The boys have stormed out the door in a fit of energy. Backpacks and lunch bags smacking against the doorway as they go, a pile of boys wrestling with every step even as they clamour into the truck. The boys are soon (finally) on their way to school and I set about trying to recover the house in their wake.
I put away the fixings from making the lunches, I wash up the breakfast dishes, I scrub the roaster that was left soaking overnight, I unload the dishwasher, and I feed the dog. I walk through the house picking up wayward socks, sweatshirts, shoes, papers, books, LEGOs, and bike helmets. I reheat my now cold coffee and finally take a seat to sip my coffee for a few minutes before I move on to the next chore.
The sun bursts through the patio doors and splashes onto the carpet. In the middle of the sunlight puddle is Gracie, sprawled out with her dollhouse. The Fisher Price dollhouse that used to be my dollhouse that is now her dollhouse. She rings the doorbell on the dollhouse and immediately I am transported back to my childhood dining room where the sunlight spotlights down on me and the very same toy.
I shuffle down to the sunspot and sidle up next to Grace to show her how I used to place the stairs in the middle of the dollhouse so the dollies could get up to both rooms. I show her how my dollies used to play hide and seek and one would always hide under the stairs. I show her how my dolls used to back the car into the garage.
Soon she has taken over the dolls and the cars and added in some princess dolls and LEGO cars as well. I watch as she lets her imagination take over making up stories and songs.
She spots Are You My Mother and picks it up to read it to her dolls. She does an impressive job remembering the lines on each page and adding inflection to her voice at the exciting parts. I offer to read it for her and she sprints to my lap so fast it makes me think that perhaps I should read to her far more often.
I pull out all the stops, adding in a different voice for each character. Grace laughs at my baby bird voice and when I finish the book she begs me to read it again and I do.
These phases, I've just realized (for the millionth time), do not last long. I must take advantage of them while they are here.
My oldest just had the health (sex) talk at school. You remember the one. The boys and girls are separated and both groups are privately informed of all the mysteries of the body including puberty and sex. I am so thankful I decided to have this chat with Joey already. And I'm even more thankful when he comes home that day and quizzes me on just how much I know. I'm shocked at how frank and open he is with me, both with his questions, his comments, and how comfortable he is discussing the topics. NEVER in a million years would I have discussed this with either of my parents when I was younger. I try to feign indifference and act as nonchalant as possible.
I realize this phase, too, will most likely pass but I would like to prolong the comfort and honesty and openness of this relationship indefinitely.
Tommy, who is his father's shadow, has recently taken to sticking by my side. He helps me plant the flowers, offers to help me cook, and stays behind with me when everyone else rushes out with Todd to run errands. It is not often I get one on one time with Tommy and I let him know how much I enjoy it. We take a break and go outside to shoot some hoops together. We play horse and the game goes on forever. We are both on a hot streak. No one misses. He chats about how he is like me, but he is also like his dad. I nod and agree and think back to how I could never call myself my daddy's girl or my mommy's girl because I was both. Tommy is the same way and I hope it isn't a phase.
Ben has his first book report due. He sits at the computer typing at a snail's pace. Hunt, hunt, hunt... peck. Hunt, hunt... peck. I ask him if he wants me to help him type it but he refuses. He will do it by himself. I read over his shoulder and I'm immediately impressed with his wording and his paragraph. First grade and he is doing his book report all by himself. I can't help but be amazed and proud. What kind of boy is this that I don't even have to cajole, coax, and assist in a homework project?
Just the other day Ben came home with his spelling test. I had forgotten he had a test that day and felt guilty that I hadn't help him properly prepare for it. "Don't worry, mom. I got a hundred plus the bonus words. I studied by myself. No big deal." he tells me and then hands me a little note. I read the note from his teacher saying that Ben got a special prize for good behavior and helping another student. My responsible, smart, sweet and considerate Ben. Tell me this isn't a phase.
Grace is going through the chatty phase. Four year olds and their chatter. Infamous. Luckily for me her chatter is far outweighed by observations and not so many questions (unlike her inquisitive brothers who never stopped with the questions). Driving along in the car I get to listen to her thoughts and ideas on everything she sees.
"You know, mom, there are pink cows." Grace tells me.
"Pink cows?" I asked surprised at this announcement.
"Yes. There are! PINK cows!" she says again.
"When did you see a pink cow?" I ask obligingly.
"Well, I didn't see the pink cow but I saw pink miwk in the growcewy stowa! I saw it! It was pink miwk!" she says excitedly.
I can't help but laugh. Pink milk from pink cows. Wouldn't that be lovely? So sweet. So innocent. I look back in the mirror and see her smiling face and I am filled with such love I want to pull the car over right there and squeeze my girl.
Some phases we want to pass quickly. The testing phase. The waking up in the middle of the night with nightmares phase. The backtalk phase. The whining phase. The grumpy phase (this one would be me). The lazy phase. The destructive phase. Those we'd like to fade away quickly though some do tend to linger past their welcome. But these phases, where we are right now, I really wish they'd stay.
I am not trying to flatter you when I say this is one of the most beautiful posts I have ever read. So eloquent, so moving. You are a lovely mom. Your kids are blessed that you chose to stay home and make them your life's work.
Oh, me too. I wish they would last! But as I reminded a dear friend of mine the other day, a new mom who was mourning the change in her firstborn from baby to toddler, there's still so much good to come! Even parenting a teenager has some really great moments, I promise you. :)
I just love the way you write about your sweet kids. You've got a beautiful way with words.
Oh, I so want to rush some things and then I realize that if I rush them, the next "thing" will come.
And pink milk...totally makes sense to come from a pink cow!
You have painted with your words a very rich time in your life! You do need to print and save this one in a memory book. Yes these are not phases...but there will be phases...phases you want to pass...just keep calm and remind yourself it is just a phase.
Wonderful post! It's nice that you have this blog to remember all these moments.
I too enjoyed reading this. I hope this phase lasts a long time. You are raising good kids!
I love the part about the pink cows!
But then I love it all....
I think the little phases make up the person they will become, in the end.
Hey Kat :) simply lovely...
they are amazing children. keep it up mama. and they will do just fine. i havent been on blogland in ages. so sweet to hear about the kiddos.
Wow, this post, amazing, Kat! So full of good and love and the joys of Motherhood. I think you are currently in a "sweet spot". I hope it lasts for a while... :)
Dawn- I believe that now more than ever. I was always such a baby lover that I am so pleasantly surprised by how much I love the older kids. They are so funny and observant and smart and interesting and creative. Always making me laugh. Fun to hang out with. I'm sure I'll enjoy my teenagers too. :)
I love the appreciation of the phases you're in! It's wonderful to stop and think about where you are and where your kids are in life and just enjoy it. :)
Beautiful post with such wonderful capturing of your life right now:)
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