With the end of summer vacation looming and one more week until my oldest starts first grade, I don't know how many times I've repeated this sentence to friends, family, and anyone who has a conversation with me for more than one minute-- "I cannot wait for school to start."
With HJ being a child that thrives on routine, these last two weeks of no camp, no summer school, and every day a new "fun" activity, has sadly been somewhat of a spectacular failure in our household (i.e. today's last-minute trip to an indoor playground to hide out from the rain and avoid cabin fever). Unfortunately, it seemed that all of suburbia had the same idea, and everywhere I turned, I saw screaming, unhappy kids, and moms and a few dads with glazed-over eyes who I'm sure we're repeating the same thing to themselves, "Five more days, just five more days..."
Yet, even as I'm writing this, I remember just a couple months ago, with the busyness of end-of-school activities in full swing, just wishing and counting down for those carefree unscheduled summer days. Yes, the grass is always greener on the other side.
I remember before we had kids, and we were waiting to bring HJ home from Korea and for her visa to come through, I couldn't wait to be a stay-at-home mom, having all those free, unstructured moments just to be with your child. Now, even though I do freelance work from home, the idea of getting away to an office, even driving in the car by myself, having uninterrupted time to sit and think and complete a project, it seems like such a different life. A life I never appreciated when I was working full-time.
The examples I could come up with are endless. When we were trying to have a baby for over two years, and it wasn't happening, it seemed that the only thing in life that mattered was having a child. Now, five years and two kids later, it's always joking with other moms about the "good old days" pre-kids, and how much freedom we had back then. How we could travel anywhere, go out to eat at a moment's notice, watch a late-night movie, just grab a cup of coffee with friends whenever we wanted.
Then when we had our second daughter, it was all about, "Oh, just wait until she's three months old. Things will get so much easier then." Or, "Just wait until you get through the first year. Life will be so much easier then." Or, "Just wait until she is weaned, or potty-trained, or sleeping through the night." Whatever milestone you wanted to talk about. The golden days always seemed to be just around the corner.
Now that my youngest is three years old, and about to start preschool, I've heard so many times, "What are you going to do with yourself? What are you going to do with all that free time?"
Well, if 2.5 hours, three days a week, is all the time I get to myself, I will gladly take it. I will squeeze every moment of that time to finish my work, run as many errands as humanly possible, actually use the gym membership we pay for, and give a friend my full attention without a child doing her very best to keep that from happening at all costs.
But I'm sure at one point in the future, though I don't think it will be until quite a good amount of time has passed, I will be longing for those days when my kids were little. I may be thinking warm cuddly thoughts about the days when they were literally hanging on me as if the world would end if I put them down and made them walk on their own instead of carrying them. I may be longing for those nights when some part of their body had to be physically touching mine for them to fall asleep. Though to be honest, I have serious doubts that I will miss that part of young motherhood.
Today, as we were driving home in the rain, from that disastrous trip to the playground, my three-year old and six-year old were having one of those non-sensical arguments that only two children that age can have with such seriousness. Yesterday, it was all about my three-year old insisting that she was actually six, and my six-year old screaming back that she was not, and so on and so forth.
Today, it was about who got to be with mommy, and who got to be with daddy.
My youngest claimed mommy, leaving my oldest to be with daddy. And finding that not satisfactory, my oldest decided that she would get to be with mommy. To which I tried to say diplomatically, "Yes, you both can be with mommy and daddy." Which obviously was not good enough. So my youngest declared, "I DO NOT WANT TO SHARE MOMMY!" And after some additional back and forth about sharing, mommy, daddy, etc.. etc..., my youngest finally decided, "Ok, there need to be two mommies. Two mommies with two closets and the same clothes."
Ha. The same conclusion that I've reached many times before. I need to clone myself. That would solve everything. And apparently cloning myself only involves duplicating my closet and clothes.
Yes, please. Remind me years in the future when my two teenage daughters do not want anything to do with with their mother, that at one point they actually wanted to clone me. I know there will be one day that I will miss this. In the meantime, I am still counting down for school to begin. Five more days.
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