I have a stack of papers on my breakfast bar. It is a magic stack of papers that seems to reappear as soon as I think I have tackled it. It is the landing pad for the myriad of preschool flyers, the class schedule at the Y, Emma's latest watercolor pictures, the reminder from the dentist office that I have a cleaning coming up, the occasional Christmas card that's still drifting in after making a pit stop at our old address. It is my "hot spot". (Check out that link if you have no idea what I'm talking about. There are some good tips there, not that I currently follow any of them.) Among the papers are the preschool registration forms that I need to fill out and attach checks to if I want my children to be able to go to preschool in September. The last few years I have gone through this process and I have agonized over what to do. We never seem to be living in the same house in January that we will be living in in September. We are a moving people always on the lookout for the next place to set up camp. We have moved almost every year for the last six years (in other words, since we've been married). The moving has not always been our idea. Sometimes a new job uproots us. Sometimes a landlord decides to sell the house we're living in and so we have to move. Sometimes we decide that one bathroom is okay for a little while, but not a long-term living situation that we can deal with. Sometimes we just get an itch to change everything in the hopes that it will somehow make our lives better. And sometimes it does....for a little while...until we get the itch again.
My dream is to own a house and to have a garden and a kitchen with a window where I can look at my garden and think about what I want to cook based on what's growing. My dream is also to have a yard with a swing set and slide for the kids and the kind of weather that enables me to say to them, "go outside and play" and it won't require me zipping them into puffy suits for 20 minutes beforehand. But, if I had these things would I truly be happy? I don't know. Probably not. I'm sure I would be annoyed about something. I'm sure the roof would leak or the floors would creak or I would have mean neighbors. And then there would be the stupid itch again.
I think the only way for me to ever get rid of the itch once and for all is if I live in the present. Signing up for preschool eight months in advance does not make that easy. I don't know how it is where you're from, but people around here are already signing their three-year olds up for summer camps. Living in the present is not something we do as moms. As soon as we find out we're pregnant we calculate our due date. We imagine the what the weather will be like in our ninth month of pregnancy. We imagine how the baby's name will look in calligraphy on their wedding invitation (okay maybe that's just me). You fantasize about the baby being born because you think that once that happens, that will be like the end of something, because then you can finally sleep on your tummy and get some real rest. Then the baby is here and you start counting down until he/she is old enough to sleep through the night, or at least old enough to sleep in a bed and not on top of you while you sit stiffly nursing in a chair all night. If you're like me, you start planning first birthday party themes when the baby is six months old because that's when life will really be fun. And it goes on and on....when will they be old enough for soccer? Is it too early for ballet yet? When will they learn how to jump into a pool and swim by themselves already? And meanwhile, the days are piling up (kind of like a stack of papers on the breakfast bar) and you will look up from your Summer Camp research on the Internet at some point and wonder where your child's babyhood went. And all those years you spent dreaming about one day being a mother and a wife when you were six and twelve and nineteen? Well, they're actually here and all you can think about is six months from now....or one year from now...or fourteen years from now.
So today is Monday, January 28th, 2008 and here is what I'm going to do today. I'm going to go to the grocery store for milk and ingredients for dinner tonight. I'm going to have a conference with Emma's preschool teacher. I'm going to cook dinner, try to have everyone sit down at the same time to eat dinner and then we'll give the kids their bath, read them books and put them to bed. In between those small, but important events, I'm going to enjoy my children. I'm going to see them with the eyes of the person who dreamed of having them for all those years. I'm going to remind myself that this is the only January 28th, 2008 they're ever going to have, that I'm ever going to have, so I'm going to make it count.