Photo: Three out of four walls of my farmhouse are not insulated. Can you believe it? 100 years of no insulation…I don’t know how these folk did it! That is the inside of the south-facing wall of my little home. You can see it because contractors took up the clapboards of the outside of the house, drilled holes into the walls and blew cellulose into them. That fuzzy stuff on the inside of the hole? The plaster of the internal wall of my living room. Crazy, huh? No wonder we had to fill up the oil tank every single month last winter! Not this year!
Even though I was in a funky headspace this week, I was still on the mom-grind. There were emails to be sent and playdates to set up. Playdates, I’m learning, can be a pretty intricate dance, and I’m so glad that I’ve got some good Southern training in the arts of hosting and being hosted. It was my turn to reach out, my turn to invite, and when we couldn’t quite schedule a time at my place, it was my responsibility to rearrange things here so that Ursa Major could play, again, over there. In the email exchange, there was a little line that caught my attention and, at first, made me laugh: “5 weeks until school starts. What am I gonna do!?”
5 weeks until school.
Lordy. 5 weeks until school.
The mother-of-two in me was pretty miserable about that line. What am I supposed to do with these little punks for another 5 weeks? To see it so simply written makes it feel like it’s a whole ‘nother summer or something! But something else came to mind, too. Ursa Major has 5 more weeks of summer. Ursa Minor has 6. He will start his own school journey a week after his brother, and I will start having 4 hours of week to myself without babies.
It’s a small thing. So small. But it’s such a big thing. It’s colossal, actually.
You see, the only place where Ursa Minor really ever wants to be is my lap. A great source of joy is a kiss on the cheek. He still smells like a baby, and he’s warm and amazing when he’s snuggled up against me… and that little voice in my ear, asking me for this or that? It’s special. It’s heaven. It’s something that I didn’t get with his older brother. Ursa Minor has been my baby, the child who has always been content so long as I am near. He is mine, created for me, and I have relished every moment that I’ve had with him… even the frustrating ones. That child is mine. He has his father’s looks, he has his father’s brains, but that child is still 100% mine
But in 6 weeks, that exclusivity will be over. He’ll begin to belong to other people.
He’ll become someone’s best friend. Someone’s favorite student. He’ll become the child that someone hopes to have over for playdates. He’ll become someone’s role-model, and someone’s example. He’ll become someone’ s classmate and someone’s partner in mischief, someone’s co-conspirator in mystery and mayhem. He will belong to the world.
Ursa Major belonged to the world as soon as he could walk. He loves me, but he’s of me and not for me, and he is all of the things listed above already after a year of school. Ursa Major’s readiness for school was such a source of pride for me: Look at me, I told myself, I’m doing alright. That is a child who is ready for school.
Ursa Minor is similar in many ways. He’s a child who speaks in full thoughts and sentences. He knows his ABCs backwards and forwards, he can count to 20, he can tell you his shapes, he knows what “yellow light” means, he has a favorite color, and he is full of questions. He is a source of pride for me: Look at me. I’m doing alright. This is a child who is ready or school.
But I don’t want to let him go. Because when he does, motherhood as I know it will irreversibly change. I’ll have no more “babies” at home. I’ll have school-aged children. I’ll have school-mama concerns.
I know that I should never say never, and nothing is set in stone, but I very seriously doubt that my husband and I will be having any more children. We’ve got just enough resources to see to it that the four of us live well and relatively comfortably. We will be able to provide our sons everything that they need and a little bit of what they want from time to time. That’s what any reasonable couple should expect, right? Adding a third… invites complications.
And having another one only delays inevitable. This portion of motherhood must end. This portion of motherhood must end.
6 weeks from now, I’ll drop both of my boys off at school and walk away, and it will be glorious. Glorious! It doesn’t matter if the sun is shining brightly or if a miserable cold rain is falling. I’ll walk away with my keys and my purse, and for two hours, I’ll be my own woman. I already plan on walking over to the little breakfast joint around the corner, where I will order coffee and eggs benedict, I will break out my moleskine and I will write something. Knowing myself, it will likely be a task list.
And motherhood will change. For the better. Or, at least, for the different. Always for the different.
There is the slightest hint of Autumn in the Massachusetts air this morning, dear reader. And I’ll tell you a secret: I see some of my early-warning trees responding. It is a nuanced hint, very small changes, but they are there. It is happening. Summer visits for such a short time. So my wish for you is to cleave to the warmth, the sunshine, and the illusion of endless days for as long as you can. Dwell not on that refreshing chill in the nighttime, indulge not in your craving for extra cinnamon or clove in something, think not of those new boots being put on display in the windows. Cleave, dear reader, to this short, short season. In that spirit, I wish you pink lemonade and one last good strawberry shortcake this weekend. I wish you the opportunity to jump into a river, lake, or even the ocean and have some fun. I wish you good music played outdoors somewhere, the smell of earth and harvest at a local farmer’s market. I wish you the tug of a child’s hand, pulling you toward curiosity and adventure. And joy, and love, and the understanding that you are wonderful and loved.
Until Monday, take care.