Something in this fresh air and possibly the new life all around turns me into mush for the time when my children were smaller and not celebrating these bigger birthdays.
Every ounce of my being aches to freeze time exactly where it is, but this busy season seems to pass all the more quickly the tighter I try and hold onto it.
I was having a discussion with a friend the other day, and she was talking about enjoying a few hours in the afternoon of doing some "get to" things instead of "have to" things.
My heart leapt when she said those words: GET TO. YES!!
How many hours a day do we spend in the minutia: the morning routine of packing lunches and making sure the correct homework folder is tucked away and "Oh, don't forget your milk money!"
We fly off to work, with visions of their school days dancing in our heads. Did he remember his belt? Did I put an ice pack in her lunch box? Even though our bodies are elsewhere, at least a piece of our minds remain focused on the "have to's."
And then afternoons of checking homework and fixing a quick dinner and off to soccer practice and "Wait, I need to put some sunscreen on you!"
Then, the evenings. The showers and hair combing and teeth brushing. The stories and prayers and snuggles and all of the cups of water and fixed nightlights.
And we move on to dishes and laundry and tidying and preparing to do it all again. The. Very. Next. Day.
And it's exhausting, at times. Sometimes, the right answer is just what my friend was enjoying: a bit of euphoria over some time for a "get to."
Enjoying a show without folding laundry at the same time, finally finishing that book you've been halfway through for months, just falling asleep early and waking refreshed, an hour walking outside or an evening glass of wine.
And the weeks where the Meat Man travels are the weeks where I see most keenly the juxtaposition of "have to" and "get to."
Sometimes, I rush around all day in the "have to's" and forget, that maybe, some of those can be "get to's" as well.
On our way home from soccer practice, as I begin to relax as the mania of the day comes to a close, I look into my rear view mirror. And I see a handsome, chiseled face just starting to take on the look of a young man. I see messy, sweaty hair, and the evening sun glancing off those cheekbones and that chin, and those long eyelashes topping that ornery grin as he sees me watching him and smiling at him and smiles right back at me. He was just arguing with his sister an hour ago--how can he look so mature in this moment!?
And I recommit myself to the "have to's." The details that I'm responsible for that allow these precious beings to feel at home.
The comfort of a home-cooked meal that took me hours to prepare.
The safety in looking up at practice and seeing me watching.
The love felt in snuggling up with a book that I read while I ignore a hundred other tasks.
Sometimes, I just need a reminder: these "have to's" can also be "get to's."
Don't misunderstand me: at the end of the night, I need a little mindless tv or a few chapters of a good book, and when my husband returns from his trip, I
And sometimes, we need the reminder that what we are doing IS hard, but it IS important, too. This is God's work, this raising of children. Sacrifice and tears and frustration and full hearts: these, too, shall pass, and often far too quickly.
So, for today, I will stick out my chin and open my arms and do my best to let my "have to's" and my "get to's" come together and create my life.