If you have read anything I have ever written before then you know that I have eleven children. If you have never read anything I have written before, then you know that now. Our oldest just graduated college and moved back to my home of Colorado. He is living with my mother and starting his grownup life. So there are only ten children at home. I know, ten is still a lot. But then just about two weeks ago, I said goodbye to the next three down in age and my husband drove them to Jordanville for three weeks. This morning, two more left for two weeks at Russian camp down in Illinois. I am down to just the youngest five little girls who are between three and ten years old. Normally people would think this is a lot of children but it feels so quiet! Probably because all five boys are gone. Strike that. They are screaming downstairs. While I am writing they are playing and there is some disagreement about whether they are orphans, mermaids, or orphan-mermaids.
I have never had so much time alone with so many little girls. When I first started having children, the boys came first. There was a lot more rough and tumble and Legos and buckets of plastic green soldiers. This is a whole new game. It is one filled with mermaids, orphans, dolls, and plans for formal teas with hats. It is the Apostles Fast still (for us, because old calendar, y'all) so I will be busting out my best vegan baking. Aquafaba for the win. It is a funny thing. I had wondered what it would be like when it was just girls at home and now, here it is.
I am not sure what to think about it. I have some book outlining to do and some filming for my videos series which means editing for my series. Gah. I hate editing. I hate looking at my face for that long. And listening to my voice. The work will get done because I have been steady at this rodeo for a long time. I know how to juggle all this bidness and kids. At least for two days it will be me and the littles and the farm which is more work than the writing and filming and editing. Cows and lambs and ducks (the ducklings are dwindling in number because of predator birds and it is killing my son) and that is much more work but Ben got the mowing done before he left. But what it weighing on me is what is not weighing on me.
Little girls don't each much and they go to bed early. They don't read complicated books or drive cars. So many of my children are growing up and they will leave the nest as quickly as they all piled into it. I am not sure that I am ready for all of that. There are fewer kids to read to and play with and cuddle with on the sofa with a blanket and a movie. The fact that there are very few kids (relatively, I know) to cook for will take some getting used to. I made half the oatmeal with cranberries that I would usually make and it was twice as much as I needed. This little taste of how much less there is to do is a stark reminder of how much my children have grown. Someday, not too far from now, there will be no one at home.
I wish that I had not rushed my oldest children. I wish I had not worried so much about the things they were not doing yet. I should have reveled in their need for me, even when I was exhausted, because those years are shorter than I could have possibly imagined. I know this this weekend and even into next week, I will feel strained. I know I will probably lose my temper. I think I should print out that photo of all the kids together and put it somewhere to remind me that this is an opportunity that I can't let go by. I need to remember that the time is short for when my children need me, want me, and call out for me in the night. Maybe as much as I dreaded sending all the older children off all over the country, it is a good thing, because it makes me think. All the feels. Not much time.