My husband, Joe, and I are dropping our boys off tonight for 24 hours of no-kid time. This is the second time in two months, but also only the second time in the last 5 years. Last time we sat in content elation, peaceful with the stillness of the world. Driving around after our dinner was so odd– no chatting, screaming, or constant “mommy, mom, mommy, mommy!” The world looks different without kids in tow; I noticed more of our surroundings than I had in ages without the intense constancy of putting out fires, answering questions, and singing songs.
What do people without children do? Calm peace is amazing, but an ongoing life of that would seem to me to be like a sensory deprivation chamber. How long can you sit and hear your own thoughts, be concerned only with your spouse and yourself? When the kids are screaming, I find my mind wandering to that contently quiet place without children. But when I look over and they’re playing legos or making chainmaille while making up songs with each other, the contently quiet place seems so blank.
I’ll say it again: motherhood drives me insane while maintaining my sanity. So tonight, Joe and I will be calmly wrapped up in each other; conversation, a beer, a movie that’s not made for kids. Our world will take on the sepia tones of adulthood. And tomorrow we’ll pick them up from the sitter, hug them, and the intense vibrant colors of our life will flood back in.
So it turns out that the oddest things really are the best toys.
Ben (4 years old) has latched onto a flax seed pillow that I recently got from The Rarest Bird on etsy:
I thought it would be great for my sore back, but it really does work better as a helmet, shield, boat, and weighted shoulder bag. And in case you’re wondering, that’s a sword made by my other son, Damon, from a branch. Action figures? No thank you, Ben will take his flax pillow and branch every time.
Update on Ben’s flax pillow obsession: I decided that I wanted mine back, so I ordered him his own from The Rarest Bird. Much to my surprise, he chose the lovebirds fabric rather than the Surf Ninja fabric. He’s had it for just under 24 hours and hasn’t released it. Bonus (for me, not for my husband, Joe who hates flowery smells): he always smells like lavender!
I like to say that motherhood drives me insane while maintaining my sanity. I think that nails it. I can’t imagine my life without my four boys and the beautiful mess of our current suburban life, but I do dream (guiltily) of the day when my husband and I will wave goodbye to our youngest and pack all of our belongings onto an RV and set out to live our own life. Or maybe it will be a yurt in the forest. That’s a long dream away… it has some time to develop.
Raising our boys in this day and age has been an ongoing battle of conscience. When we first got married and started on our family, monetary restraints kept us from purchasing the land that we wanted for our boys so desperately. So we settled into suburbia, where the jobs were plentiful and the rent cheap. Now, 12 years later, our boys are settled into their lives and the community, and it doesn’t seem to be in their best interest to leave the life that we’ve established here.
My dreams of country rough-and-tumble boys have moved aside for the reality of our tech-savvy genius bookworms. They don’t know how to make forts from wood they’ve cut themselves. They do know how to build forts on the computer with their physics and engineering games. Not quite as useful from a survival standpoint, but they are establishing the tools that will help them to survive in this new world of technology. I do rail against that a lot of the time, but not educating them in how our culture is beginning to work would be to put them at a disadvantage, knowing that they are who they are.
One of the hardest parts of parenting that I’ve experienced so far is reconciling the person that you want your child to be with the person that they really are, deep down inside.
See the disgruntled look in the middle there? That’s what we get for taking the technology away to view natural wonders. Yellowstone NP, 2012