Our Last Month Together
Part I: Looking Forward
For the last year, I have been counting down the months until Mae is in Kindergarten full time. I feel vulnerable admitting this. So many moms I talk to are sad about their babies starting school, and I worry that saying out loud that I am excited about the prospect of my kids leaving the nest will make me seem like a terrible mother. I am often tempted to lie and say that I am super duper sad, but frankly, I don’t think that lying to other mothers gets us anywhere—we all react to different parenting milestones and experiences in different ways, and the more we are honest about that the better.
When I think about what my life is going to look like in September, I feel almost giddy. Five whole days a week to work on whatever I want! Having children made me understand like nothing else ever has that time and energy are some of our most precious resources. Not that people without children aren’t incredibly busy (they are!), and not that time spent with my children was ever wasted (it wasn’t!!). It’s just that there have been so many things I have wanted to do over the past six years, and there have never been enough hours in the day.
I have more free time than many other moms of preschool-aged kids, because my youngest daughter is in daycare two days a week, and yet I have so often been frustrated because have all of these projects swirling around in my brain that I long to work on and I can’t. I have also wanted to expand my small tutoring practice, but this has been logistically difficult, because it requires my partner to leave work early more often than makes sense. Next year, I think it will finally be possible for me to take on more students with less of an impact on our family’s schedule. This is exciting! I also have two YA manuscripts that I have made slow, tentative starts on, and I want to immerse myself in those in a real way.
And then there is the blog. Sigh.
I started this blog in a fit of optimism that I was going to DO ALL THE THINGS and blog about them all. Turns out, though, that all there has only been time to do a handful of the things and occasionally write about them. Turns out, also, that if I take the time to write about, photograph, and post a thing, there is even less time remaining to actually do the next thing. Which is why, after almost two years of blogging, I have produced a measly 26 posts, most of which seem to be recipes for muffins and other quick breads, because those are the fastest, most straightforward posts to write.
But next year—look out people!
I am so excited to develop my photography skills—pun intended. In particular, I want to focus on learning to photograph interiors well, so that I can share more with you guys about the ongoing process of creating our home. I also want to write more about the things I read and listen to, and interview some of the women whose work inspires me and impacts my thinking everyday. I plan to post a broader range of recipes that are more challenging to write, and that better communicate the way I cook and eat and think about food. There will be a tour of my freezer and my pantry! And I have big dreams about trying out all sorts of new mediums— punch needle, oil painting, block printing, and woodworking! I will propagate plants! I will sew my own clothes! It’s going to be a wild ride.
Hmm. Perhaps I should be looking into Kindergarten programs that run six days a week? Kidding. Mostly.
In the meantime. . .
Part II: Be Here Now
Some people are really good at just accepting the limitations of a given situation, focusing on the present with their whole hearts. This is such a wonderful and healthy way to live. It is also something I struggle with big time. I am a restless soul who tends to think about the list of things that didn’t get done, who wants to do it all RIGHT NOW! I also lack energy and motivation to do much of anything some days. It is a truly winning combination of personality traits!
At times, this has made being a stay at home parent tricky. But then last week, I woke up and realized that it is almost over—I have less than a month of one-on-one time with my sweet(ish) baby, and then it will be summer and her sister will be home, and then it will be fall and they will both be off together on the bus everyday. And as I have just explained, that makes me feel so excited. It also makes me feel panicked. I know that I am incredibly privileged to have had the economic means to have had a choice about staying home. I often worry that I haven’t done enough with the time we have been home together, just the two of us. Did we go to the park enough? Did I let her lick the spoon and built forts and make messes often enough? Did I spend enough time tracing letters with her, and doing science experiments? Can she count as high as her sister could at her age? Were there enough sensory bins available to her?
I am spiraling. . .
So, for the next month, I am going to try as hard as I can to slow down and simply make some special memories with Mae. One day last week, for instance, I left the dishes in the sink (and pilled all over the counters and the table, if I am being honest), and took her for a walk to the river near our house. I did my best to bite my tongue every time I was tempted to hurry her along. I dutifully carried the handfuls of crumpled weeds and other nature treasures she amassed, amazed at her amazement as she told me about the various textures and colours. We tried to skip rocks (we both failed), we looked for tadpoles (and found none), we pretended to be deer. She was so happy. I was so happy.
In the interest of full disclosure, we were both much less happy when we arrived home at 3:30 to find that the dishes were still everywhere and dinner had not been started or even thought about. I quickly reverted to my typical cranky-mommy self, and it wasn’t pretty. Still. I had tried, and I am continuing to try in the time we have left, even though it is hard and kind of goes against my nature. I try because I want her to grow up knowing that, even though she and I are very different people in a lot of ways, I love spending time with her, listening to her ideas, seeing the world from her point of view. Even if I fail at everything else, I want her to feel that I made the effort to really understand her wild little heart.