I set up playdough or sticker sheets. I help pull down pants and wipe bums and turn the “hot” tap off so no one hurts themselves. I let them choose their own clothes, no matter the combination. I help when asked, sometimes when refused.
I blink and the kitchen is covered with little balls of red clay mashed into the grooves in the tile. The girls are long gone, their interest here lasted only a moment. They are now cutting construction paper into shapes or playing with their bears or wearing a set of random new clothes (squeezing into a size 12 month sleeper is a current favourite). I ask them to come help me clean up the previous mess, they oblige.
We head out onto the deck, the three of us. Me with a heavy basket of wet clothes on my hip, followed by one, two, and the SLAM they shut the door for me. One picks a clothes pin out of the basket, hands it to her sister, who hands it to me. Hanging seven towels on the line takes a painfully long time.
We are three. In the car, in the store, in the bathroom, even while I’m in the shower, there are two little faces peering at me or talking to me or yelling at each other in my bedroom.
My patience has been lengthened by the sun, I swear, and I promised to myself to be the mother I am in my heart this entire summer. I have collected my life in my arms and I embrace it. I embrace these girls and their minds and souls and spirits.
When I read this this morning, I thought, Yes. No. Yes.
I used to feel that way. I used to think that I didn’t exist outside of the little circle that is my family. And God, I hated that feeling. To be insignificant, to be invisible. To not be a woman to any other man than my husband. And then I decided to stop feeling that way. If I am a desirable woman to my husband, than surely I am a desirable woman. But more importantly, I asked myself who I really wanted to be.
Am I the mom whose kids watch too much tv? Am I the wife who bitches and nags? Am I the 30 year old woman who talks about what she used to do/be/have “before”? No, no, no. I don’t want any of these things, I don’t want to be that woman.
I made myself do things that make me happy, outside of this happy little life of ours. I write and I am a TA for a class I really love and I coach my clinic and I run and bike and swim and sometimes I even get a chance to go out for dinner with a girlfriend. My life is lonely at times, but I think that’s part of the equation when you’re a half working mom with no co-workers.
I used to feel trapped by the smallness of my children, and then I blinked and four months had gone by that I just couldn’t remember so I stopped. Because my children will always dictate my life as much as I let them. I am the parent who drives and packs backpacks and makes lunches and bathes most of the time and does their laundry and plays stickers and I truly cannot express to you the joy that these small tasks bring me – to be able to care for and develop two whole real live human beings! But that doesn’t change the fact that I need something for me. I always have. It’s why I went back to school and it’s why I run and it’s why, sometimes, I get drunk just for the hell of it. Because despite my unending love for my kids, I begin to resent them when my life revolves around them 100%.
But often, when I watch them play and fight and hug and laugh and snuggle, I don’t even think about the rest of the world. Here, in our little cave, I kind of like being invisible.