Friday, May 18, 2012

pangs

Not sure why all of a sudden.  Can't put my finger on when this started or what brought it on.  Out of the blue I find myself seriously missing the time when my kids were little. 

Because we were a homeschooling family, we had time together.  Lots of time.  So much time to explore and learn and just be.  During his high school years, Number One Son took a Great Books tutorial on-line.  The instructor encouraged the kids to take as much time as they could to do other things while thinking about the books they read.  He considered having that kind of time extremely important in everyone's lives.  He called it time to "Hmmmmm . . . "  I didn't realize it back then, but "Hmmmm . . . " time was one of the greatest gifts I have ever given my kids. 

When the older two were grade school age and my youngest was a toddler, we lived in a quiet community with forest all around us and a splendid beach just down the half paved lane from our house.  We took walks in the first warm rains of fall.  In nice weather we sat out on the big wraparound deck and read or else we would go out at dusk and watch the bats flitting around eating mosquitoes. 

We spent all day, every day at the beach during spring and summer.  Such a beautiful flat, sandy beach--the tide would go out almost an eighth of a mile.  We played in tide pools with tiny fish and crabs.  We waded and swam and the kids built all manner of sand structures.  We watched birds and took plaster casts of their footprints.  We took backpacks with sandwiches and apples and tried not to let the food get sandy while we ate.  We walked around our neighborhood and down to the tiny store that was the community hangout.

Coming home late in the afternoon, the kids would continue to play outside while I sat in our sunny living room reading and watching the birds at the feeders.  The kids climbed trees and built forts and picked the "hats" off the blooming poppies.  We also had slug patrol at sundown, salting the heck out of those garden ruiners.

I admit, there were many, many nights when we had mac n' cheese or pizza or chili dogs for dinner because I did not have it in me to cook after spending all day playing and reading and generally enjoying just being.  At the time I felt deep guilt for not being more structured about school and for not devoting a whole lot more time to housekeeping.  But if I had it to do over again, I'd do it all just like I did the first time.

My daughter's life is uncontrollably busy with the demands of her youngest child's disability.  My youngest son's time is also suddenly very taken up with doing yard work for other folks and school and sports activities.  My own life has wound up to a speed that I'm unaccustomed to.  And I miss that blissful, innocent time with my kids.  I wish so very, very much that my girl could have those long, sun soaked days with her own kids and that they could all "Hmmmmm . . . " together. 

Even back then I understood that not everybody had the kind of life I had and I was privileged to have those days.  I did appreciate it.  I knew it was special.  I knew it wouldn't last forever. 

What would I give to go back and relive one of those afternoons when my boys spent hours engineering perfect sand garrisons and my little girl wore sundresses and danced on tiptoe at the edge of the incoming tide?