and 4. Nearly every day held some form of obligation, whether it was karate class, guitar lessons, school, piano lessons, brief flings with basketball, hockey, gymnastics, etc, etc, etc. We were very busy. You could usually find some combination of us in my minivan, snacks distributed and consumed, appropriate (often not) music blaring from the radio, and I was frazzled, tired, cranky, but usually pretty happy.
“Enjoy these days,” random people tell you when children are hanging from your coat and interrupting your every thought. “Enjoy these days because you will miss them when they’re gone.”
Now my boys are 16, 14, and 10. It’s a snowy Sunday morning, and the teenagers are both sound asleep. My youngest slept over at a friend’s house. The plow woke us and my husband and I leaped from bed to move cars, walk dogs, feed animals, make coffee, check the doppler maps to see if the projected 20 inches of snow was indeed going to materialize. And now he’s gone back up to the bed and I’m on the couch with dogs snoozing at my feet, sipping my coffee, and there’s no reason to shower, dress, leave the house.
The day, so far, is perfect. It’s perfectly free (mostly) of child-related obligations.
Of course, we’re still busy people. Just yesterday, I did the grocery shopping at 6 a.m. to beat the inevitable pre-storm crowd. Later, I drove across the state (and back in a blizzard) to attend a regional high school band concert. And one son needed a ride to the mountain to snowboard. Plus, my friend and I did our usual five-mile walk, also known as our weekly therapy/save the world/share book recommendations session. It was a packed day, mostly packed with kid stuff.
But today—today is not packed. Today is free of commitment beyond, you know, feeding dogs. (Because yes, we will always have a dog. Or three.) And feeding ourselves. And eventually, I imagine the 10-year-old will need a ride home. But I could, and likely soon will, turn to a book and read a large chunk of text without interruption.
Was I right six years ago? Does future me feel a little sad in the midst of all this freedom?
Nope. I feel glorious. There is no sadness. Not even a hint of wistfulness.
I don’t miss our overly packed days. Those days were hard, and I’m glad I had them (I’m even glad that I sometimes still have them), but this snowy Sunday morning is better. I’m happier with this precious space in which to sip coffee, read and write some words, pat the dog’s head, and unfold on my own time.
Here’s what I tell the parents I see with children hanging off their coat and their every thought interrupted: “It gets better.” That is what my past self wanted to hear, more than “Enjoy these days.”
Your kids will grow and expand in both body and mind and they will spend more time away from you than on you, and the spaces that will open up, both physical and mental, will feel like a reward you are granted for getting through those hard days during which you are called upon to be stronger than you ever believed possible. It really does get better.
Thanks for reading. I’m going to go pour another cup of coffee and find my book.