My two oldest daughters have been gone for 12 nights now. That’s almost two weeks sans 2/5ths of my family. I no like it.
But I only haven’t liked it for the past three days. With three active girls under 6, the first week of relative silence was lovely. Since Maëlle sleeps in til 9, I found Saturday morning to be a joyously lazy time. I flopped around in bed, loving the peace & shushing the dog, only rolling out from under the covers at the first urgent “Mama!” filtering in from the nursery. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the two hour naps she takes, while I cross off items on my to-do list. My house has stayed relatively tidy for hours at a time (can you imagine? Hours!), bedtimes have consisted of little more than a bottle, a quick round up of bottle-blanket-Violet-pillow and not even one “but-I-need-a-drink-can-I-please-watch-one-more-show-I-didn’t-brush-the-back-teeth-though…” protest, and I’ve even pulled off a short nap in the pool.
But when the phone rings, I see the number for my in-laws’ cottage & my brain starts to burst with excitement…I pick it up & hear two high-pitched little voices screaming out “Hi Mommy!” and my heart literally burns to hug them. They are doing so well, they barely miss me at all. Which doesn’t make me sad, it makes me proud. That I’m raising daughters who are all at once independent and charming and just the right amount of vulnerable to their experiences. They tell me tales of feeding foxes, catching fish and getting so dirty there’s a bath-a-day minimum. They do concerts on the dock that cause neighbour’s boats to stop and take in the free entertainment. They swim, they have picnics in the massive tree house my in laws built just for them…in short, they are having the kind of summer that every kid DREAMS of having. A month away from your parents? With grandparents that simultaneously teach you and spoil you?
When they come back to me at the end of the month, they will be forever changed. They will have grown up years in their personalities, months in their looks & decades in their knowledge. I am so grateful to my in-laws for doing this for them. For giving them so much to look forward to, and delivering on the promises that these traditions hold in their wee little hearts.
One night, many months back, my father in law sat on the deck of the cottage they’ve worked tirelessly to turn into their dream home. He held my middle daughter in his lap & looking out at a calm Hay Lake he told her, “Girls are going to rule the world, chum.” And he’s made it a point to teach my daughters the tricks that will get them ahead in this girls’ world. I hope he’s right.
I want them to have all of this. I wouldn’t want them to be crying for me to come get them. I want them to stay and learn and laugh and experience. However…I miss them. Horrifically, physically, painfully miss them. I want to smell their sweaty hair, I want to squeeze their lotion-covered arms and I want their sinewy legs to wrap around my hips when I carry them up the stairs. I feel like my Mommy duties have been put on hold, and while I’m grateful for the break, I don’t feel as complete without them around. It just feels off. Instead of crying, I will overly-mother poor Maëlle…until she’s so sick of me she chooses the dog (which happens almost daily now). I will continue to make it a mission to learn more about Maë, to delight in the graces of silence, to pay more attention to my cat, to snuggle in closer to my husband. And silently count down the days until my babies come home (16 and counting…).