Back in the day, when I was reading every book I could find on infertility and adoption and…well, babies, I came across a story (somewhere in there) about a new mother — thanks to in vitro or some other modern miracle — with a cranky baby. Her friend comes to visit, and the baby is howling. The new mommy, at her wit’s end, says, “I know, I know, I asked for this.” And her friend says, “Honey, you begged for it.”
My daughters are no longer babies, but the last few months — with all three living at home — have somehow managed to remind me of the intensity and difficulty of having infants and toddlers and preschoolers underfoot. This summer, as much as I ever yearned to have children, I have yearned for them to grow up and move on.
A lot of this feeling stems from Em’s summer on-line classes. “I can’t work at home,” she tells me. “I hate the library.” What she likes to do is to go to a coffee place and drink iced black-tea lemonades or fancy coffee drinks that look like milkshakes. But sitting at Tully’s or Starbuck’s, I can usually get her to focus for an hour or two…or more. Bit-by-bit she has worked all the way through an algebra class and part way through U.S. History. Wish us luck in getting through to the final exams (in both classes) by Sept. 6.
It’s so easy to complain about our lives, about diapers and crying babies and laundry and homework and housework and even book deadlines. But the other day, while supposedly working on a class, Emma wanted to talk about the Mukilteo shooting. I listened to her as she reported on all that she and her friends have been processing, and what she has been told about the funerals. She concluded with something one of the fathers said: “I was supposed to be driving him to college. Instead, I’m attending his funeral.” And, looking old and wise, gravely shaking her head, she went back to work.
That was all it took to flip my blues off and the gratitude on. All the petty drama we’ve gone through in the last few months — the clutter and sugar and road trips for family stuff and the mess (which I am always complaining about) — is so worth it, with all three of my daughters. They have big hearts and they are fiercely independent in spirit, if not quite out of my house yet. Someday (I truly believe) they really will be grown up and ensconced in their own lives. And I will miss the hell out of them.
Meanwhile, I’m so thankful that I get to hang out with this kid. It’s been a great way to spend my time this summer.