"For twenty-five years I have looked forward to uninterrupted nights, a house that stays neat longer than five minutes after I clean it, and a noise level below one decibel. As much as I loved my four children and teaching them... these were the things I longed for... Now, years later, the very things that were so important are mine in abundance. However, the empty nights seem uninteresting, the house has no reason to be clean, as it sits empty all day, and the quiet is agonizingly loud. My foolish dreams of yesterday have come true, and I chastise myself for trading productive moments with my family for grumbling and complaining." (Janet Tatman, Daily Focus)
This segment really grabs a hold of me. Each time I read it, I feel something in me come to a full stop. It is as if everything around me becomes quiet. What I experience is a process.
First, I step outside of myself and watch my immediate "struggle" with... whatever I feel I "need to" address at the moment, and, just allow myself to stop.
I want to just step away from whatever is distracting me from my time with my children. I start to reframe my idea of "how to get things done" and try to find ways we can creatively do such and such together. Dishes, baking, cleaning, science experiments, drawing, reading, sitting, walking, going for a bike ride, meeting up with friends.
I am encouraged daily to think outside of the box of "stuff I need to do" vs. "their stuff" and so diminish that separation of "me" vs. "them." We are in this together. It's everywhere. My shows. Their shows. My meals. Their meals. My activities. Their activities.
What if we blended some of these things together in a more "our" such-and-such kind of way? What is all this separation for? Whose independence? Theirs? Or mine?
I am 39 years old. I have had more than my share of independence. I am a mother now. I didn't sign up to separate from them as soon as possible. I have had a lifetime of "me" and that time will return. Erich and I had a long run of "just us." This is the season for raising our young family. The "me" and the "just us" period hasn't ended but it certainly isn't in equal parts as "time with the kids."
I don't need to be alone as much as I used to. A pedicure here and there... a girls' night out once in a while. Erich and I don't need to hit the clubs, take long walks in the city and pull 'all night partying up' as much as we used to when we were young and carefree.
I feel so grateful that I have never really felt the need to say, "Wow! Where did our time together go?" I have always known this time is finite. I know because I grew up wanting more time from my beautiful, hard working, loving parents. They worked so hard for us. They sacrificed oceans of separation, many holidays apart... to do what they did so well... provide for us. They made sure we had the essentials — food, shelter and love.
As work took them away from us physically, I spent many years of my life waiting for "my turn" with them. I patiently believed, year after year, after they do what they need to do to provide for us, earnestly, "our time will come."
But, instead, it passed.
We never got to make up the time we lost and we never will. We do what we can to be together now but I know this time is not ours anymore. It is mine and my husband's and my children's time. In turn, it is my parents' time with their grandchildren. I know I love and adore them and they love and adore me but our time together in the way of childhood every day togetherness has ended. As much as they wanted to be there for us, life did not deal them an easy hand, when they decided to raise us in a country foreign to them.
They could have chosen an easier road. "Forget these kids, transplanting ourselves and giving them an American education. We live a nice cushy life here in the Philippines, at the top of our game, servants to do everything for us and friends to meet at this or that club. They will manage just fine with all these other luxuries."
But they didn't make that choice. They chose us over them. They discarded their privileged world to struggle instead in a foreign one where they had to start from the ground up. Their former high ranking career positions and social status were all but nullified here, but they pressed on. They could not give me the day-to-day I personally needed at certain points in my life, though it was not for a lack of trying on their part.
Like me now, they had to do then what they could to adjust, juggle, manage and help us live out our best lives, while reconstructing their own. I can't imagine any of it was easy.
So this profound appreciation of time with my children, this is their gift to me. I am not going to throw it away. I am exhausted but mostly re-energized knowing... yes... twenty-five years from now, this house is going to be quiet and Erich and I will drop pins so we can hear some noise.
We are in the season for young child rearing, right now. We aren't going to miss the little or the big things because it is in the every day and each moment we make available that counts. And, we are here, together. Now.