The travelers will be home today, and the two bachelorettes will be back to everyday life in mere hours. A few things picked up and put away, a spit and a polish, and we will be done and ready for the weary tourists to drop their bags in the entryway. It’s been a relaxing, fun weekend, and though I enjoyed every moment of it, I look forward to hearing tales from the road and getting back to the whirlwind that is my full life.
The older girls are coming home from the last school trip they will take before college. I wonder if they appreciated it in that light? There will be other outings, with family and friends, colleagues, even jaunts for university groups if they are lucky, but this is the last band trip with friends that will so soon be scattered to the winds. I hope it has been a fun, eventful journey that they will look back upon fondly.
A little deviation from the normal routine lets us all look at things from a different perspective and perhaps appreciate it all a bit more. Number three and I got a sneak-peek at what life might be like in a few years, and numbers one and two got special time to spend with both their dad and high school friends – things that will be in a little shorter supply soon.
More lasts; then on to another round of firsts.
My youngest and I are bachelorettes for the next few days, if that’s applicable to a couple of bi-generational females who are foot-loose and fancy free while the rest of the family goes on a school trip. We only have the two of us to think about and we have a nice, leisurely weekend stretching ahead of us. What to do, what to do?
This might actually be a little preview of life in general in a few years, when it’s just daughter number three left in the house, but for these particular days my husband gets to have last chance out-of-the-ordinary time with our oldest girls while he chaperones their trip, and I get to have special time with our youngest, paying her a little extra attention and maybe sneaking in a little girl time for myself. The only specific request I got from her was to make sure we had a little lazy time built-in to our weekend, but I think I can accommodate that.
Over breakfast this morning, we made a few loose plans. Later tonight we have a meeting to attend at the school she’ll be enrolled in next year, so perhaps before that we’ll get a two-top at a restaurant and have a small dinner together. Friday night? Hmmmmmm. Surprisingly, there is nothing on the calendar. Go out to a movie and munch on some popcorn out of the same bucket? Wander the mall, picking and poking at the stores new offerings? Paint our toenails? Rent movies and stay in, cuddling under a communal blanket? Then there is Saturday, and Sunday….
The world is our oyster.
Well, it’s set. We have decided on a date for the Graduation open house. The invitation to the Senior All Night Party has been sent back in. Cap and gown have been ordered. Immediate relatives have been given the date for the official graduation ceremony. As her father says, all my eldest has to do now is actually graduate.
Senior year is such a tough time in any person’s life. It’s a time of some firsts but many more lasts. It’s hard for them to concentrate on what they are finishing because there is this big, new, shiny thing hung there in front of them: college and finally living away from home. I don’t really remember my Senior year other than as a time of impatient waiting. I was so ready to move on that the last year seemed a waste.
That made it easier to leave behind all the familiar and friendly, all of the people and places I had been around for all my life. Without the chafing feeling of needing to move on, perhaps it would have been just too sad to end my childhood. I don’t remember moving from child to adult, myself. If I had it to do again, I might savor the many things I would never be able to do again in the same way. Adulthood is so tantalizing, so desired, so coveted by the young, and my daughter is now the one ready to move on. I see it in her, and so keep silent about my small regrets; she would probably politely discount my words anyway. I am older, how can I understand?
I am left here, mourning it for her. Quietly.
Last night I slept with the window open for the first time all year. At least, I think I did. From the moment I remember laying my cheek on the pillow to the alarm going off this morning, the night miraculously disappeared. All I know is that I was unceremoniously woken in the pre-dawn, forced to rouse grouchy kids, and somehow robbed of the pleasure of enjoying that open window.
After a full and busy week of my children being mostly home, I am now enjoying a solitary, quiet cup of coffee and attempting to regroup. I didn’t go to Florida like some, or send the kids off to relatives, like others. Instead, I had a week here with my chicks, and I planned accordingly. I didn’t get all of my goals accomplished, and I’m sticking with the excuse that it rained on and off for most of the week so gardening and car washing was a moot point. We got quite a few movies watched, I got a lot of work done on my trumpet(s), and we went out to dinner an inordinate amount of time, making it so I didn’t have to cook much. I got my bike cleaned up and Spring-ready on the first day of break, when it looked to be nice, but that was as far as that got.
Stretching before me is the sprint to the end of the school year and, most significantly, to the graduation of my eldest daughter. There will be quite a few mingled firsts and lasts coming up, and I hope to savor them all, recognizing them as they pass. I thought I’d dread this time. Instead, it’s shaping up to be exciting and re-energizing for all of us. I just hope I can hold on to this wild ride as it careens to June and beyond.
But first, just a few more sips of coffee….
We have a cedar climber at the back of the yard that used to get played on hard. We researched the best ones, ordered it in pieces, and spent a weekend building it with some friends when our first daughter was two and couldn’t even really use it yet. I hung an infant swing from a yardarm for her newborn sister to safely sway while I spent hours pushing her as she clutched tight to the pegs on the horse-swing. It was quite a few years before she learned to pump her legs on the regular sling swings, and the day she did was something of a celebration for me. Though I had two more children to get to that point, the independence it gave both of us was sweet.
All three girls found parts of the structure that were their favorites, though different sections were prime in different phases of their childhood. We had a toddler’s bouncy horse we left outside near the structure that used to get fed a mixture of mud and grass after the kids got too heavy to safely ride it. The pirate look-out off the one end let the girls watch for any hazards or threats. There were kitchen toys in the bottom section of the gazebo that were really meant to be inside items but just worked much better out there, growing faded with use and sunlight. The interior maze of the slide side of the climber got too hard to negotiate as they got too large for the bends and turns, so they just went up the outside of the tower like monkeys to get to the top of the slide.
They aged out one by one, as other pursuits became more important. The slide tower is now a spider’s paradise, the gazebo tower leans a little to the east, and these days all three girls could reach up and touch the swing ladder without having to stretch much. It’s time for it to go, before we fill the yard with well-wishers and relatives and neighbors celebrating that former two-year-old’s completion of high school. On the one hand, it will be nice to get our yard back and make it a little more adult and clear; perhaps I’ll get a grown-up gazebo out of the deal. On the other hand, I am a bit sad to contemplate looking out there and not seeing it. It has been a part of the view for a long time, and it’s disappearance will be a concrete admission that our girls have grown up.
The older girls don’t seem to have a problem with helping us dismantle it and move it to the trash, little by little, but the youngest girl is closer to having used it. She is more reluctant to see it go away so we may have to save the blue canvas-topped gazebo tower, move it back into the ivy out of the glare of the neighbor’s houses, and refurbish it into a pre-teen reading retreat.
That’s not a bad compromise. Maybe if I don’t get my grown-up version she’ll let me join her every so often this summer. I’ll bring my own pillow.
There is something highly anticipatory and satisfying about planning a garden while the air is still crisp and the ground partially frozen. As I was standing at the window this morning looking out at the back yard and drinking my coffee, I was struck into a momentary panic by the thought that we would be hosting a graduation party out there in mere months. Though portions of the yard have been “improved” over the years, I have let some sections slide over the last few as we spend more time at the boat in the summer than here at the house. There will be a lot of work to do to get ready for a graduation open house this summer.
This is a great excuse to get online and start to look at some catalogs, planning forays into the wild under-brush, coming up with plans for space already won and designing spaces yet to be. I think I’ll need some help on this project too, so I’d better get a full array of new gardening gloves and a few new tools so I can put younger, stronger backs to work pulling and digging and hauling. They can get in on the planning, too, and perhaps that will make everyone a little happier about the sweat-equity they are about to invest.
As my twinge of panic turned to planning, I calmed down a little. Yes, it will be a major effort to get everything ready for a multitude of visitors. If I keep it weeded after the party and remember to winterize it wisely, it will be very close to ready for next year’s open house to celebrate my middle daughter’s graduation.
This will be a two-fer, pretty much. The second one will be a breeze.
I didn’t even realize I was on the downside of the hill of life until I was partway down, and now I can’t climb back up. It’s like a giant greased slope, sending me downward ever faster, gaining momentum. My thumbs are creaky, I need less food than I used to before I start to “store” it, my memory is starting to cause single words to just disappear from my brain for a little while, and it’s not quite as easy to bounce up from sitting on the floor as it used to be. Not only all that, but my contemporaries seem to be losing family members and friends at a faster rate.
So far, my eyes are my biggest complaint with the aging process, so perhaps I am one of the lucky ones. A few years ago, I started having trouble seeing things close to me – teensy, tiny numbers and letters began to appear everywhere. I would move the object of my attention a bit further away each time, finally having to combine squinting and raising my eyebrows to make out what it said. When I started having to pass things to my daughters to read for me, I knew I was going to have to take the plunge into the dreaded realm of reading glasses. How uncool is that? After going most of my life with pretty sharp eyesight, I was stuck trying to figure out how to possibly not look like a grandma with any style I might pick. There are people who look chic and well put together in glasses. Some make you look smarter, some sexier, some more fashionable. All of the frames I tried on, however, just made me look old. I finally ended up with some that my eldest daughter said made me look like Meryl Streep. I was flattered until I realized that Miss Meryl is more than a decade older than me.
I really, really, really don’t like the effects of getting older. I do prefer it to the alternative, however.