Thursday, October 07, 2004

Children and Time...

Today Eric and I found ourselves alone. I don't mean that we made some incredible discovery. No, we spent the evening by ourselves. No kids at home. Weird.

Matt is on a two-day camping excursion with his sixth-grade class to study biology. Hopefully it doesn't turn into a human biology lesson. Yeah, that is how MY mind works. Neither Eric or I have any recollection of our respective junior high schools sending us anywhere overnight. Hey, if there are chaperones, I'm all for it. He's not in Boy Scouts, and we haven't done any real camping so far. It may be a good experience.

Sean is spending the night at the neighbor across the street's house. I wasn't supposed to be home tonight. I should have been in Santa Rosa, giving a presentation on Geocaching to the Sonoma County Radio Amateurs. My hemotologist preached long and hard on the dangers of my taking any long car trips, especially if I would be the one driving. Since we had already made the arrangements for Sean's stay at Brandon's house - and I made the mistake of telling him about it - we were kind of locked into letting him have his stay. Thank God for Evelyn Cole!

So, tonight Eric and I ordered Chinese take-out and watched a CSI-athon ("CSI:" reruns on Spike, followed by new episodes of "CSI: Miami" and "CSI: NY"). We made the mistake of ordering the same amount of food that we would have if the kids had been home. I made the mistake of perpetually listening for my boys' regular noises. "Mommy hearing" isn't a myth or exaggeration... it is a known fact that every woman who gives birth develops a significant increase in her ability to hear her child sneaking spoonfuls of sugar from two rooms away, and can tell when one of her kids is pulling off far too many sheets of toilet paper than necessary.

All of this has made me realize how truly small the amount of time is each day that we spend with our kids. Really. No, think about it:

When our babies are born they are practically still attached to us - nursing, being changed, burped, nursing, sleeping in our arms. Over the progressing years we don't allow them to stray far because danger is lurking around every kitchen sink and heater grate and we always have at least one eye trained on their every move. They become more independant, not needing to be under our watchful gaze all waking hours, and that is when we begin to realize that we need to wean ourselves from them just as they do from us.

By the time they start school they are only truly in our presence for a few hours a day - awake, anyway. My two are in grade school, and leave in the morning without much help from me. They come home in the mid-afternoon, ready to do homework and chores, then run out and play with their friends. Before I know it, dinner is over, they are putting their clothes out for the next school day and it is bedtime. From three p.m. until eight p.m., time RACES past me in a blur, and the next thing I know I am doing the late-night Mommy Hearing tune-up while listening to them settle into their pillows.

When they are home I can't hug them enough. It shocks me. This love is so deep that I want to crush them into my chest, inhale the scent of their hair, relish the feel of their small bodies in mommy hugs, only to have them push away and make that "Geez, Mom!"-sound that means I've embarrassed them.

But tonight they aren't here. Matt is eighty miles away and Sean is only across the street, but they aren't HERE, where I can peek in and listen to them sleep. My pain is horrible. I feel like the large carnivore mothers who frantically search for their baby even though it has only wandered down the path a few feet further than they. I think the term I've heard for a frantic mother bear is "bawling". Yeah, that fits.

Tonight I am child-less. Instead of relaxing it is stressful. For me. Eric is sleeping like a lump. Since Matt was born I began using the phrase, "Time Flies When Your Having Kids". Never has it been more appropriate than tonight.

Good Night, my babies. I love you, wherever you are.


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