Sticky fingers, sweaty foreheads, bare feet dirty from outside play- I only get to live this summer once.
Wiggling children piling high on my still form as their idea of a nap and mine are radically different. Giggles, twinkling eyes, baby thigh pudge. Next summer they will all be a year older.
Long walks in the wagon, swims at the beach, bike rides through the countryside- something about having children at this stage makes everything so much harder to do. Living, breathing- getting out of the house. Everything takes more effort because it is squeezed in around diaper changes, breastfeeding, toddler tantrums times 2, and willful disobedience.
I think to myself about next year's change- hope that perhaps a year of growth might bring with it a slightly easier crew to juggle. That maybe we can soak in the golden summer moments as they were meant to be enjoyed instead of this constant exhaustion and the keeping-them-safe fear. And yet as I think about not getting this exact summer back again, I am sad.
I am sad of the thought of Eli no longer being a baby. Of Addison next fall prepping for kindergarten. Of Carter growing that much bigger and stronger. Of new words being said, new skills obtained, new heights crossed of on the growth chart.
So I struggle between holding tight to each day- enjoying them for the flawed jewels that they are- and wishing them away to a time when walking to the car from the house doesn't include an escape plan and a three tiered plan of attack.
Today's schedule included swim lessons, nap, and Costco. Three things. THREE. And yet, I sit here at the end of the day, exhausted and swatting away flies on the deck while they all sleep inside because I need space from this never ending day.
I long for them to cling to me, and yet when they cling too long my introverted self starts getting twitchy. I wish they would stare deep into my eyes and tell me all about their world, and yet after an afternoon of toddler babbles, I just really want some good old fashioned silence. I want to be involved in their lives- to care about every single thing that they care about, but sometimes I find myself detaching. Finding some distance. Seeking to refuel while still barreling down the highway.
I think perhaps summer is my most difficult parenting season because I have to do it mostly alone. In the last month I can count two weeknights that Aaron was actually home when the kids were awake. Two. I hold no ill will toward my husband for this. He is working so hard for us. There is sacrifice that is wed to ambition that is wed to providing for a family. He is very good at this, and I am so proud of him.
And speaking of wed- tomorrow marks 8 years. 8 years since a very naive 21 year old said "I do". Now I have 3 kids, a marriage that is halfway through grade school, and just enough knowledge to know that I don't know what the heck I'm doing.
As the children peacefully snore and I wait for hubs to get home, I think of tomorrow. Another day. Exactly like today.
My adventurous side cringes at the stability of my hours. And my comfortable homebody self tells the adventurous side to go talk a hike- this is amazing.
But then I remember that tomorrow is not just another day. It is an anniversary of one of the best decisions I ever made. It is the anniversary of two kids promising something to each other and then fighting like anything to keep that promise even when it is hard. Even when life sucks. Even when we get knocked down and then kicked while we are down.
8 years. 8 years of fighting for something that I believe in. 8 years of choosing love. 8 years of keeping a promise. It has been 8 years well spent.
I will never get this summer back.
Next year it will be 9 years. And each child will be a year older. And our family will graduate one step closer to…I don't even know what.
Tiny hands holding mine, baths full of splashing, meals that hit the triumph of being eaten by toddlers, soft hugs that are too short, the whisper of tiny snores, the lilt of new voices finding their stride, laughter that is infectious in a way I've never experienced before, seeing life through 3 sets of eyes experiencing all things for the first time.
Now that I think of it, this phase is pretty amazing. It is after all…bedtime (-;