I have a growing sense of urgency about the time I have with my children. I find myself pushing back deadlines so we can watch our favorite shows together, taking on fewer projects so we can read together and saying no to requests from others just so we can hang out together.
Don’t misunderstand, we have our own interests. I have a job, I write, I have friends. They have activities, friends and interests that don’t include me. But in the midst of our busy lives time spent simply being with my kids; not schooling them, helping them, raising them or teaching them, just being with them, sharing the things we love, is precious to me right now. From the outside looking in it may looks irresponsible. Monday evening I got home from work later than usual but instead of launching right into a work project or making dinner I sat down with K to watch the episode of Once Upon a Time that had been on the DVR for too long. And then after dinner was made I still pushed off that work project so J and I could read a chapter of Harry Potter (and those chapters are LOOONG- it takes us nearly an hour to read one aloud). I still need to finish that work related project. But it will get finished, perhaps with a little less wiggle room than I generally like but I’m okay with that because the clock for their time in our house is ticking louder than the one for that project.
I know that we still have a few years. I also know that when they leave they will still visit. But recently I realized that some day I won’t be the most important person in their lives anymore. It happened at Christmas. My brother and his new girlfriend were starting to get serious. We’d met several times and I really like her a lot, especially because she seems to make him happy (and it doesn’t hurt that she loves The Doctor 😉 ). But there was a moment when we were in the living room and they were having their own conversation, I was sitting next to R talking to him, the kids were watching TV and our parents were in the next room. Our entire family was there but it struck me in that moment that we were no longer one family. I have my own family and C is beginning to have his own family. We both still love our parents, we see or talk to them almost daily. But they are no longer the people at the center of our lives. Seeing C with his girlfriend really brought that home. I’ve always teased him about being a “mama’s boy” but here he was, a man with a new woman in his life.
Since that night I’ve remembered that moment often; when K reaches over to hold my hand while we’re walking together or J looks to me to see if I got a subtle joke while we were watching something geeky on TV I think about that moment. I know that someday she’ll want to hold someone else’s hand and he’ll look to someone else to share these funny moments with. And that’s as it should be, it’s the natural order of things. My relationship with R is the best thing in my life and I want that for my kids someday. But in the meantime, while they are still here and I am still the person at the center of their already full lives, I will choose “wasting” time with them over being “productive” for myself every chance I get.