January 12, 2007
I've always thought that in many ways, pregnancy is the easiest stage of parenting. You don't have to worry where your child is or who she is with or who will be driving or whether or not there will be drinking. She's safely tucked inside your body, where you can feel her every kick, her every move. Sure, there are disadvantages to parenting a child you can't see yet, including the way she might kick at your bladder or keep you awake at night with acrobatics, but there is also that wonderful security of having her safe inside of you at all times. Once that baby is born, well, she grows quickly. Parenting is just a series of letting go, of allowing your child to grow up and become that independent, confident adult that, deep down, you want her to be.
I've enjoyed having my college kids home for the last month. Even in the early morning, when the house is quiet and I am just downstairs working on my computer, I love knowing that all my kids are safely sleeping here at home. Of course, even in their sleep, teenagers can be annoying: I was startled the first morning I was home to hear a deep voice coming out of the bedroom saying, repeatedly, "Boy in Black, wake the fuck up!" When I finally went into the room, wondering why Boy in Black had this need to talk to himself in an obnoxiously loud voice, I saw that he was sound asleep. What I was hearing was the message he'd put on his cell phone alarm. He sets his cell phone alarm to go off every ten minutes and then he ignores it for hours and hours every morning. After that first morning, he did change the message to some kind of ringtone, which was only slightly less obnoxious.
For the last two years, while my daughter has been at college, With-a-Why has been sleeping in my daughter's bed instead of the boys' room: he goes to bed earlier than his brothers and her bedroom gives us a quiet place for putting him to bed. So when my daughter is ready for bed, she has to move him over and make room for herself. He is growing fast, so the bed is beginning to get crowded, and soon enough, he'll be a teenager staying up late in the boys' room. But right now, for just a brief time longer, he is still a little boy who can snuggle with his big sister.
When my kids were little, I used to sometimes wake up during the night and check on them. It's amazing how a few hours of sleep can erase the memory of a terrible meltdown or an annoying squabble or the obnoxious repetition of a child singing a Disney tune loudly. In the moonlight, with their eyes closed, the long black lashes draped against pale skin, my kids always seemed at their most lovable.
I can remember the months after September 11, 2001, when none of us could erase the image of the Twin Towers imploding, again and again. My kids slept together in one room, huddled together for safety like a litter of kittens, clinging to one another in that time of horrible nightmares and daytime anxiety.
Now that the kids are older, they often go to sleep later than me. It's morning, with sun pouring in the east windows, when I walk around to check on them. Often bodies are strewn all over the boys' room (or on weekends, down in the living room). My kids and extras are kind of casual about where they sleep; each kid just grabs a blanket and pillow and rolls up on the floor. I have to peer at the hair to figure out which kid is which. Blonde Niece is the easiest to identify because she's got all that blonde hair.
This morning was the last morning of break, my last quiet morning to work in a house with all my sleeping children safely gathered around me. We've got a busy weekend, and then my Wonderful Beautiful Daughter flies to Big European City with a Famous Bridge. Boy in Black and his friends return to college. It will be May before I have all my children gathered safely in this house again.
Posted by jo(e)