I’m on vacation in Michigan. It’s lovely here.
I’ve always loved Lake Michigan. It has been our family place for summer vacation for all of family life. We brought the first kids were when they were infants. They crawled on the sand as the water filled their diapers and puffed them up like bubble butts.
Soon there were six of us. We had to rent bigger cottages. In fact the current cottage is actually two cottages. And this year the children are few.
The two older ones cannot come this year. They have their own lives and pursuits. One of them just returned from her own 1 year wedding anniversary vacation and couldn’t take any more time off to join us.
The two younger kids (ages 19 and 22) are arriving is a few days. They have jobs and schedules of their own and can’t spend the whole week in family bliss.
My dear sister-in-law and her husband can only come for one overnight towards the end of the week. They used to bring their daughters, but now their daughters have their own kids and can’t take the time away from family life.
And so it is quiet. Very quiet. Just like our big house at home – systematically emptying with the echoes of memories bouncing off the walls.
I brought plenty to keep busy. I have writing projects and deadlines to meet. The stack of books I brought is getting shorter. Haven’t touched the craft projects yet, but as the week wears on they will come out.
Everything changes. And it happens more quickly than you think.
There were long summers of sweat and kid boredom that we thought would never end. I spent days thinking up projects and trips to take to keep the spirit of enrichment alive. We read loads of books and created stacks of crafts.
And now it’s all different.
Last year, it made me sad. Turns out I was looking in the wrong direction.
I was looking back at what I had – a life full of kids, activity, snots and stress – and missing it from the pit of my stomach.
I wasn’t looking ahead. Times are different. But different doesn’t mean less-than. It just means different.
And so I recall the days of mind-numbing sameness of the season of mothering and I look ahead to a time of days filled only with my choices, my preferences, my chosen activities.
It is both exhilarating and terrifying.
It’s real mom life.