Several evenings ago I needed to finish a quick blog post while at the same time I was “watching” American Idol with the almost 10-year old. I usually try to keep my laptop closed at this time of the night, while the kids are still up, because A) I am really trying to not work during that part of the evening when so many other things need to happen, like snuggles and teeth brushing and bath-taking and B) I really cannot concentrate too well with all of those (lovely) distractions anyway.
But this night, I really did need to work on something at this point of the evening because I promised someone else I would get it done and I had a lot of other things on my to-do list since I was leaving town the next morning. And it was ALMOST finished, I just needed to wrap it up in its little blog bow.
I got a tad upset with Ben because he sat practically on top of me and was talking the entire time about the singers and kept nudging my laptop. At one point I silenced myself from outwardly saying it but inside I was yelling, “Can I get some space, Please?!?!”
In motherhood our space is constantly compromised. From the beginning we have babies nursing and sleeping on our chests, then toddlers climbing into our beds in the middle of the night, drinking out of our cups and then kids wanting to sit RIGHTNEXT to us much of the time. Even the space we take up is often altered because we are a mother. Instead of sitting in one of the dining chairs like the rest of the family, sometimes we stand to eat. Occasionally we are missing from the exercise class that we wanted to go to because we were up the night before with a sick child and are subsequently exhausted, or we find ourselves sleeping in their bed instead of our own for one reason or another. We drive mini vans instead of sedans and many times we sit on park benches or swings instead of office chairs.
Later on, after my post was complete and published, we finished watching the show and I sat next to my boy with a different frame of mind. Of course then MY distractions were less and I was able to actually enjoy his silly ramblings about the singers and there was no laptop to accidentally nudge. The lack of space between us became less of an issue and I settled in next to him. Then, I started to think about how someday, so soon, the tables would probably be turned.
I might come into his bedroom when he is a teenager to talk to him about something and sit too close to him on his bed. Perhaps he’ll look right at me and say the same thing in his head through those amazing blue eyes, “Mom, Can I get some space please?”
I know those days are just around the corner and that is part of the reason why I try to be near my kids now, even when it is hard for me. Even on days when I have had little space or time to myself I try to think ahead and gain some perspective. I imagine myself in a place five or even ten years from now, knowing how much less they will need me then; how much time will have gone by in virtually no time to me. I know the days of sitting too close to me on the over-sized chair are numbered. The times when I can smell their hair without looking like some kind of weirdo are here now and gone tomorrow. But the push and pull of wanting to be near them and the desire for time and space to myself is strong. I struggle with it as a mother and a person quite often.
I hope they do not know this but I sense they do in some ways.
And someday I will sense it too. All too soon, they will take up different space as well. Instead of being in a booster seat in the “way back” of my van they will be in the driver’s seat. Instead of being snug in their beds they will be in the movie theater, sitting next to their friends and I will wait for them until curfew. They won’t wake me up begging for breakfast, because they will sleep way past that time. No one will swing on the play set out back or slide down the now-too-small plastic slide on the side because they are just too big.
So for now, I will let them sit right next to me, even if internally I am begging to have my space. Because now is short.
So, so short.