Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Silence Like a Cancer Grows

I'm sitting on the couch downstairs.  The only sounds I hear are the water falling from the filter in the fish tank and the slight growl of the dishwasher running through yet another cycle because dishes, like laundry, are a never-ending task.  Oh, wait, there's the air conditioner popping on.

The children are home.  They're just upstairs.

When we bought this house just over a year ago, I was thrilled that it had a game room.  The game room is upstairs with the kids' bedrooms and their bathroom, and I had visions of the kids playing happily upstairs where I could hear them but not have to feel like I needed to monitor their every movement like I did when we only had one living area and we were always, always in the same room together.  I loved the idea of breathing space.

I got my wish.  And it's bittersweet.  I love that the kids can go upstairs and disappear.  Right now Boo is in her room reading some library books, and Doodlebug is parked in front of the Wii getting his daily electronics fix.  They're content.  They're doing what they want to do.  Mostly, though, they're quiet.

The quiet is interesting.  It reminds me that the kids aren't little any more and that I don't have to worry about what they're up to every second of the day (remember when silence was evil?  It's still not entirely innocent, but it's more innocent now than when they were younger).  It reminds me that in a few years, there will be jobs and/or volunteer positions and more independent school work and that my place in their lives will diminish considerably, especially if and when there are driver's licenses and cars involved.

I feel like I'm smack-dab in the middle of an in-between phase, just like my son, who is hovering in between childhood and adolescence.  On the one hand, I'm needed.  They need me to remind them what chores to do and when and tell them when it's time for dinner and drive them to events. They want me to "Come see this!" and "Help me?" do that.  On the other hand, they don't need me as much any more.  They can figure out their likes and dislikes (though this is a major problem for Boo, and that'll need its own post soon) and what they do and don't want to do each day without any help from me.  They can clean their own rooms (heck, they can clean the whole house if necessary) and fix breakfasts and lunches and make sure they have all their gear for swim/violin/yoga before we leave.

They aren't old enough to be left home alone for any length of time - sometime in the next year, I'll probably start running short errands, but I want to make sure they're both old enough and mature enough for that before I take off - but at the same time, I don't often see them unless they either want food or have a project they need help with or are arguing and want my intercession.

And so I sit.  I wait until I'm wanted or needed.  I don't like that.  Raising my kids 'right' is an admirable goal, but I wish I had another purpose.  There's only so much sitting around reading library books one mom can do before she loses her mind.  Same goes for baking.  I can't do that all day, every day.  I need to be accessible, but I want to be busy to some purpose.  It's an interesting dichotomy, and I'm not sure how to fill both my needs and the needs of my kids at the same time.

When we're doing school, it's not so bad.  I think this week off is affecting me.  Still, there will be plenty more weeks off in the days to come, and we still have the afternoons to consider.  Thoughts?


Anonymous said...

I feel that way too! I completely understand where you're coming from. It's the same way with my son. Of course, my daughter is a need machine... Heh.

But before her, when it was just my son, I was glad I could focus on writing or genealogy.

Like you said, it's bittersweet. I'm glad I have a vocation and an avocation to embrace, but it's hard seeing the kiddos grow out of needing mom. :)

Beth said...

They need you - just not the same *way*. Who is going to glue their broken hearts back together, build their egos when they get crushed, and wipe the tears of humiliation? Who is going to cheer them up, be the first to be told about an excitement, or console them about a crush who doesn't like them back? You may not need to wipe they nasty off their rumps - but you will be needed more than ever. And I suspect with this crew the drama may be spectacular. Enjoy the quiet calm while you can. :P

Sarah said...

OK, Beth, that got me. You're totally right. I had to deal with all that stuff on my own, so I have no perspective there. I don't even think about all the times it would have been REALLY NICE to have had a parent to confide in. Thanks.