It hit me like a ton of bricks last week. I was at the community pool, looking around to see what my kids were up to. Then I really looked at them. The big one was playing with her friends, her long arms and legs splashing. The little one was throwing herself off the diving board like a boss. The boy was in the shade, cracking jokes with his buddies. As I sat there drinking lukewarm coffee, I realized - Oh my God.
Here I am.
Here I am.
And of course it was the same day that my kids decided to turn our house into Thunderdome, fighting with each other constantly. I thought ordering a pizza for dinner would help turn it around. Then this happened:
Have you ever had a day like that? Where everything just degenerates into a huge goat rodeo? It was awful. So there I was the next morning at the pool, really looking at my kids. And even though we were still all fresh from the goat rodeo, I realized:
- Those are my kids right there: swimming and healthy and beautiful.
- Wait. Hold up. I’m not sitting in the too-warm baby pool, trying to pretend that it’s not disgusting.
- And I’m not changing diapers in the sweltering summer heat because everyone in my family can wipe their own nethers.
- I haven’t had to tell anyone not to drink the pool water this summer.
- I haven’t used a stroller in over a year.
- We are all (mostly) sleeping through the night.
- They hardly ever scream “mommy mommy mommy MOMMMYYY!!!” every two minutes anymore.
- I can pee by myself (almost 40% of the time).
- They are sort of independent and (somewhat) helpful lately.
- Yet they still need me and want me to be with them.
- I can get hugs and kisses and snuggles whenever I want.
- But they can also take out the garbage.
- They’re big, but they’re still little.
I’m in the sweet spot.
But there was also the smell of the top of their baby heads. And the pudgy, little kissable feet, that are now big and stinky. Their bodies that used to be part of me, are now entirely their own. They're not little anymore. That part of my life is over. And I find myself here, with three medium sized kids, in the sweet spot. I’m equal parts grateful and terrified.
That night I had a long conversation with my kids about how they thought our summer was going. At one point, my 8 year old son started talking about something he’d learned during swim team. Something about pushing off the wall and gliding before you take the first stroke. He was waving his arms and twisting his tanned, skinny torso around the kitchen to demonstrate. Then he stopped - still as a statue - with one arm curved high above him, his face turned and lifted upward.
(c)Herding Turtles 2009 - 2013