My daughter’s school district is off today for Lunar New Year (the fuck?!). It wasn’t even on my radar and thank god my daughter didn’t turn in her homework on Friday, and someone who works at aftercare heard me tell her it was okay, we’d turn it in on Monday, because that prompted her to make sure I remembered there wasn’t any school on Monday, of which I was totally clueless. So I spent Sunday at work getting ready for a sub, and I spent today at home hanging out with my daughter.
It was a lovely day. I did a project around the house that I’ve been wanting to tackle, we went to Cost.co and TJs, we watched Shrek, and I worked out while she played around on the iPad. She painted my face. We just hung out. It’s unseasonably warm here right now (I won’t insult any of you by writing an actual temperature–you would hate me) so we’re going to pick up my son early and hit up a playground before we come home.
If my daughter is given a choice she stays home with her father and doesn’t run errands with me, so usually it’s my son and I who go. He is pretty easy going in a shopping cart, especially if I give him my phone when he starts to get antsy. Still, I don’t think I realized what a pleasure it is to hang out with my daughter while grocery shopping. She’s at the age where she can have actual conversations that engage me. We tell jokes, we whisper silly things to each other, we laugh really hard in the frozen food isle. I actually had more fun running errands with her than I would have going by myself. The thought is kind of unheard of for me.
And it got me thinking, how easy my life would be if we hadn’t had a second child, how simple and manageable it would be. Of course I don’t regret having another kid, but I don’t think I recognized before what life would be like if we weren’t working through the big feelings and minimal self control that comes with being two year old, if we weren’t refereeing sibling disputes while trying to prepare a dinner that both kids will eat.
I’m also seeing what life might be like, at least for brief periods, in three years, when my son is five and my daughter is almost nine. Life is going to be easier. I’m sure of it now. I can tell we’re coming up on the side of the bell curve, crawling out of the really difficult years. The dust is settling, the air is clearer, I can almost see the fresh, cool breezes at the cusp of this hole, this crater left by the detonation that is early parenting.
My daughter has been listening to the entire Ramona Quimby Audiobook Collection. It contains every book in the series. She’s on the last one: Ramona’s World. In this final installment, Ramona is nine and her sister Beezus is in high school. And, to my great surprise, they have a new baby sister named Roberta. I must not have read this book, because I don’t remember Ramona ever having a baby sister. I missed the end of the last book (Ramona Forever), so I’m not sure if there was any talk about the arrival of the baby sister, but I can’t help but wonder what the ever loving f*ck her parents were thinking having another baby, just when parenting was getting easier (in one sense, I know parenting a high schooler and middle schooler is hard in other ways–which is another reason not to also have baby/toddler problems to the mix!)
I get that this is a book series, and I shouldn’t rack my brains over the choices of fictional parents, but I follow the blog of a family who is doing the exact same thing: the younger of the two kids is ten and they just had a baby. At my school, the families of two of my students whose youngest are 13 (in 8th grade) just had babies. I can’t help but wonder, why?!
And I know there are a lot of reasons: the parents of a new blended family want to have children together, and the children from their first marriage are a lot older; secondary infertility hits, tearing a cavernous gap between siblings; your kids get older and you think, I want to do it all again; shit happens and you make do. I get it. But man, I can’t imagine getting to that stage in life, with kids about to enter high school, and starting all over again.
I wonder sometimes, if I’m the only parent who is counting the days until it gets easier. Sometimes it feels that way. Today I got a little taste of what it might be like, and it was grand. It was what I always expected parenting would be. Maybe this season in my life as a parent is not the one I’m particularly good at. I always thought I loved young children, but maybe 0-5 is not the age group with which I excel.