16 Aug this week, a taste of forever
B just sneaked into the pantry, reached behind the jars of pasta and spices and emerged with the TV remote control.
I flash her a sly grin that says, I see you. I know who you are, big sister, outsmarting your little brother. I did those things too.
She laughs and runs back down the stairs to watch Scooby Doo, because it’s Saturday and because I said she could.
Last night in the wee hours Miles flipped on all the lights. His bedroom. Hallway. Bathroom. Master bedroom. A cold rush of light startled me awake but calmed him. I scared of the dark, Mama. I negotiated with him in the fractured, nonsensical way you do at 1 AM. Bathroom light only. Keep your door cracked open. I’ll rub your back with lavender balm.
They started school two weeks ago, opening up a wide expanse of time and space for me to write uninterrupted, to finally stop cobbling together a career in 90-minute time blocks between preschool drop-off and pickup and lunch and naps and bursts of inspiration at 10 PM when I’m too exhausted to act on them. I’ve never been a stay-at-home-mom in the traditional sense, because I was a professional writer first. But in the practical sense, I am home, have always been home — near them, with them. My work came second, and while it wasn’t always easy to explain, that felt right.
I map out my deadlines and sit down at my computer, but the house is full of echoes. I wonder how many years I have of looking at Bronwynn and instantly understanding her. I wonder if Miles will always be reassured by my presence at night. I want to gather up these moments and stow them like wood for next winter.
For the first time, I don’t want to tidy up their toys while they’re away.
I feel lost and unfocused, and yet 3 PM comes quicker than I’d anticipated. After school they are full of energy, full of ideas, full of stories about the work they completed that day. One week in and Bronwynn has already worked with a model volcano, made it erupt. She’s diagramming sentences, writing her own chapter books in sloppy cursive. Miles worked a geographic puzzle, counted seashells, made dinosaurs out of wooden blocks, learned to use a screwdriver correctly.
Week two I settle into more of a routine. These are strange and amazing days, writing furiously without an eye toward the clock. Reconnecting with friends without someone tugging at my hem. Running (and showering immediately after). Eating a meal prepared just for me.
I borrow a little of my kids’ work ethic, the Montessori philosophy that provides the time, space and materials to learn but allows the student the freedom to choose what they will pursue. They’re learning time management, how to identify their own passions and areas of improvement. They are understanding when to ask for guidance and feedback. They are beginning to embrace living and working with integrity, effective communication, compassion, respect, peacefulness.
Through all of it they are finding themselves. So am I.