I have grown very comfortable with having several hours to myself every weekday. I loved many things about the early years of staying home and having young children with me all the time, but it seems like such a freedom now to be able to have time to think quietly, to write, to run errands on my own schedule, to eat what I like for lunch without anyone complaining about my food choices, to focus on myself sometimes and not feel guilty about it because no one else needs me at that particular moment. I feel like I now have the space in my life to rediscover who I am in addition to being "Mom", and that space makes me happy and lets me really enjoy my ever-more-independent boys in the time I do get to spend with them. As I watch Noah and Will grow stronger and braver and test their own wings a little more each day, I am aware of what a joy it is to have children their ages, and how much I love the stage of life we're at.
One morning last week I was out checking things off my to-do list, and I decided to stop in at the library to bring home some new books for the boys. As I turned into the parking lot, I saw a cute little three-or-so year old boy, wearing a bright red t-shirt, blue shorts, and cheerful yellow rainboots, standing on the side of the parking lot with his dad. I stopped to let them cross in front of me, and the little boy, who was holding his dad's hand, looked right at me and smiled... and my heart made some strange little thud and I was filled with a sudden ache and sadness. I remembered all the times I came to this library with my own boys when they were so cute and little, how their warm, small hands felt held snugly in mine when we crossed the same road. It suddenly felt lonely to be heading to the children's section of the library on my own, even though moments before I had been very content flying solo. I had a moment of wondering how we got "here" so quickly, and where the boys' early childhoods had gone, even though when I was living them, those days sometimes seemed like they would never end.
Time is a funny thing. It moves ever onward, but our minds and our memories make that movement seem anything but linear. Our lives roll more like the waves of an ocean, ebbing and flowing, moving forwards and then backwards as our focus constantly shifts from present to future to past. Sometimes we swell and rush ahead, driving ourselves headlong into what life holds next for us; sometimes we hover briefly on the crest of a perfect moment, enjoying the indescribable beauty of "now", holding our breath and wishing nothing would ever change. There are days when it feels like the ocean is too still, and we long desperately for a wind to bring about a shift of some kind. Sometimes, a moment will suddenly catch us off-guard, and pull us back years, stirring up memories like millions of grains of sand on the shore before heaving us forward once again, leaving us gasping for air. What an incredible experience it is to be human, to live all of this at once, to know the emotional richness of a life layered with past memories, present experiences, and future hopes and dreams.
My moment of sadness at the library last week passed rather quickly. When I met the boys at school at the end of the day, I was reminded of how much I love their 8 and 10 year old company, and of how much happiness watching them discover the world and themselves in their own ways brings to my everyday life right now. I wouldn't have traded this weekend for any other time we've known as I stood proudly and watched Noah swim 5 kilometres in 2 hours with great focus and determination, and saw Will run his first 3 kilometre race in 16 minutes with a huge smile on his face. Life today is incredibly and incomparably sweet. I know, though, that sometime again, I will see some cute little boy in yellow rainboots, and wish just for a second that I could go back. In its own way, that inevitable human longing has a certain sweetness, too.
When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Labels: family life
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