There is the normal flurry of morning chaos. Children filter out the door at different times for different schools and different classes. There is the smell of burnt toast (still trying to calibrate the new toaster to “perfect”), the dog pawing at the glass door to be let out for his morning constitutional, the always-rush to find the missing shoe, or the hoodie, or the sock with the penguin on it. There are heavy backpacks, imperfect packed lunches glanced at with resignation and slight derision, the search for a library book, the last-minute dragging of a brush through reluctant hair. Then the door closes and it’s quiet.
My youngest turns ten in two weeks. We don’t have sippy-cups anymore, and all of our plates are made of something breakable. The fingerprints on the walls are now much higher, and the smudges on the glass door are mostly from the dog. I can leave a cup of my favorite cinnamon tea on the table, and the danger comes from the dog’s tail, and not curious little hands unaware of “hot”. The laundry overflows it’s wicker banks, but football and soccer jerseys have taken the place of pink-and-purple loads. The Elmo bath crayons have been replaced by Right Guard and Stridex.
I don’t miss the baby years. There are parents who are happiest when they have tiny ones, who love the intense hands-on devotion required when everything is small. While I note the passing of time with some nostalgia, my heart does not yearn for a return. I remember how hard it was, and how it felt to function on fumes. No, I don’t wish for it. I write to mark the tides, and to solidify my own awareness of the fleeting nature of all things. I love the passage of my children from small children into young people who have wicked senses of humor and tremendous creativity, and with whom I can laugh and talk and sometimes cry. But this, too, shall pass.
The choking football laundry will not always be spilling down my hallway, and making first chair for trumpet someday will be a memory instead of a proud announcement. Just like the plastic dinner-ware, someday this will be sweet nostalgia. The rooms in a house that often feels too-small with five boisterous kids and a giant dog, will, one by one, empty out. And while I am excited to turn the first empty room into an office, there are only so many offices one can be excited for… Too-small will gradually become too-big.
It’s just the way it goes.
With too-big will come other joys; I believe this, but I cannot yet conceive of how they will look and feel. Just as I couldn’t imagine the butterball of a ginger baby turning into a teenager who towers over me, or the baby who cried for years turning into a musical virtuoso with a sharp wit, or the bundle of pink easiness turning into a sensitive wunderkind of science, I cannot grasp what is yet to come- and that’s fitting. Living is for the now. I pause a moment to savor what I have today, and be grateful for what brought me here.
Today, I enjoy the quiet. It’s a respite before the door flies open again this afternoon and children tumble through, shedding and steady flow of backpacks, papers, instruments, sweatshirts, and half-eaten lunches. There will be quibbles for my attention and the cupboards will be raided for snacks and Mumford and Sons or the Hamilton soundtrack will join the chaos. The quiet today is a pocket, bookended by boisterous, messy, chaotic life. I am aware that someday, those poles will reverse, and I believe there will be beauty there, too.