Checking Myself

I love childhood. The watching of it, I mean. I know my last post was all sorts of grumpy and scattered (and apparently typo-filled, from what I just saw. For a former teacher and editor, I’m looking a little rusty), and I still haven’t wrangled this crazy mess (in my house, in my head, whichever) under control, but I really do love it.

I was watching the girls today after lunch, before Quinn’s (attempt at a) nap. We’d just gotten home from a playdate with a bunch of my old from-the-beginning stay-at-home mom friends, and everybody was sort of relaxed and happy. The girls climbed up on the living room coffee table to sit, something they’re not exactly allowed to do, but immediately got absorbed in their playing, so I watched them for a moment instead of jumping to the usual reprimand. And I just wanted to swoop them into my arms and hug them forever, keep them this way as long as I can. Because it’s election day, and everyone I know, myself included, is up in arms about the outcome, and worried about lines at the polling places, and talking about fiscal responsibility and women’s health care and global warming and jobs. And here I was, sitting on the couch, looking at those little painted toenails, listening to the sudden break-outs into song, the contentment in pretending that a plastic milk bottle cap is a hat for a doll. I love it. I love how my children can just enjoy the world, and their lack of control in it, and the simple knowledge that it exists solely to play, eat, sleep, learn, and love. That’s it. I’m not jealous of it, for sure. I think I’m just contented by it:  the giggling, and the swinging of feet, and the fact that they will play until the younger one says, “Mom? I’m tired. Can I take a nap?” It’s like they hold all the answers to our questions in their tiny little hands, while we’re frantically scrambling around trying to decide whether people should be allowed to marry or not.

There’s so much…how do I say, crap that comes along with the kids. You heard me whine about it on Monday. Saoirse has a solid future as a hoarder. Everywhere I look in the house, regardless of whether we’ve just tidied or cleaned, I can find a box or a bag filled with stuff. Crayons. Scraps of paper with drawings on them. Matchbox cars. Doll baby pacifiers. Headbands. Those little subscription cards that come with magazines. She went through a phase a couple of months ago where she was gift-wrapping toy cars and bracelets and leaving them around the house to keep for later. There’s just so much of it.

But these are the girls that hang their coats up on little hangers when we walk in the house, and store their stuff in piles to keep till tomorrow. They wear rain boots with pajamas, and princess dresses over play clothes, and run around the house with toy wands, calling, “Magic! Magic! Magic!” Saoirse just asked me if she could watch a DVR’d episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (I cannot staaaaand Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. It’s just weird to see a mouse in an apron and high heels), then said, “Actually, Mom, I’d like to play a while more before I watch my show,” before skipping into the playroom to find her favorite toy on wheels. Every night before bed, she still asks, “Mom? What are we going to do tomorrow?” These kids just address one day at a time, that’s it, and each time are excited to see what it has in store. They make it seem so easy.

I love my kids. I love their childhoods. Keep reminding me of this when I start to crumble again (you know, in two seconds). Because this is all it is, I think, this full-time parenting. It’s the constant swinging between trying to capture every single moment you’ll want to remember later on, while trying to keep it together, to not lose yourself in the mess and the monotony and the scraps of paper you find stuffed behind the couch when you’re vacuuming. This is life as I know it. And I think that, once again, I need to take the hint from my children and just throw myself onto the coffee table, swing my feet around a little, and make it up as I go along.

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