I am grateful for my rocky relationship with time.
This morning, we were all in the getting ready for our day. My kids help cook breakfast, juice veggies, pack up snacks and make lunch when we are out for the day. We jostle in the kitchen, elbows piercing sides, hips bouncing off of each other and shoulders bumping. We say things like, “Right behind you!” “Don’t move, I have a hot pan coming through!” This morning I looked at them. I looked at them. They are so big. One is taller than me and two have bigger feet than I do. My children are no longer underfoot but are above and beside me.
I watched them take care of themselves, each other, and our home. I’d yell out reminders and they would all say, “Yes Mom. We know! We already did that.” I call out for time checks and give them countdowns. My son packs his own stuff and wipes down the table. One is cutting up cucumber. One is at the cast iron pan. One is washing dishes. Yesterday my 8 year old asked if she could make apple chips. I asked her if she remembered how and she did. She preheated the oven, cored, and sliced apples. She put them on a tray and popped them in the oven for a few hours. They all go off and pursue their own interests, sometimes with each other and sometimes they spend an afternoon alone in a corner of the house.
When my husband and I go out, we give them a list of chores to do before they go off and do their own thing and when we get back, the list is always done. (Some have made the remark that it’s because we have mostly girls. But actually, my friend Lara’s boys taught my girls how to clean the kitchen with a thorough attention to detail.)
For the last few years, I have struggled with accepting that my family is growing up. Time seemed to be getting away from me, moving forward at high speed without letting me catch my breath. I grieved over the loss of wee ones and the transition into parenting older children. I desperately clung to the image of my children in these photos. At this stage, I could keep them close, my arms able to be wrapped around them all. I could create a world for them full of magic and wonder. It was exhausting physically but they just needed to be held in this infinite space of love.
For awhile, I didn’t know how to grow with my children. They leapt ahead of me while I was still trying to get my bearings. I held on too tight and was quick to fix their problems when they needed me to listen. Sometimes I get angry or frustrated when they can’t tell me what’s wrong, but I catch myself a little faster now and give them their solitude so that they can figure out and be available whenever they are ready to come to me. I hovered and worried when they needed to be away from me.
Now I have settled into the pace. I love this movement of time because it helps me appreciate each moment I have with them. It has only gotten sweeter. I can look back on those early years with love and gratitude, no longer attached to the desire for rewinding. I used to think that it was so easy back then because all they needed was to feel safe and loved. I have learned that it’s the same as they grow older but instead of physically holding them or attending to their cries, I must wait for them to come to me. I must give them love that frees them to be who they need to be and to feel what they need to feel. I trust my children and myself enough to give them all the time in the world.
42 days of gratitude…giving thanks to ALL.