Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Missing Them

I walked the girls to school yesterday morning under a rising sun. The forecast promised to be warm again, 18 degrees. I kissed them all and said, "I'll see you at the end of the day," watching their oversized backpacks bounce into the schoolyard. Skylar was leashed to my hand, and she pulled, asking for a walk with a wagging tail and fixed stare. I happily obliged. As we rounded the corner on the path that goes by the play structure, I was heartbroken to suddenly feel the absence of a fat-fisted hand in mine. No little girl walked with me. I strolled past the park a little forlorn, for no one was asking me to stop and watch her on the swings.

I have moments like these, wherein I am reminded how impermanent it is to have small children. All my kids are in school, and have been for months. I suppose the changing season is what feels new; this is the first spring I walk through the park after dropping the girls off at school where I don't have a little one in tow. I have a friend with a toddler at home who tells me how much she craves a few hours to herself, untouched by grabbing hands, not answering to cries for "mama" when it has only been two minutes since the last request for attention. I am reminded of the desperation I felt when the girls were at home, Rich was at work, and the days were long.

This new stage brings small heartaches for the passage of time, for the stinging reminders of stages that will not return. A new development is that I find myself missing them. When I am away at work, out of the house for bedtime, or can't be there to pick them up from school, I miss it. When they are having adventures at school, I am having my own, working, writing, researching, going and doing, and when we reunite, we have stories to tell each other. I have the chance to look forward to seeing them. I miss some bedtimes and then delight in making up for it the next night by reading their stories, rubbing their backs, listening to them tell me about their day. We hug and I soak in what used to drown me. 

I am really enjoying loving them this way. I anticipate the joy of our Friday evening tradition of watching a movie while eating pizza in our pyjamas. I break away from what I am doing when I see one feeling left out before school in the morning, and we pick up a book to read together, slowly. They don't need me to dress them, to get out the colouring, or empty their lunchboxes when they come home. They can get themselves up in the morning, and when I have tucked them into bed, they can be left to fall asleep on their own. They are growing into such amazing, self-assured people, which leaves space to fill in my own life again.

I am glad to be going back to school in the fall, and I am thankful for the transitory lead time. I am glad for the chance to miss them, a little bit, so when we are together again, I whole-heartedly enjoy it. I am not needed as frequently, and this is the natural order of things. Abby needs me to answer her questions about navigating life with a full, sensitive heart. Hailey needs to snuggle into my chest while I remind her of her unique qualities when she needs assurance about her identity. Robin needs me to validate her when she notices something beautiful about a song, or a picture. Summer needs me to laugh at her jokes and listen when she reads. I know how to do all of that.

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