After four years of piloting our family into the uncharted waters of trio, then quartet, the beloved and I have come to realize how critical time away is. With two such dependent dependents, we are like camels. We go for days and days on a wee dram of what we used to utterly bathe in: time enough. Time enough to smooth out the wrinkles of misunderstanding, time enough to re-member ourselves and each other. The stuff relationships are built on.
Now that there’s not time enough, time away is critical. Not just to re-member our relationship to one another as a duo, but to discover and nurture our evolving familiness, above and beyond that which we see emerging out of the daily stresses attendant to earning an income and raising kids at the same time.
As with everyone, upon our return home from vacation, our backed-up, put-off work rushes back in (notice the skimpy number of posts this week?). And the kids’ days become filled again with other people’s care as well as ours.
Try as we might to lament this, though, and as familiar as that impulse might be, we can’t sustain the notion that they suffer for it. Because over and over again, upon return from our time away, we’ve had the opportunity to see how much the kiddles love-love-LOVE the other people in their lives who help us care for them.
Over the course of the past week, we’ve witnessed three enthusiastic greetings of the three main caregiver folk in their lives (outside the immediate family of their downstairs auntie & uncle): Ana came (yay!), then AnnZ (yay!), and a young woman best described as the Diaphanous Wood Nymph (yay!). Each time, their voices at the door triggered a mini-stampede, followed by a zesty group hug.
It’s a wonderful reminder that there are more celestial bodies in our childrens’ solar systems than us (just as there’s more in each of our lives than our parenthoods). They may need a sun (or two), and a moon (or two), but they need so much more than we two can give them. We see that in the way they thrive with others. Other planets, asteroids, comets, meteoroids, interplanetary dust! Bring ’em on! Together, we’ve got all the time in the world.
13 thoughts on “A brief ditty about time”
I don’t know what I enjoy most, your writing or your pictures! Both are outstanding. Here I am, sleepless in Seattle, and you are NOT putting me to sleep.
I have witnessed the power that many love sources can have in a child’s life; my own kiddles, like yours, had many “celestial bodies” and they thrived to become happy, productive, alive adults. Without that a child is impoverished. It makes as much sense as having two teachers for 12 years of schooling.
Great post about something that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately as the sands of the hourglass diminish before we become a quintet.
I think I’ll keep reading it again and again to flush out some of my hangups on asking others for help. I have always had the mantra of, we made this decision to have our family, we should be the ones responsible. But as I have recently reflected, and am reminded of again today, it’s not all about that.
It’s about the joy the “helpers” get when they spend time with our kids. It’s about the relationships and memories built for our kids.
It’s about our sanity.
During this pregnancy, I have had more “holy sh!t, what were we thinking” moments than I could even count. We have had many friends talk about and offer up their precious time to help us by either spending time with the boys or taking the baby. Why can’t I just be gracious about that and take them up on their offer? Instead, I over-analyze the hell out of it. I’ve got 8-9 more weeks to get over it because I know, we’re going to need it.
Laura C, thank you very much. The insomniac’s enemy! A dubious honor, but an honor nonetheless. You know, when you say, “It makes as much sense as having two teachers for 12 years of schooling,” I think you hit upon a great metaphor (simile? comparison!). Because certainly there’s a great deal of intimacy and knowledge that comes from that many years of knowing kids. But the range of skills and knowledge one would need to have to be able to manage that! I am daunted/respectful, since I do contemplate home schooling (or un-schooling, even).
I think one of the signs of evolution in any relationship is the recognition that one person (or here, two) cannot meet all the needs of another, and in fact that very truth is what leads us out of isolation and into community. Which itself is a blessing, if you ask me.
And a segué into a spirited “Yes, sister, go go go!” response to you, MaMaMia. I know all things are different for all people, or maybe even most things are different for most people. But still: for us, this recognition — that help from outside our nuclear unit was not just needed, but okay, even GOOD — was what saved us. And not just the parents part of us: all of us.
It is practically criminal how ordinary isolation seems to have become, at least for many middle class American families. And yet the moment anything of any profile in one’s life happens — births, challenging illnesses, so forth — there’s no question how much we need each other. And it’s OKAY. We’re supposed to.
The support that streamed out of the woodworks to help my sister’s family, during her son’s cancer battle — they came out of the school community, primarily, and the neighborhood — was nothing short of breathtaking, and it changed the way I look at everyone. These were ordinary middle class suburban people. Women mostly, but many men. And what they gave was both extraordinary, and at the same time very human.
I’m sure a lot of the passion in my response comes from that. And also the fact that I am a fairly self-isolating person (paradoxically, since I also am driven to build bridges between people). It’s far, FAR easier for me to give help than ask for it (and then receive it). A good (very helpful) friend has been making the case to me that the most genuine, intense connections between people happen in these times: when we become vulnerable, and ask for and give support. That can’t work very well when it’s in perpetual imbalance (one always helping, never asking for help).
She should know. She was nearly killed once, and for a very long time had little choice but to receive the help that was so sincerely flowing toward her. She the helper, and — up until then — rarely the helped.
While it’s been very challenging for me to make the transition to asker of help, there’s no question that the arrival of our second child forced that on me. And what a surprise: it has opened up a new intimacy in old friendships (youngest of which was over 20 yrs). And conferred the proper depth and resonance to the term “extended family.”
Now I know you’re going from two to three. But I also know I’m slow and deliberate, a poor multitasker, and one with menopause to boot. So maybe our experiences are comparable at this rate (factoring in my handicaps). Everything is different for everybody. Except for this, I think: deeper connection to good loving people is always good.
Eeeps! Comment longer than post! Ooops. Somebody hide my soapbox from me before the urge strikes again.
I disagree with you about your census, but I enjoy your writing.
….carry on. 🙂
I believe that I need that Wood Nymph’s t-shirt – where did she get it??
Ho ho! Funny you should ask! Right ‘chere at:
Okay, actually my humble CafePress shop, with which I hope to recoup a portion of the costs of doing this blog. Though right now, it’s just working on recouping the costs of doing the CafePress shop. Ironic, eh?
Ha!! That is way funny – people will think we had that planned 🙂 I’m still getting one though!
I think learning to take time for yourself and time to be with your partner is the hardest thing for any parent to learn to do.
I really love that t-shirt too.
Everyone keeps telling me that kindergarten will be SO GOOD FOR ALL OF YOU. And yes, in fact, it has been a loooong summer of destroyed living room furniture and general kid destruction. But T. starts tomorrow and I am a bit short of breath. Who will all these ppl be who will be caring for him ALL DAY LONG, EVERYDAY. He will change, and I won’t be there to witness it! I know it will be good for him. I am just fretting here and feeling VERY sorry for myself. Anyway, your post was wonderful and so perfectly timed. THIS is what I need to remind myself. We can’t always have my husband and I as his primary reference points. He needs lots of input, perspectives, energy, ideas coming at him. I know it will ignite such amazing growth, I know it will inspire him. And my controling tendancies will need to suck it up. So, my wonderful son, will be thrown into his own wonderful solar system tomorrow, with endless support, new ideas and fun swirling about him. Woo hoo! I just need to kick myself in the ass and get into that orbit right along side everyone else myself. Shuddering sigh. No. SNAP OUT OF IT. He is going to do great. And so will I. Thanks for the brilliant post!
Oh, LD. Amen, sister. We struggled at the beginning of this adoption, feeling like if it wasn’t us there all day every day, we were failing. With time, with bonding, with the development of security and love, we’re all able to roam away from each other. We just got back from a wedding in my best friend’s back yard, where our daughter behaved – well, like a kid at a wedding. Came running up to one or the other of us every so often for a hug, or a touch base, or to ask for candy or cake or pop, or some other sugar-filled bomb. But she was surrounded by adults who talked to her, and hugged, and tickled, and laughed with, and cared for, and protected her. All the aunts and uncles who can be utterly goofy and get her all giggly and worked up on sugar. All the people who can say yes, and sneak her toffee, where she knows her mom and mama will say no, that sugar will rot your teeth. And we watched her run, bathed in the glory of all that caring, and I realized that as long as we can, for awhile, choose the folks in that circle, then we don’t have to be everything to her. We can’t be. We shouldn’t be. It takes a village. It came as a bit of a shock to see the village made real. It was like a little piece of fairy magic, this weekend. Paper bag lanterns, and fairy lights, and a magical village appearing from nowhere, built overnight, and dissolved into its component pieces in the morning and flung back to where they came from. But she knows it can be built now. And will be again. And it’s one of the foundation stones that will enable her to step into Grade 1 in 2 weeks with a little more self-confidence. She is loved, by many. She is protected by a whole village.
That is just beautiful. So beautiful. So very happy for you all, Shereen. So very happy.
And Caroline, I’ve thought a lot about you today (end of the day Monday). I hope there was much fun and much swirling.