When I eat a piece of chocolate, even one of those small ones that comes in a box of 20, I make it last. I take small bites, letting every piece melt in my mouth. David tends to take huge mouthfuls. He actually says he enjoys it more when there’s a bigger bite to chew. He’ll eat the whole chocolate in one quick bite as I break mine into happy little pieces.
I want life in small bites too. I remember complaining to my sister once that the difficulty with our life during boarding school and then beyond was that we either had no family time or only family time, nothing in between. Months where we couldn’t even call to check in or get advice in a crisis, then three weeks at Christmas with zero interactions outside our family. I called it family concentrate, like everyone else got to mix water with their frozen orange juice for a pleasant beverage and ours came undiluted.
As I picked up toys in a permanently messy play room just now, I thought about how being a mom feels like this too. I was thinking about my Mom, who would probably love to visit her fullest day 25 years ago when all four of hers were still just kids. How missing those days might even make her cry, and how living mine right now makes me want to cry (not all the time–don’t worry–just in the overwhelming moments). I have what feels like a permanent assignment in kid-ville, all sugary cereal and Veggie Tales and people who either don’t know how to pee in the toilet or purposely aim at the floor. All day every day. It’s feast or famine, this life.
And I want it bite-sized. This is what makes me feel crazy. I love my kids, love being a mom, only I wish I could have the fun size (that’s why they call it that, right?). Like, 8 hours a day of tiny people who do virtually nothing on their own except create chaos, then the other 8 waking hours to do “me” things–write, keep the kitchen clean, have long conversations with my husbands about things other than the kids, catch up with friends on the phone. (I think they call that situation daycare?)
But the strange thing is, I choose this.
Over and over, when we look at our life and try to figure out what’s best for now, I keep choosing this. Because the choice is either my regular order of chaos with kids, which I will miss desperately in 25 years, or letting other people take on the mess, where I’ll miss them in the here and now.
I’m not writing this to offer any of us any solutions. I don’t have one. I’m just filing my days under a heading so they make more sense to me. I choose this, it’s chaos, and I feel like I’ve gotten stupider. But I choose this, because it’s also my one glorious moment to be mom to these small, irrational, beautiful babies. There’s only one form these things come in, and it’s concentrate. So I’m swallowing this sticky-sweet frozen stuff straight from the can, hoping to savor as much as I can.