In three days both of my children will be leaving for “Nana Camp”. This is an annual event in the Morley family when my mother-in-law takes all of her grandchildren over 3 years old and hosts them for a week. During this time the kids revel in eating ice cream and pizza at every meal, swimming until they collapse, not bathing, not eating vegetables and basically being allowed to do whatever they want. It is truly a child’s paradise and I’m lucky to have such a mother-in-law. The last two years Lucy has been old enough to go but not Max. Although this was very sad for Max, I was glad to have one “little chick” at home. Alas, this is the year that both will leave me.
I feel like I’ve been counting down to this moment since Max was born and yet now that it is here I’m feeling less sure. What will my house be like without my kids? I’m going to come home from class to what? Silence. The last time my house was totally silent was the moment before I woke David up to drive me to the hospital for Lucy’s birth. Part of me has visions of being this super-productive person who organizes closets, cleans under the kitchen table, and finishes up the kid’s baby books. But instead I fear I will be unfocused and unsure of what to do with my body. Without my children will my day lack all structure and direction? And is that something that I should worry about?
I lived alone once. I have the pictures to prove it. A small 680 square foot apartment with one bedroom and a fireplace. It was smartly decorated, spotlessly clean, and every inch was a reflection of me. Now, I live in a 2,000 square foot house that holds the footprint and reflection of a family – husband, kids, in-laws, friends, etc. I don’t know how to exist alone in this space. This is a space no longer intended for one person. How will it feel to have a glimpse backwards to a life that I no longer have and no longer want?
As of now I’m going to focus on how lovely it will be to sleep in, go to a movie with my husband, eat out, cook breakfast for MYSELF, and take a shower without an audience. On second thought, ignore everything I just said.
This weekend you learned to use the potty. I realize that as a teenager you will be sufficiently horrified that I felt it necessary to tell the whole world about this milestone, but I have a reason. You, my dear son, do not like to do new things. You like going to new places, you like new people, and you like new food. You do not, however, like doing any activity that isn’t forced, required or outside of your comfort zone.
You were 15 months old before you started walking because you deemed it unnecessary. After all, you were a mighty fine crawler and it seemed silly to rock the boat. You only recently would even go into the water to THINK about swimming and that is because I FORCED you to swim with me. You cried. You screamed. You then realized it wasn’t so bad. This is the same process I used to potty train you. After waiting a ridiculous amount of time for you to “naturally” be ready to use the toilet I woke up Saturday and said to myself; “today is the day”! I proudly announced to you that there would be no more diapers or pull-ups. You could wear underwear or go naked and I didn’t care if you cried, which you did. You cried some more and then Daddy showed you how to pee standing up and all was right in the world. You now proudly acknowledge that you “love” underwear. Really? Because less than 24 hours ago you were throwing a temper tantrum that you hated underwear and you were NEVER going to wear it.
While your sister finds comfort in visiting the same places with the same people, you find comfort in wearing the same clothes and doing the same activities. You are still wearing t-shirts from over a year ago because you refuse to wear any of the new shirts I buy you. You won’t wear long pants but instead, insist on wearing “tiny pants” (otherwise known as shorts). It is not the routine of the day that comforts you, but the knowledge that you have control over certain aspects of your life. Every child is different and I’m realizing that you need to be pushed at different times, at different stages than your sister. Lucy fears change – you just don’t want to put the energy into adapting.
Consider this a warning, cuz boy, I’m on to your game.
We spent the weekend at the lake house in east Texas. Max is still scared of swimming in the lake and so he spent most of his time fishing. A new hobby for him. He caught three fish. He was very serious about his fishing though and wanted to hit the water as early as 7:00 AM and was still sitting on the dock at 6:00 PM. David snapped this photo of Max as he sat on the dock. No further words are necessary.