When my mom said she would like to take the kids for two weeks this summer, Will and I quickly agreed, knowing we would miss them but also aware of what a great time they would have. My parents live out in the country in the house I grew up in and between the pontoon, boat, camper, bikes, scooters, tractors and bonfires...I knew the kids would love it.
It's been just over a week since I've held them in my arms and the house has been so quiet. There are no little feet running down the hallway in the morning to wake me up with their hushed voices and wet kisses. No refills on milk or help making snacks. No requests to cover their feet while they lay on the couch near me or the random confessions of, "Mama? I love you" in the midst of what they're doing. No toys to pick up or Legos to step on. All those little things that we often take for granted as they become a part of our daily routine...the days turning to weeks, the weeks to months.
And then you blink. I blinked.
When they aren't under my feet all day, it really makes me stop and think how much my life revolves around being their mother. On one hand they are still very dependent on me and their daddy...but then I blink and Jackson is standing at the side of my bed exclaiming, "Look what I did! All by myself!" as he holds a "jelly sandwich" in his hands, a big smile plastered on his face. Upon seeing the large amount of strawberry jelly piled onto the center of his piece of bread, I could've freaked out about how he walked through the house and up 16 stairs with JELLY about to drip all over.
And had I done that, you can bet I would've also witnessed the light leave his perfect brown eyes because he was SO proud of himself. In his mind, he had done ME the favor of not waking me after a long night of work and made himself what he felt was a truly acceptable breakfast (hey, it's almost like toast & jelly, right?!). So I smiled and told him how great of a job he did as I seamlessly crawled out of bed and escorted him back down to the kitchen to put it on a plate (and scrape half the jelly back into the jar while he wasn't looking). He was so excited that he wanted to text daddy to tell him. The pride he felt over something so simple made my heart burst with love.
In those moments, it's like a slap in the face how quickly they are growing up. And don't let me lead you to think that Alice is still just our little girl. Nope, I've sure as heck blinked with her as well.
Whether it's her learning how to use the potty all on her own from start to finish (yay for not having to get up and help wipe bottoms!) or how she insists on walking next to the shopping cart rather than riding in it when I take her shopping. She's very opinionated on what she wears, how I do her hair and even what shoes she will leave the house in. She marches around the house with a shopping cart of play food, cooks in her play kitchen and will quite literally drop everything if one of her baby dolls begins to cry across the room. To see this unfold is truly adorable as either her or Jack are the ones making the baby "cries" in a high pitched crying sound. They act alarmed every time, rushing to the baby and picking it up to calm it.
So yes, the house is quiet. My feet are free of painful missteps on and around toys. I can sleep in and lounge around and not have to drop what I'm doing to break up a fight, kiss a boo boo or find a healthy snack so they aren't eating Poptarts all day. But my goodness do I miss it. All of it.
We are so blessed to have great family on both side that love our babies and treat them well. Now that we don't live in Michigan, I was feeling mommy guilt about the kids missing out on all the family activities. Summertime was always full of things like camping, road trips, cookouts and time on the lake. So, of course, when my parents offered to take the kids...it was a no brainer.
In fact, today they are spending the afternoon walking around Mackinaw City after having spent the night at a hotel (with a pool, which is where the picture above came from) to help watch my nephews while my sister took her NCLEX nursing exam. I remember walking the streets of Mackinaw City as a child, the smell of fudge and fresh saltwater taffy in the air. It felt magical. I hope that the kids feel that same magic in the area as they walk hand-in-hand with their gramma and papa today. My heart smiles just thinking of it.
In the meantime, I'm enjoying the time with Will. We're both still working our regular schedules, so the time together is still minimal. We've had the chance to eat at a great brunch place, go to the movies, get milkshakes (twice!) and have a lazy night of pizza. We're heading out for a sushi date here shortly and have a couples massage scheduled for tomorrow morning! So things are good on this side; but you can bet that I've been texting my sister and mom on the daily asking for photos of the kids! It helps to satiate that spot in my heart that is missing their crazy antics and sweet cuddles.
I blinked. I will continue to blink, as will other parents from every corner of the Universe, and we will quickly grieve the little pieces of our children's personalities that disappear as they grow older along with the loss of their chubby thighs and uncoordinated chubby hands reaching for our faces.
I've noticed recently that Jackson is morphing into the features of a big boy (from that of a toddler), thinning out to show his lean but muscular frame, his cheek bones peeking out from where his face used to be more rounded. I blinked and the baby features were gone...and I fear it's happening with Alice already as well, sweet girl.
At times like this, I find that sometimes we blink to fight back the tears and emotion of watching our babies turn into such wonderful and caring little people.