It is deliciously satisfying to sit in my reading chair, looking out the window at freezing rain falling, hearing the sounds of the girls playing nicely, while I sit and finish the last chapter of an Ann Patchett novel. I turn my head to watch an SUV navigate the unplowed layers of ice atop last night's snowfall, and breathe a sigh f gratitude I don't have to leave the house. I hear forceful grunts and dramatic cries as one of my girls gives make believe birth to a plastic baby girl. She walks in to present her baby, wrapped in a bandana, and calls me grandma.
After a while Hailey curls into my lap with an Elephant and Piggie book we read together. Robin comes to join us, and for a moment, I can press my nose into the crowns of their heads and remember cuddling them as new babies. They organically co-decide it is time to bid me adieu, and leave to set up nurseries for their own plastic babies. I finish the novel, exhale a sigh of sublime gratification, and take it in. This quiet afternoon. The hours that lay before us, all cooped up on this rainy day. I have no idea how we'll fill them, but I know we'll figure it out.
We ended up making hot chocolate, reading Shel Silverstein books, putting on a movie, colouring and cuddling a bunch more.
I dropped them off for a sleepover the other night, and Rich was on a plane to Edmonton to visit his brother and cousin. I had an empty house for the first time, ever, I think. No kids or Rich. It felt strange. I went for a walk and had no one with whom I should check in. I woke in the morning when I wanted, prepared breakfast in one portion size and watched cooking shows while I ate. I should have enjoyed the quiet, but instead I felt off-kilter.
This big house was too quiet. I felt a need to walk in each room just to use it. I heard the silence that is otherwise filled with their sleeping breaths, their raucous cacophony, their play. I became aware that one day, there won't be any kids in this house anymore. I thought about how Abby is almost eight, and that's only 10 years from 18.
And in that one quiet morning, before collecting the girls and their overnight bags, I was given a chance to be present. To hear and realize the wisdom passed to me from older women when these girls were babies: it all goes too fast. I didn't believe that for a second when I was up to my eyeballs in crying, diapers, milk, sleeves nights and high chairs. I see it now. I see the precious and fleeting nature of these years and days. I took a peak at what it would be like to walk through this house without kids in it, and I missed them. One day, that will happen for good.
So, when Christmas break is onto week two, my husband is away, and we are stuck at home on yet another day of forbidding weather, I am not lamenting my plight. I am not jumping in to make memories and be a saves-the-day-from boredom mom, either. I am watching them direct the play, picking up their cues of when it is time for snack, or a movie, or a board game break. I am letting them cuddle all over me, (elbowing me in the boob and stepping painfully on my shins), because one day they won't.