The quiet is almost deafening upstairs. Occasionally I hear soft stocking feet running down the hall, a giggle, or a door quietly shutting. But for nearly three hours it’s been silent.
If you are a mother of three, this could cause concern. The long quiet. Concern enough to go check on your children – are they free of blood, teeth intact, room not on fire, alive. But I never went up there. With three kids I expect at least one will be able to scream down for help in case the other two are dealing with blood or fire or broken teeth.
It’s our fifth day off school over a span of just two weeks. We’ve spent a lot of time together. A lot of time inside our home together. A lot of time not being able to safely play outside. A lot of time dragging out every toy, book, game, crayon, and snack we own.
And besides an hour in the morning as the zombies stare at the TV while they shovel in frozen waffles, or the hour at night when we catch-up on Dance Moms together or watch reruns of Sam And Cat – the TV is off, the iPad isn’t touched, and my computer is my computer.
The girls are brushing doll hair, putting on fashion shows, making pictures, having pretend picnics, and going through drawers of stuffed animals that haven’t been unearthed in years. Together.
And frankly some of the time I haven’t even known what they were doing because they were playing. Without me near. For hours. By themselves. Like children should do. Maybe they sat and listened to music and took turns being the lead in a band, or maybe they put on puppet shows, or maybe they told each other jokes. What they did is their own thing. That they created for themselves. In their rooms. And they only came down for dinner when I called them to set the table. And they came down together and laughing. No blood.
I finished my work. It’s one of my busiest weeks at work, and having them home from school weighed heavy on my shoulders and mind as I saw the temperatures plummet. But I had nothing to worry about, because kids have the ability to make their own fun. And play with each other.
I want to whisper this secret to my friends with all little ones at home – that things will get quiet for them one day. That one day their kids will just go play without them building that Lego tower with them(not that I don’t love to do that once in awhile), but when they do need a three hour block to get some work done – their kids can manage that for them..and just go play. Like we once did as kids.
Yet my kids are still all here in our house. We’re still sharing space together. Even though they aren’t tapping on my knee saying “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom…”
And even though my kids are a floor away and not asking me for anything – I am still mothering. In fact – I did that….I mothered enough so my kids know they can make their own fun and snacks and pick up their toys. I did that. I taught them boundaries and gave them a space to play. I let them know that sometimes mom needs to work and needs quiet, and to respect my time just like I respect a crazy amount of time with them. I taught them to be self-sufficient and to be happy even playing alone or with a sister for more than 10 minutes. I did this.
Watching your kids move away from you because they know how and can, is still mothering. Being a good mother did this. Being a good mother doesn’t have to be defined by how many games you played with them or how many plays you acted out. Being a good mother also means that they can go off for hours to create their own plays, but being there when they’re ready to perform.
Galit and I were chatting and having a glass of wine together. We sat close and laughed about many things as we talked…we really talked, and finished sentences. We were out together bowling with our families…TEN PEOPLE..and bowling in a LOUD bar. And yet we sat and drank wine and heard each other. We talked about writing and work and sure, kids.
And those SIX kids were just feet away from us, but they were bowling and talking and laughing and playing all by themselves. They never came to talk to us or ask for anything. They managed their own food and drinks. They took their turns and kept their own scores and just did what kids do.
We’ve done it. We’ve reached this sweet spot in mothering. Where the kids are old enough to do so much(nearly everything) on their own, and you can do things you enjoy parallel to them(like talking with a dear friend) – because they are still there. There – feet or a floor from you – but still with you. This sweet age when they can do for themselves yet they are still with you and not away with friends.
Dear friends – this is such a sweet time right now. I cherish this moment of motherhood before it flees too. Like all of the moments mothering do. Mothering has its beautiful and hard moments – the moments you miss and the one you don’t once they are gone – but I’m holding this now of motherhood tight.
This moment where my kids are here. But just not right here all of the time.
This was written as a Happy Mama Moment. A group of 12 moms have formed a Happy Mother Movement for 2014. Each month you can join us and link up with your Happy Mama Moment, inspired by Dude Mom.