I see the dust in my house, and I love it. I’m in my forties and my babies are not babies anymore; they are 12, 10, and 6. Time is roaring on so I’m changing my priorities leaving dust to grovel at the bottom of my list. Moms of kids under five may feel too swamped to realize this amidst sippy cups and diaper changes, but time sprints once they are in school. You wish for the first day of kindergarten because you want them to be busy and occupied, but when it starts you blink and the kindergarten year is over. I am learning I need to dwell in the present to enjoy my boys because soon they will be out of school making their own ways as adults and I will just be watching them from the sidelines.
Not that I don’t want my own life or my own pursuits or my own time with friends, but I’m choosing my own play dates with my kids over a perfectly cleaned home.
As I hug them I can’t believe two of them are almost tall as me. My youngest just learned to read but I don’t want to stop reading to them. I don’t care if dust is pasted on my dresser or I have three laundry baskets of clothes in my bedroom waiting for me.
I have to catch and hold time for a bit.
This summer I want to go raspberry picking with my kids and make raspberry shortcake. I want to snuggle with them and go on walks and look at ducks in the pond. Pick up sticks and talk about the movie we just watched together. I want to make them pancakes in the morning and brownies in the evening. I want to watch them play baseball and eat dill pickle sunflower seeds. I want to endure the hot sun beneath my sunscreen and watch them play their lacrosse games and football games. I want to soak in cool water under the sunshine while they are making wipeout courses with floaties, falling in and splashing me much to my chagrin.
I want to unleash them in a giant candy store where they can pick their favorites. Some random summer morning I want to make homemade cinnamon rolls out of frozen bread dough like my grandma did. I want to trip over obstacle courses as my 6-year old rearranges all the chairs and lines blankets to make the borders of his paths. I want to trace their bodies in chalk on the driveway and let them draw their faces and color in their clothes. I want to blow bubbles while my 6-year old still squeals at them. I want to hand them bowls of cut up sugared peaches so they can eat them on the deck as my mother did for me.
Kids get bigger which is a blessing, but relish it because this age won’t last. Tomorrow they will grow again you won’t be able to stop it. You won’t want to stop it, but you will want to cherish it. Like mine, your smile will be bittersweet when they no longer need pushes on the swing in the summer sun because they can all pump now. You will smile as they tie their own shoes and make their own toast, and while their self-sufficiency is nice, serving them is oh so mommy and you will miss that when it’s gone.
I’m going to savor my summer dust.
I’ve lowered my housecleaning standards with each new baby, and now I’m lowering my standards again because I’m realizing how short their time is in my house. I want to relish it hard and fast like I’m gripping my last mommy breath. Like I’m holding them tight as I did when they were babies keeping them safe and loving them, keeping them with me. Now mine are the big kids holding the toddler hand as she steps down a step.
They get bigger all the time and I love that. They outgrow their shoes and grow into double digits. I need to claim that time crunch between dinner and practice because someday soon I won’t have it. I will miss it. I realize time is small. Time has blessed me with a new perspective.
I’m going to accept the shoes in the entryway and the water bottles on the bench. I’m going to try hard to smile at the pile of sand from the cleats and sweep it up with tenderness because the cleats won’t come home forever. They will go off to college and leave me. The sopping sweaty jerseys will stay at college without me to wash them and I will feel lonely without cringing at their wet touch. I will no longer have backpacks and lunch bags to unpack. I won’t have homework to help with, permission slips to sign, and library books to remind to return to school. I won’t have lunches to pack or potato chips to snitch in the early morning hours–because I won’t have lunches to pack.
I’m congratulating myself on lowering my housekeeping standards because my kids won’t remember the crumbs or the extra hair puff on the carpet. But they will remember our play dates when we played Go fish and Jenga on the deck while eating licorice and drinking lemonade. Who cares about hair balls and muffin crumbs, I’d rather care about my short stint getting to be mom. Screw the perfect house. I want my own play dates with my kids.
This piece originally appeared on The Huffington Post.
A mother of three boys, a wife, and a mama also to furry babies: two rescue dogs and two guinea pigs. Julie writes on her blog about antics and life with all males in the house (the bathroom never stays guest ready for more than an hour), motherhood, kids, family, faith, vegetarian recipes, and parenting. Her essays/posts can be found on Her View From Home, Parent.co, her own blog juliehoagwriter, Sammiches and Psych Meds, and soon appearing on Manifest Station. Julie has survived working as SAHM, a pediatric nurse, a scientist, and a veterinary assistant. Find Julie on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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