I don’t think I thought this whole parenting thing through.
Throughout our early years of marriage we always talked about what I thought was normal stuff…
Houses, vacations, yard work, having kids, hanging wallpaper.
And then we had kids.
And the years went on.
Diapers, sippy cups, and Barney.
School, homework, laundry.
Toys, birthday parties, summertime crafting, vacations, buying stock in office supply stores.
First came elementary school graduations.
Then middle school.
Then the second.
And soon the third.
And then suddenly and without any warning whatsoever the oldest graduates high school (sure, it was last year but still!)
I’m sorry, wha?
Where have we been hiding all these years?
Wasn’t he just throwing a tantrum because he didn’t want to do the fourth grade homework work packet?
And now he is driving, able to vote, and off to college?
What. The. Fuck?
And before long – in a couple of very short years – child number two will be graduating high school.
And my youngest is one year away from graduating middle school before she heads off to high school as well.
How, why, when, what?
Yesterday we were watching Dora the Explorer and finding fun things to do with felt, hot glue, and construction paper.
And now. Now. Now we are shaving and searching for colleges.
There was a time when the children either all went with us or we hired a babysitter.
And I was prepared for everything up to right now.
See, I planned for babies. Kids. Toddlers. School-aged children. We built nurseries and painted rooms. We had baby showers and used strollers when we went anywhere. We hid the toys from Santa until the big day. We hosted creative birthday parties. We helped with homework and went to countless parent-teacher conferences. We went to the park. And the zoo. And water parks. And museums. And we read Goodnight Moon a million times. We took family photos and sent Christmas cards. At 8pm, the kids basically went to bed.
And now all of that is like some distant memory of a time gone by.
Which brings me to my point.
(I’ll get there eventually. Brevity, what?)
I guess I never envisioned what comes after all that. All the kid stuff. School-age, cartoon, food-cut-into-bite-size-pieces stage.
I can’t see it.
I’m a little lost now.
Granted, I still have two at home still in school but in five short years those last remaining two will be off into the big, bad world.
But then what?
Nineteen years ago on the fifteenth of June I went on maternity leave from my real estate underwriting job at a big ole bank.
And never went back.
I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom.
Oh sure, I’ve picked up a few jobs along the way. Creating this, writing that, publishing the other.
But for almost two complete decades my office has been at home with my kids.
And these days it is hard pressed just to get one of these tall children (a couple with facial hair) to even hug their mother.
I remember the time before we had kids….
We had almost five years of complete marital, childless bliss.
We traveled. We drank wine. We cleaned the house and it stayed clean. We both got our degrees. We dreamed. We hoped. We slept in.
And I guess there is some of that to come, I guess. But the dreaming and hoping seems a little late in the game of life. Maybe it isn’t, I don’t really know and no parenting books go beyond handling your children’s lunch making creative ant logs out of celery and raisins. And as for sleeping in, I’m a bit of an early riser otherwise I just feel lazy.
What am I missing? What is there to look forward to? I know that sounds silly – it feels silly just to write it but I don’t see the growth of children and grandchildren as something to look forward to. Is that bad?
Will there traveling and drinking wine? Gawd, I hope so. But we have traveled a bit and continued to drink wine during the job of child raising so I don’t see much change there.
As it is I walk around the house (when I’m not in here, ahem, writing of course) sort of listless. Lost. Without focus.
Who am I now?
Now that we are in our late forties and early fifties and not twentysomething newlyweds.
How in the world do I navigate this new position I find myself in? And why can’t the kids just sit with me on the couch as we read Dr. Seuss and watch The Big Comfy Couch for the hundredth time?
Meanwhile, I feel bored. And useless. And sad. And lost.