Sevens

I was gone for seven weeks. 

Correction: I came back on the first day of my seventh week away from my whole entire life. 

It's been so long since I've written anything here, and so much has happened in that expanse of time, that I can't even remember what's already been said. I suppose I could go read my own archives, but that somehow feels like cheating. On myself. With myself. There's a vibrator joke in here somewhere.

I was gone for seven weeks. So much has happened in that time.

My oldest son's voice dropped while I was gone. I called one day and had no idea who was on the phone. I wasn't even sure it was a *human*. That boy is going to make some choir director's baritone dreams come true. He also got his schedule for high school while I was gone. After 14 years of parenting, I have now officially missed a milestone. I can't believe how awful that feels.

My youngest child, my daughter, she kept her squeak but refined it. Like the baby fat that sheds itself overnight, the roundness of her words molted away and was replaced with sharp angles, strong bones, and complex adjectives. I came back to a girl-child, a woman-in-progress, someone who spent the summer learning, for the first time, how to be feminine from someone other than me. Now I condition her hair all wrong, but she'll still gives me butterfly kisses in the early hours of the morning when no one else is looking. I'll take it. 

My middle son is the most eerily inconsistently consistent human being I have ever met. Nothing about him has changed in the slightest. It is amazingly comforting to come back to one familiar thing. 

I left Phoenix with a 10X15 storage locker and the hope that everything would work itself out...and not much more. I had to go; I had to go for my job, I had to go for my sanity, I had to go for him and his family to start finding their own way through this together. I had to go, and I went, and I had no clue what was going to happen once I was on the other side of more flips of a calendar than I'd ever relinquished control of my family to before. 

Relinquishing control is not my strong suit. Josh and I got into a massive fight in, oh, week two because he and his sister were being such control freaks and undoing each and every one of the many meticulous plans I'd so carefully laid out, all pressed and starched, on the edges of the beds for the time I would be gone. Because I'm not a total hypocrite, oh no

Turns out, letting go is a lot easier when you're in free fall and there is nothing to latch on to. 

This summer was a long, slow, drawn out, slow-motion leap of faith. It wasn't even a leap so much as a leaning over the edge until I had no choice but to fall. It was terrible and frightening to be gone for so long, and I am so glad that I was. I think I had to be. I think I had to let everything settle down the way it wanted to, not the way I wanted to orchestrate it to.

I think I had to let the kids father spend the summer with him in his own way - not the way I would want, expect, or even tolerate, honestly, had I been within a 10 hours drive of them, but it wasn't my summer with them so really, it isn't my place to dictate how it went.

They lived.

They're happy as shit to be home.

The end.

I think I had to be very, very humbled by the love and support that I sometimes forget I have in my corner of the ring. My kids' godfather and his brand new wife and their brand new baby basically gave me a home when literally did not have one, some company, some perspective, and the best homemade ice cream you will ever put into your body. My best friend talked me off a lot of ledges, and watched over me even when I wasn't sure I wanted to be watched over.  My old, old buddy (who *gasp* doesn't have anything to do with teh internetz and is therefore unlinkable) fed me some wine when I needed it, played me ridiculously loud rock and roll in the parking lot, just like we used to do a million years ago, and reminded me of who I used ot be before I tripped and fell into this damn hole again. 

I think I had to be ready to let everything change, and I think I was gone just long enough that everything did exactly that. 

And now we have this home - a house that I took sight me-unseen (the kids and their dad came to check it out, and the kids said, "uhunno, i guess it'll do, grunt", and that, like cookie, was good enough for me). We still haven't met our neighbors (though I've met their unsecured wifi signal, howdy) (don't you judge me) and my garage still looks like this:

But my living room, MY living room, myveryownlivingroom without a drunk guy on the couch sucking all the energy out of it, looks like this:

And my daughter's room looks like this:

And my sons' room looks like this: 

And that is, of course, blackmail for later, when they are really being a-holes and also have girlfriends. Have blog and iPhone; am not afraid to use them. 

(Also, judge not the dorm room. They had loft beds which clearly will not fit. Ikea run for twin frames forthcoming. Until then, that room is merely a crystal ball of their almost-immediate future, with less ramen and porn.)

I am not showing you my room. Last night, my son told me to flipping clean it up already, mawm, jeez. When a 14 year old is disgusted with the way you're living, it's time to reassess. 

But really, what matters to me most right now isn't the way the couches I got for $125 on Craiglist while I was gone (score) perfectly fit this space I accidentally ended up in, or the way the sun rises through the blinds in my windows and makes everything look sparkly and full of promise every single day now that I'm back, it's that under this roof, there are three smiles. Three real, relaxed, not contrived, not manic, not hiding anything behind them smiles. 

I was gone for seven weeks. That's why. And now I get to start on forever, finally.

Velocity

When I fell pregnant with 3of3, my last middle child was half-way through pre-K. I was researching schools I'd like to attend, thinking about what I was going to do with the last little bit of my *gulp* twenties, laying plans for the rest of my life. 

I remember walking him up to his first day of kindergarten, eight months pregnant with a future Teller alum, and thinking it was a good thing I loved that school so much, because I was going to be spending the next motherfucking decade of my life there. 

The day that wiggly belly would be almost six, wearing a backpack, reading and writing and being gone for hours a day every day seemed unfathomably far into the future. Except it wasn't at all. Except is was just like *that* and I can't believe it happened so fast. 

Oi vey!

I can't believe that I forgot the air-speed velocity of an unladen child, how fast it goes, they go. This thing, this life I was biding my time, waiting to start living, happened all around me when i wasn't looking and now here I am in that same spot I was forever ago, with my last one off in pursuit of her own self, but this time, I know exactly what I want when I grow up.

Mostly it's to be bold and fearless, just like them.

There's more on this at Cucumbersome today. Oh, I should probably mention I have this other blog, and it's called Cucumbersome, and it's part of the Babble Voices group. I hope it doesn't suck. 

Peter Pan

When my boys were little, I could get them to do just about anything, so long as it meant they'd get to grow up because of it. "Momma, why do I have to take a baff?" So your skin can be clean and stretchy for it to grow, of course. "Momma, do I have to eat dis broccowee?" Only if you want your muscles to be strong so you can grow up big and tall, silly boy. "Momma, I don't want to sweep!" Well, if you don't sleep, your body can't grow. Little boys can only grow while they sleep. You want to grow, right? All they wanted to do was grow-grow-grow. They wanted to be big like their daddy, like each other. They wanted to do big boy things like play video games and go to school and ride bikes outside.

Not so much with my daughter.

I so much as mention growing up and the waterworks begin. "I don't want to gwow up, Momma! I want to stay wittowl forever!" she cries. And it's not just pissy little defiant four year old tears, either. The kid is flat out afraid of growing up. I have no idea where this comes from.

I've tried to rationalize this with her. I've pointed out that she's already a big girl; she pees on the potty and she rides a bike and puts on her own shoes and eats ice cream cones. Babies don't do those things. She drinks milk from a cup, not boobies. She has a big girl bed, not a crib. She writes her name and plays on the computer. She's already big, I tell her, and she just cries and cries and tells me no, she won't grow up. She's going to stay wittowl.  She can't grow up.

Now I know where Peter Pan came from.

I've kind of given up on the whole thing and just accepted that I'm going to have to resort to "Show momma how the piggies eat" to get her to eat her vegetables, or worse, the "Pull it out of her belly-button" game which is really fun when they eat mini-marshmallows but not at all fun when they eat mashed potatoes. The fact of the matter is that this is the last kid I get, and I wouldn't mind it in the least if she stayed little. She got big way too fast as it is, really.

Except that she really wants to go to school. Except that I really want her to go to school. Except that my husband would like to see his floor and my boss would like to see that report and I need her to be elsewhere if I'm going to get those things done.

Last time we tried school, she was two and not at all ready and cried from drop off to pick up every time we left her there. We ended up pulling her out because I just didn't feel like paying someone to make my kid cry. We haven't tried since, but Tuesday is supposed to be her first day at pre-school here. And she's very excited. She asks me all the time what she'll be doing and brags that she's going to have a teacher and homework, just like the guys. She tells me that she won't cry at school this time, which, holy memory Batman, and I say to her that of course she won't, because she's a big girl now, and I hold my breath.

And she looks at me with those big, green eyes that are starting to well up with tears, and she thinks. She thinks really hard and says, "No momma, I'm a big BOY now. I'm your son. Big son-boys go to school." And I think I have a really clever little girl.