In the days when I had infants, I spent long hours in dark rooms with a nursing baby fantasizing about the concept of space.
Physical space, where my body wasn’t constantly touched and needed.
Emotional space, to feel and tend to only my own needs.
Intellectual space, to tend to work and passions and personal projects.
As I enter a new phase of parenting, where my children begin to spread their wings, I can still so vividly remember the very suffocating feeling of being so desperate for space. For air. For room to move. For freedom from the needs of others.
As I enter a new phase of parenting, where my children begin to spread their wings, I poignantly long for the simplicity of that very complicated but exceedingly simple time. Where the exhausting and humbling fact that my children needed so much of me was the exact reason that we had such intimacy.
My children push away, want to do it themselves, go it alone, more and more often. They are growing and developing and they want their own world, not just our world. Every day that passes, every month since their last birthday, every year gone by this need they have to have a life outside of me will grow.
This is the natural order of things…is what I tell myself when I cry in the shower. And I am right. And that’s why it’s sad. Because this is the cost of the space I dreamed of.
Now instead of fantasizing about more space around my body, more space in my mind, more space for my personal pursuits, I fantasize about freezing time right now. Freezing us right here, where my body largely belongs to me but their hearts are still in my hands. Where I can leave if I want to, but I don’t really want to.
I write this from another dark room. No one is nursing. No one is sleeping precariously perched on my chest. I’m free to leave, but I stay. I have space. Empty rooms all over this house. But here I am.
My children are sleeping, with their legs draped over mine. They asked me to stay with them until they slept, a request that would have brought a wave of panic in earlier years during a time that their needs seemed endless and my self seemed invisible.
More recently a request like this brings me relief, that they still need the closeness as much as I do. That I made it through a hard part and can enjoy a sweet spot.
Which means I can make it through another hard part and to the next sweet spot.