This really has been the summer of Catie. I mean, in terms of doing as little as possible that makes my unhappy, that is. I haven't had near enough beach time for my liking but there isn't too much I can do about that.
Or is there? I'm not sure. I am too busy sitting around watching Netflix and reading novels and wondering how my children got old enough to not need me so much anymore. I have one kid who works all day (and it isn't Cicely), I have one kid who sits around most of the day on the computer, waiting for all those people who want her to work for them to call (and that is Cicely). I have one kid who plays with his friends all day and I have Amelia who has decided she's a big girl and can entertain herself.
Every now and then I inject myself into their view and ask "how's it going? Does anyone need anything?" to which they respond with one word answers like "good" and "nope". And I continue wandering around aimlessly pondering this stage of our lives and what it means.
And this is my determination. They are growing up. So amazingly fast are they growing up. I feel like they are leaving me behind.
I have spent the last week or two wishing September would come faster and then smacking myself on the hand for wishing away the summer like that. But I am wishing for it because then school will start again. For me. When I am in school I am so busy and have so much to do and I don't feel so left behind anymore.
When I go out I force as many children as are home to go with me. I feel like I need to spend every minute with them. I feel almost desperate to be with them, as if our time together is limited. I don't know if that is true but that's what it feels like. When we are all home, they don't want me. They have their own interests and rarely does that include me. It's how I trained them, I wanted them to be independent and self-reliant and damn, if they aren't the pictures of self-reliance! So I take them places because they need me to get them back home again. They are trapped by my methods of madness and they don't even know it.
This summer has felt different than every other summer I have ever had as a mother. And I think I know why.
Here is the truth. I have one year of school left. And my heart is being pulled towards a career. I want something for me. As the children grow and leave I have to make sure I have something for me or I will be sucked into a chasm of sadness and displacement. I won't be able to get out, it will eat my sanity and leave me empty. I know it will. I know this because I feel it when they are busy and I am not. It surges through my veins when they are gone and I am home without them.
It comes on so fast. I barely have time to blink and it's there. There's a heaviness, a loneliness, a sinking. I don't like to be alone. I mean, what mother and housewife says that? Don't get me wrong, I like me some alone time. But a day, one day, with nothing to do and I am literally in the dumps. That's all it takes. I have the standard list of things I want to do so that I don't get like that. Like reading and housework and errands and movies. But my distractions only carry me so far.
I used to be the queen of projects. I used to do so much when my kids were young. I doted on them and then doted on me in my free time. I was painfully happy and content in my role of mother. Stay at home mother. But none of those things I used to love hold any interest for me anymore. They are all things I used to do alone, because I was hardly ever alone and I cherished the time I spent with just me. But now, I feel an aversion towards my home. Where there used to be a craving to be home there is now a longing, a pull to get out of the house and stay out as long as there is no one in it lest the loneliness eats me whole.
People gently criticize my choices. They ask me why I do so much. They ask me how I do it. The answer is simple. I have to do it, or I sink. And I don't want to sink. I do everything in my power to make sure that when I do start to sink I know that soon I will have to shake it off because there is just so much to do and only me to do it. That chaos, that busy bustling of energy, is where I find my level ground. It's where I feel most sane and put together. It's where I aim to be forevermore.
The moment I stepped onto the university campus two years ago I knew I had chosen the right path for me. It has never felt wrong or unmanageable and I know it is leaving me with options of where I will find joy. It isn't the path for everyone, I get that. I am excited for the future, and what even appears to be the near future, even though it means this time at home with my children might be coming to an end. There are many moments when that is hard to reconcile in my soul but then I remind myself that nothing is set in stone, my options are wide open, I am not trapped in a life that has the tendency to make me unhappy, and my children are still here with me, for the time being.
It's been a good life. And I am determined to make sure it stays that way. For them. And for me.