Today I took the 15 month old little girl I watch part time to the playground.
The time I spend with her is a sweet little throwback
to when my own kids were small-
when the rhythms of life revolved around meals and snacks,
sippy cups, diaper changes and naps.
When I get there in the morning,
I greet her with genuine warmth.
No matter whether I felt like being there that morning or not,
seeing her face light up in a big smile as she spots me coming around the corner
makes me smile.
We hang out for a while as she eats breakfast in her high chair.
I put a Raffi CD on and sing along as I chatter to her.
After that, we blow bubbles, read books or do playdoh for a while.
Now that the weather is nice, the highlight is taking a walk
and ending up at the park, where I will push her on a swing
and we watch the other children run, laugh and play.
Today, as I was happily enjoying the warm sun while pushing E in the swing,
another mom came over and put her 18 month old daughter in the baby swing beside ours.
Her other daughter, four years old,
was misbehaving in a bid for her share of her mother's attention.
We started chatting amiably as playground-moms do,
and she talked about how tired she was,
how her 18 month old still doesn't sleep through the night
and her four year old drives her into the ground.
She asked about "my little girl" and I explained that I am her part-time babysitter
and that I have three children of my own,
who are now (impossibly!) nearly 15, 11 and 8.
She immediately looked envious
and softly whined "Tell me it gets easier."
I did reassure her that it does get easier
and shortly thereafter, she headed off to get her kids lunch
and I plopped a sleepy E in her stroller and walked her home.
Really, I didn't have the heart to tell her that only in some ways does it get easier.
Yes, my kids sleep through the night.
But, they aren't all in bed by 8 PM anymore either.
On weekends, my daughter is often up as late or later than we are now.
Soon, we will be staying up to make sure she gets home
when she is out late at night.
Our mornings are rushing to get to school on time
instead of the leisurely breakfasts with PBS in the background
and our afternoons are filled with sports practices and games
and homework assignments and instrument practice.
The very slow pace of life that drives mothers of very young children insane
is the pace of life a mother of older kids craves.
Before, I couldn't WAIT to get out of the house every day
and now I adore the chance to just stay home, uninterrupted.
Without doubt, I do remember how very slowly the days with young children
seemed to creep by like years.
I knew what she meant and I was happy to reassure her.
But my heart remembers and longs for those sweet, simple days
of sticky hands and open mouth kisses
and bubbles shimmering in the sun
on a spring day