So August happened. September happened. Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been “away” from the blog for sometime now. A bit of a break happened, too, I guess. And – yes – we are okay. Nothing is the matter.
In fact, I had a wonderful summer (didn’t even notice any “dog days” this August!) and – so far – have been having an amazing fall. There have been lots of changes happening in my life, starting with the immense changes in the lives of my kids. Lou Lou suddenly (almost melodramatically “suddenly”) grew into being four. She jumped ship, transitioning from being fulltime at home to being full day at JK, and with nary a hitch. She’s started wearing a bike helmet and zooming around the neighbourhood on the strider bike she so recently inherited from her brother, locking it to the school gate upon her arrival there every morning. Like her brother last year, she will soon swim away from me at the pool too.
She had a birthday, making “four” official. We celebrated that weekend with a huge open house in her honour.
Lou’s birthday had a “Scooby Doo and the Wiki Tiki” theme. I decorated the house right down to the grass-skirted buffet table, laden with trays of veggies, chip dips, and fruit in a bowl I carved from a watermelon (once again proving that no project is too silly when it comes to my kids). We grown ups enjoyed ourselves, drinking sangria punch and Hawaiian beer and noticing – after some time – that all the kids had disappeared. And it was… Way. Too. Quiet.
I soon discovered the whole lot of them upstairs in Lou Lou’s room – 7 or 8 children ages 2 through 6, flaked out everywhere and quietly watching Lou’s newest Scooby Doo movie together. Several were seated on the couch, while several more of them were sitting around on the floor, building with her new (birthday present) Lego sets. No fighting, just sharing. Hanging out. I felt proud to notice that the bigger children seemed to be watching over the littler ones as they toddled around, enjoying the mess. It wowed me to see them in disaster-free independence like that, shades (I hope!) of the future – my kids and their friends as teens. Already I sometimes feel like they don’t quite need us. Not as much, anyhow.
And – of course – that’s the crux of what I’m going through right now, isn’t it? Transitioning from being needed overwhelmingly all day (and sometimes all night!) long by two little people (and often by one demanding big person as well), to – quite suddenly, as it turns out – being off the hook completely from 9:10 till 3:35. As well as noticing that my two “little ones” are increasingly independent even when they are around.
Okay, the “witching hour” (2 or 3 hours between about 4:30 and 7:30 in fact) is still a bit of a painful stretch. I earn my keep in those hours. But still. I have alone time now. I can make the beds now. Unload the dishwasher now. I get to see some of those list items getting checked off every day. Going for a walk isn’t a problem. I no longer spend hours a day getting milks, wiping bums or doing puzzles with anyone.
So. What am I going to do with my life now, you may be asking? Surely I’ve gauged made beds and having a tidy countertop as less than worthy goals in life when there are mountains yet to climb and novels as yet unwritten. Or have I?
Turns out that being the mom of school-aged kids is still leaving me with a pretty full dance card. So far, at least. Six and a bit hours zoom by pretty quick by the time you unload the dishwasher, put away a load of loaundry, pick up some groceries, get dinner started, and maybe squeeze in a quick walk. Sure, it feels a bit less chaotic for a few hours each day, but – so far – there’s still lots to do.
And evenings are busy. Between afterschool playground time, getting them home and serving a snack and some milk (Lou is whiney and tired by then), and then finishing up dinner and getting it on the table (by now to full on howls from Lou Lou, who’s just realizing she’s exhausted and has an empty tank), it’s often after 7 by the time everyone’s managed to eat something and settle into “evening” mode. And by then I notice I’m feeling pretty tuckered myself. It’s hard to get that second wind started that sees me through getting the dishwasher loaded and going, tidying up (there’s always a few things that need hand washing plus everything needs a wipe down by then too), and packing the lunch bags for the following day.
By then it’s 8:30PM. I just remember I didn’t have a shower again today and feel cruddy. I take a quick bath and get my jammies on.
9:30 now. Oops. That’s pretty late. I order the kids into the bathroom and get them to clean their teeth (well, I brush Lou’s, actually, but Booba does his own, which is a blessing) and change into whatever they’re wearing to bed. Lou likes pj’s but sometimes my Tarzan prefers to sleep in his boxer briefs.
We all snuggle into Boo’s bottom bunk. After my busy day and warm bedtime bath I can barely keep my eyes open, but Boo is raring to go on his favourite routine of the day. It’s time to read.
We start with Go, Dog, Go. Booba reads. He’s in fine form tonight. He reads on, quickly sounding out words, then recapping at the end of each sentence, for 8 pages. When he’s tired from the effort, we smooth his green and gold Ottawa Gymnastics Centre participation ribbon against the page, shut the book, and place it on his night table.
“Now Treasure Island, Mumma,” he emplores. I open the Robert Louis Stevenson and pick up where I left off the night before.
“Get me some milk, Mumma..” Lou Lou whines.
“In a few minutes,” I say. “After I read this, okay?”
“Okay,” she answers softly. She turns on her side and puts her hands under her head. A minute later she’s sleeping.
I continue reading. Boo’s eyelids are getting heavy and his speech is slurred a bit as he says “Keep reading, Mom.” He is trying so hard to stay awake and listen. Fighting sleep.
A minute or two later he is breathing deeply. I put my bookmark – a pair of paper 3D glasses – in the pages and close the book. Silence. They’re both asleep.
I turn out the light and pull down my sleeping mask. I lie in bed and feel amazingly grateful and blessed, cuddling my two kids.
I entitled this update “Char Gar Gothakon: The Up-Date that Hath No Name” as a bit of a joke. Char Gar Gothakon: The Beast that Hath No Name was a Mystery Incorporated episode about a novelist whose monster comes to life. The episode and the novel shared the same title -a title I just loved. A running gag in this episode was “How can the beast have no name when you just named it in the title?” Understandably, the genius of the novel’s author (a professor at Darrow College) was a matter of some debate amongst his fans (and haters) at Crystal Cove’s local post secondary institution.
I started back to writing last week feeling like I didn’t know what to tell you about where I’m at with my life right now, where I stand in relation to where I stood when I started this blog way back in November 2012. Ergo, a blog up-date that hath no name. No topic. A real Char Gar Gothakon.
Life is calmer now, in some senses. It feels serene. Happy. Routines are good. They’re old enough for routines now. So, for me, there’s less urgency to spill my guts about everything I think and feel, less need to scream “I’m still here! I’m not just a cleaning lady or a milk-getting machine. And – by the way – don’t eye me like that when you catch any of us “having a moment” in the grocery store. I am not my kids and my kids aren’t me. Sometimes they’re going to act up or make mistakes. It doesn’t mean I’m not doing a great job as a mom, ’cause I am!!!“ Yeah – well – the urgency to say all that gets less (even though I just said it all – again) as your kids get a bit older and grow more independant. As they go off to school and new activities (no longer “Mommy and Me” ones) and begin to learn and grow and stand alone as separate little people.
This brave new world is a real Char Gar Gothakon to me. I don’t quite know what to expect of this new phase of my life yet. This week, depressingly, I have contractors here again – still messing up this house, keeping me from privacy or quiet, and even making it impossible to enjoy the smallest of my new little freedoms, like going out for an hour, child-free. They make me feel like I’m being bullied, hiding in a room with no right to do my own thing in my own house. But I will get through this and get on with the new things I am, slowly but surely, planning to add to my own life this year.
For one thing, I got myself an exciting new job (more about that later – I’ll save it for another post!). For another, I will continue (as always) to give some piano lessons. But I’m doing less of that – less piano – this year. I’m trying harder to be here for our evenings. Evening is SO important. Bedtime is so important.
I’m also seeing that the kids get to all their new “bigger kid” activities. Boo and Lou are continuing to swim this year, have replaced gymnastics with Ukrainian dancing – think Daddy was as excited as the kids about this one – and, on top of all that, I will be bringing Boo to Camerata Music once a week for his very own piano lesson with Auntie Laurie. At school, Boo continues to be a French Immersion student and has also expressed an interest in participating in the Primary Choir (now that he is a Mighty Grade One he is old enough to join). I’ll keep you posted as all these new things unfold.
And – of course – I’ll keep you posted too on how my newbie to the world of being four makes out with fullday kindergarten. ‘Cause that right there is the hugest change for us all. Lou has taken the first step on the road to being a full-on adult member of society some day. She’s added her little shoes to the pile that have to go somewhere! every day. She’s off to the races… School! Her first “real job” in life
And I’m so proud of her. So proud of us all. We made it here, wherever “here” is. Char Gar Gothakon. So far, so good.
All for now,