This morning I woke up to find my youngest child wearing accurately-buttoned church clothes and eating a hot breakfast that he had made without help. He might as well have handed me a pink slip.
(This is not to say that my mothering duties are done; later in the morning, I had to disabuse him of the older-brother-derived notion that “dim” means “smart” as he went around the house chanting “I’m dim, I’m dim!”)
I am amazed at the speed with which I’ve gone from body servant to bystander. They make their own meals, wash their own clothes, buckle their own seat belts, and–the one I’m most conflicted about–find their own fun. Right now, all three are on an entirely different level of the house, behind a closed door, surrounded by Legos and Harry Potter on CD. I can just barely hear the CD, only when the narrator’s tone deepens.
I am so not ready to leave the stage of having young children. (I can’t believe I said that. When I had babies, my primary motivation for getting out of bed in the morning was that I now faced one less day when I would have to get up to mother a baby.) And I’m not: we’re fighting it. I’m so not ready that even though nature isn’t cooperating, we’re seriously considering other options. So I console myself with the knowledge that I’m currently in–not a new stage–but a brief respite, and I should be enjoying it. I’m trying to. But even if everything works out as we hope it will and we’re able to add another child or two (or three?), I’m just delaying the inevitable: it will only be another half decade or so and then no one will need my fingers to do the buttons. What will I do then?
I can vividly remember–of course I can vividly remember: it was only months ago!–when homeschooling meant arms full of baby and attention jerkily divided between a toddler’s block tower and a child’s math book. It was hard. Now, much of homeschooling finds me at the laptop, checking craigslist to see if I can find the rug I knew in the preexistence, while two kids independently do their math and one practices drawing with an Ed Emberly book. It is an entirely different kind of hard.
An objective observer might suggest that this would be the ideal time to do something about the two-year-old accumulations of dust at the corners of each stair in my house. (Not to mention the yard. Please don’t mention the yard.) An objective observer apparently doesn’t know me very well.
I guess the downside of cramming your outside interests into the interstices of the years when you have tiny children is that when your children are no longer tiny, you are not sure what to do with the yawning savannahs that stretch before you.