I’m in my forties and my babies are not babies anymore. Time is roaring onward so I’m changing my priorities leaving dust to grovel at the bottom of my list. I see the dust in my house, and I love it. I’m choosing my own play dates with my kids over a perfectly cleaned home.
Moms of kids under five may feel too swamped to realize this amidst never ending sippy cups and diaper changes, but time sprints once kids are school-age. My youngest anticipated his turn to start school, but I blinked and the kindergarten year was over.
I am chasing down time. It makes me realize I need to dwell in the present to enjoy my boys. All too soon they will be out of school making their own lives as adults and I will just be watching them from the sidelines.
As I hug them I can’t believe two of them are almost as tall as me. My youngest just learned to read but I don’t want to stop reading to him. I don’t care if dust is pasted on my dresser or I have three laundry baskets of clothes waiting for me to fold. 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 while eating dill pickle sunflower seeds. I want to endure the hot sun beneath my sunscreen and watch their lacrosse and football games. I want to soak in the pool under the sunshine while they make wipeout courses with floaties. I will try to love when they fall in and splash me, speckling my sunglasses with water spots.
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 just like my grandma did. I want to trip over obstacle courses as my 6-year old rearranges all the chairs and lines blankets around the house to make borders for 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 to eat on the deck as my mother did for me.
Kids getting bigger is a blessing; I’m learning to relish it because this age won’t last. Tomorrow they will grow again and I won’t be able to stop it. Moms, 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 helpful, 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’s hand as she steps down.
I love how they outgrow their shoes and grow into double digits. I need to claim that crazed 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 cards on the deck while eating licorice and drinking lemonade.
Who cares about hair balls and muffin crumbs, I choose to care about my short stint getting to be mom. Screw the perfect house. I’m taking my own play dates with my kids.
Originally published on Huffington Post: