It’s the hump day of my spring break, which is really turning out to not be a break (got the freelance job) and I am sitting at my filthy dining room table with Lizzie’s Lush face mask on my nose, procrastinating.
I have a lower backache that is killing me slowly. It’s twenty-nine degrees outside and on Monday, it snowed. Luke is angry with me because every single one of his friends are off to some place warm and wonderful, chilling out on beaches (Luke: “Why don’t we EVER GO ANYWHERE? ALL OF MY FRIENDS ARE SOMEWHERE?” Me: “Yeah? How many siblings do your friends have?”) and here we are … small, dirty house in Wisconsin, out of cash, out of food (frozen pizza and ramen ’til Friday), and still, I am loving my spring break.
In theory, I would love to be on a beach vacation too. I see your Facebook posts of sunsets and pelicans. In practice, it sounds expensive and exhausting. I remember when Luke was in first grade and after break all the kids at school drew stories and wrote pictures about their week away. Ninety percent of the kids wrote about exotic vacations (seriously exotic too … Switzerland, France, Ireland) and I recall walking down the hallway reading them all. Then I got to Luke’s. I wish I had saved it. He wrote (underneath a picture of jail bars), “This spring break, I helped my mom clean bedrooms and move the crib.”
Ten years later, he is pretty much having the same break, sans crib. Yesterday we went to get his tux pants hemmed for prom. When Luke was changing, the tailor eyed up Quinn (the other kids are in school this week, so I had to bring him along) and said to me, as he gestured to the fitting room, “He’s the oldest?” I laughed and said he was. Most of the time, people either think that Luke is Quinn’s dad or that the boys must have different fathers. Gone are the days, I suppose, where the majority of people have children fourteen years apart (all with the same person). My grandma had grandchildren older than her children. I suppose that’s pretty rare these days, too.
Yesterday, I took Quinn to Montessori for his official entrance interview. This being the fourth time I have gone through this, I didn’t think much of it. He hopped out of the car, wearing his teddybear hat, with his actual teddybear in my purse (“just in case I need him”) and we walked, hand in hand, to the entrance. As we walked, I noticed how perfectly his soft, small hand fit in mine and the image of me holding him for the first time flashed in my mind. Still only a pound, he nested in the space between my chin and my collarbone. He was so light, I could not feel him, except that he was so warm. It was like holding a sleeping Tinkerbell. Magic.
When the director of admissions came out, she shook Quinn’s hand and said, “I have known you for a very long time, but I just haven’t seen you in awhile. Would you like to come with me?” He let go of my hand and took hers. As soon as he rounded the corner, my eyes welled up with tears. This blindsided me. I am not at all sad about him going to school. I am excited for him. I think it was that memory of his small self and the fact that Luke will be eighteen next week that brought me to tears. It just seems like Luke walked down that hallway, like yesterday that I read his story about his terrible vacation, like yesterday that his hand was smaller than mine.
I believe it’s important to write this because when I had very young children (three under five), I really didn’t like it much. I was anxious and exhausted and even kind of bored. It felt like being trapped in time … giving two babies a bath at once, teaching the other to read. Gosh, those “learn to read” years killed me. Yet here I am again, this time with just one wee one, and this time I just really love all of it. Everyday I am grateful to have this “do-over” chance with Quinn. That might sound terrible. I love all of them, but I should have been a much better mom to the others when they were very young. I would give anything to have had the patience for them that I do with Quinn… to fully understand that a kid who doesn’t want to wear socks is not a reason for an anxiety attack.
When Quinn is Luke’s age, Luke will be thirty-three … maybe even a dad himself (crap). I will likely be able to afford to take Quinn on a luxurious spring break (just ONE kid, really?). His teenage life will be very different from theirs. I suppose that might be something to look forward to, but for now, I am really, really happy to spend this break in my pajamas and glasses, Luke asleep in the other room, playing a game of Nerf football catch in my kitchen with a little boy who tells me that I am the best mom ever and hugs me so tightly that there is zero space between us.
Oh, I’ve missed you. This was magical. Get out of my brain already.
Enjoy that gorgeous little one, and that big guy, too (and all that’s in-between.)
This was a joy to read. Tears and joy and sighs. Thank you.
Thank you! I will be back with more frequency once this illustration job comes to a close. AAHHHHH! Sometimes, though, I just need to write to center myself again … to slow the gerbil wheel!