Several evenings ago, I needed to finish a quick blog post. I was "watching" "American Idol" in the background with my 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 my son, because he sat practically on top of me and was talking the entire time about the singers and kept accidentally 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. It happens from the beginning, when we have babies nursing and sleeping on our chests. Then, soon after, we have toddlers climbing into our beds in the middle of the night, drinking out of our cups. Not much later, our kids want to sit right next to us ALL 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 we wanted to sweat through 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 minivans 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 together 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 10 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 at night, 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.