Next week my oldest child is on spring break.
She’s in preschool, only during the mornings, and even this is only four days a week, but for little kids this relatively short period of time meets so many needs that I can’t.
She gets to play with friends, get energy out, try new crafts, ride the school bus, eat snacks I don’t keep at home, etc, etc.
Next week we will be staying home. We will likely have on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in the mornings. I’ll probably not feel so rushed putting on my mascara. (These things seem inconsequential, but they are huge—they are spring break!—to me.)
We’ll play together—my oldest, my youngest, and me. Maybe we’ll go outside in the backyard, if the weather’s nice, or perhaps we’ll make a stop through the cupcake drive-thru. Regardless of what simple activities I decide to do with my kids, it will be just me, and them, and a descent chunk of hours during the day. No other adults. No wine. Never enough coffee. And I can’t wait.
I can’t wait to not feel hurried to get her to finish breakfast so that we can brush her teeth. I can’t wait to wash my hair in the morning and not have a time limit—shorter than my other time slot for eating my peanut butter toast—to dry it. I can’t wait to see my child’s face every day, all day long. (I’m a cheese-ball, I know.)
She’s transitioning to kindergarten next year. And I call my youngest “the baby,” but she’s actually more of “the toddler.” In short, I feel like I’m in that special, fleeting time in my life, and I could easily miss it with worry and stress, if I’m not careful; if I don’t just stop, pause and be here.
Life sometimes feels like it’s about meeting this particular milestone to get to that one over there, but it’s not. Life—cheese-ball and true—is meant to be enjoyed, savored, held onto—felt.
I’m feeling nostalgic for the baby that my oldest once was, as I watch her grow into a delicate yet strong little girl. I’m feeling equally soft-hearted for “the baby” who I can breezily hold a conversation with, and who is less and less of a baby with every day that drifts by us.
Life blows past us—if we’re not careful—especially as parents to young kids. But having children is not easy. It’s about being responsible for these precious little lives that are taking shape; helping them to flourish and blossom, while also being mindful and aware enough to appreciate each small step.
My littlest is currently obsessed with doing anything that she can all by herself, primarily eating. She’s gloriously inside of that food-in-the-hair phase, and I’m loving it. Life is way too brief to worry about stains on favorite clothes, or a handful of hummus in freshly washed hair. (And this is coming from someone pretty darn anal.)
Spring is dawning all around my family and me. I feel like I want to plant my feet in the dirt alongside the crocus flowers, and dig in, and be as present within my life as I’m able. Don’t get me wrong, I know that I’ll still have all of our normal, daily requirements, like diapers, and dishes, and frustration. This said, I routinely subscribe to the “it can wait” mentality, because it’s true that a dirty plate will be able to sit in the sink until later tonight, but my “baby” talking to me about what she’s imagining while she’s playing, or my oldest giving me a great big hug for no reason are temporary. (Try asking a kid for a previously-attempted hug after placing that glass in the drying rack, and see just how fast an attention span is off to something else.)
So next week, on our spring-break staycation, you’ll likely find me with a toddler mildly covered in food, or with wet cheeks from little girls’ kisses. You’ll find us in the backyard with the soccer ball, or in the car headed to the zoo. I’m sure you’ll find me desperately waiting for my husband to come home, so that I can tag him and go to the bathroom by myself. I’m sure you’ll also observe me taking deep breaths so that I don’t lose my temper.
I hope you’ll find me sitting on the floor reading books, and doing nothing in particular, except for taking in that dimple that forms on the side of my oldsest daughter’s smile, or touching my youngest’s hair that reminds me of a baby duckling. I hope I’m not too frazzled to remember how precious being a mom is, in this quick snap of my lifetime.
I don’t want to be that mom who throws her kid happily on the school bus, but I usually am—and it’s more for her than it is for myself. Kids should love school. Parents should have things to do extraneously from being a parent. Still, this spring break—although we’re not going to Florida, or doing much of anything, really—can be a highlight on the reel that is the movie of my life.
Life is for many things, but for me, right now, it’s about raising two of the most special little human beings I’ve ever been lucky enough to meet, much less call my daughters. It’s about knowing I’m lucky, despite the stress. It’s about remembering that these tiny faces grow bigger and bigger.
It’s understanding that spring break is—fingers crossed—a mindset.