“What’s Libby up to this week?”
“Not much — she’s only 16 months. She’s basically just a tyrannical ping pong ball.”
“How about she comes to our house for a few days?”
This was a recent conversation that I had with my mother. Whaaaaaattttt??? You’re actually offering to take the kid who gets into everything, has the attention span of a gnat, and has started throwing royal fits if she doesn’t get her way? Be. My. Guest.
I gave Mimi and Papa plenty of outs to renege on their offer, but they were steeled for the challenge. Our third daughter is very sweet yet very, very sassy and has really started to come into her own. Basically, that’s code for she’s a royal PITA these days. I have a hard time getting anything accomplished because she’s always “helping” or wandering off to get into some kind of trouble. Every task takes 3,000 times as long for a multitude of reasons. And it wears on me. I like to check boxes off my to-do lists, not add four times as many.
It’s also like she knows she is the third child. We swear she is keeping an internal list of all of our transgressions against her so that when she’s in therapy someday she can unload all her grievances. She takes note of all of the exciting things her old sisters are able to do and does not hold back in her disappointment at her exclusion. I empathize with her, but it does get frustrating for both of us.
And so we had three days without our youngest. I dropped back down to two children (who are older and more self-sufficient than the last time there were only two of them). And the difference in having just two again was startling.
Our morning felt so much less rushed! We quickly dressed in seasonally appropriate attire and had time for a good tooth scrubbing, unlike our usual cursory mouth swipe. We had time for a full breakfast, not just scooping Cheerios into mouths as quickly as possible while checking the window to see if the bus was going by. We even had time to double check that homework and lunch bags were in backpacks!
After I got one daughter on the bus and the second daughter to preschool, I had four GLORIOUS hours to myself! I went to Home Depot for a bathroom project and was able to really think about what I needed to purchase and what could wait for another day. I did some early Christmas shopping. And I was able to have an uninterrupted, stress-free lunch with two girlfriends. On my way to pickup from preschool, I did a few more errands just so I could pop in and out of the car unencumbered by car seats. Amazing.
One poignant takeaway from being down a child for a few days was that it was like a glimpse of my life in the future. Not too long from now, I will routinely have this kind of “freedom” while all of my children are in school. It makes me question what I will do with that free time. Will I find a part-time job? Volunteer at their school or at another organization important to me? Or maybe I’ll become a gym rat?
Only time will tell what I will do with my newfound free time when that day arrives. What I do know is that I will continue to try my hardest to enjoy this short period when I have kiddos home with me who want to be around me. Even on our most overwhelming days, they always know how to put a smile on my face and close the day out with love and a snuggle. That is a treasure I wouldn’t give up for all the time in the world.