Weeknights chez Pig resemble nothing so much as a three-ring circus, if three-ring circuses came with exasperated ringleaders chasing cast members who like to run around naked, whooping songs about their butts. Warren has been traveling more often, which means there's been only one ringleader for most of this week. I am not too proud to admit that going solo has been kicking my @ss, let me tell you. So I was more than a little surprised the other night when, during the usual round of packing lunches and supervising homework and clearing up dinner and making sure pajamas eventually got put on the naked cast members, a thought suddenly popped into my head:
It's not always going to be this way.
Even more surprisingly, my emotional response wasn't relief or joy, but disappointment, with a tinge of melancholy. You mean, some day these kids aren't going to be here? Really? How is that possible? They're so completely intertwined in the warp and weave of my life, it's impossible to fathom what it would mean to be in this house without them. I had an epiphany about why empty-nesters always say "the house is so quiet," in tones of surprise. Is it remotely possible to get things done in our house without a running commentary in the background? I can't even imagine it anymore.
For whatever reason, it really struck home this week that all the noise, chaos, and activity we experience in our house is temporary. Some day, our evenings will be uneventful again. Some day, I'll tidy up the living room and it will stay tidied up for longer than the time it takes for two little girls to invent a game that requires a throw pillow, a deck of playing cards, and every piece of plasticware in the house. Some day, we might even get some *real* furniture, instead of the secondhand-slash-inherited living room "suite" we've cobbled together over the years, whose most compelling positive feature is the fact that we don't care about the stray marker stains. As much as I enjoy the calm and serenity when we're down a kid or two for an evening, I'm going to miss the energy they bring to our daily lives once they're grown and gone.
Meantime, as I've been working on this post, I've had to tell Celeste to release her death grip on my arm, demand that India stop running a science experiment on my coffee table that involves soaking things in water, force Cici to brush her teeth under threat of immediate banishment from the couch, and ask both girls to settle down multiple times. The dog keeps getting on the couch and nudging my arm for attention, while the girls are blowing up a balloon and releasing it over and over to fly around the room, laughing hysterically at the flatulent sound it makes. I'm about to go out of my mind from irritation and empty-nest syndrome looks like a pretty good problem to have right about now. But in ten minutes someone's going to want a sleepytime hug, or snuggle next to me for a story, or ask for one of Mommy's special tuck-ins, and all will be right in my world once again. Even though parenting takes place in a never-ending now, I've made a conscious decision to savor these moments against the day when "now" turns into "then."