There was a time when I joked that I was just waiting for all my children to be old enough to put on their own shoes and use the bathroom by themselves. I am almost there and it is far less appealing than I thought it would be. It is not so much a matter of not liking who they are becoming or not wanting the additional freedom but more or less the rapid onset of the awareness that these days are passing. A much wiser older mother than me once warned me that when our children are born in rapid fire succession, they leave in the same way.
I can see the dominoes starting to fall. It is more than a bit sobering. In a way it is like summer here. These days are hot (for here) and busy and it seems like I am just keeping my head above water with all the preparations for winter. I always remember that winter is coming but I need to remember that summer is here, now. I need to make sure we take some opportunities to enjoy these rare and fleeting days.
We took all the kids to the beach by the farmhouse the night before last. On the Keweenaw, August is getting colder. The water is not really swim temperatures and usually only the children of the locals get into the water. When the water is 60F or less, it is physically painful to go in, at least at first. I watched my kids go in, even the ones who are older are really remember Colorado. The younger ones just take this cold water as a given. I decided that I live here now, and this is the only summer that I will get, and that there are an average of 200 days between 70F days here, so I best just get in it. So I did. I went into the frigid water with my children. It was so hard but in the end I enjoyed and the kids were both surprised and thrilled.
Afterwards, as I was gathering together the kids and their piles of things that they take to the beach, a woman passed by my blanket. Claudia lured her in by my pointing at me and telling her that I was Mama. She stopped and visited for a few minutes. We chatted about my kids coming out of the lake and silly, casual things like her polka dot swim dress. While looking out at my screaming and splashing kids, she said to me, "You will have grandchildren." It was more of a statement of fact than anything else. I always get uncomfortable when people start commenting on my family size so I put on my best saccharine smile and steeled myself.
"I hope so!" I chirped cheerfully.
She turned to me said, "I don't. I only had one child so it's my own fault. But you, you will have grandchildren."
We wished each other goodnight (it was ten in the evening) and we left the beach before it got dark. I married very young and I was hassled a great deal about giving up so many opportunities and not living life to the fullest before I settled down, but I think what they really believed is that I was just settling. I was giving up. This woman in a gentle and unintentional way was reminding me that I never settled, I ran headlong into life.
..and I am still running.