I'm playing tether-ball with Nutmeg, via a catnip mouse attached to a long-handled string. He's an excellent player with a phenomenal jumping ability as well as superb paw-eye coordination. Truly, it's impressive. While there is NO way Percy could make it in the wild (any sort of wild) for a half-hour, in Nutmeg I see the vestiges of the wild cats from which he's descended; he would ace living on his own in a non-domestic habitat, though I know he'd miss me. It's so cool to watch him, to experience his skill to silently hunt me (my toes, whatever). You do not hear a sound, not one, and then he pounces. "Where did you come from, Nutmeg?!" I often exclaim. And his patience is extraordinary. He will wait, and wait, and wait, for one last drop of water to fall from my bathtub faucet, for the cricket to jump once more, for the squirrel he surely saw to appear again. If he's hunting, he's like the Dalai Lama in meditation. I enjoy these moments with my playful cat. He doesn't talk (well, he does have an extensive range of meows but it's not the same as little boy talking), he needs very little. He just wants to snuggle sometimes and to play. I recognize that really, those two things are what the boys most want too, and I love to do those things with them. But there is SO much else that they need and want, and at times, it's utterly overwhelming. It is not unusual for my stomach to feel like its churning butter once they leave for school. And I don't mean that in a good, homesteader way because in that instance, I'd be rewarded with butter. In my situation, I feel vaguely ill.
I have only so much capacity at 7am to listen, respond, act, make, do, acknowledge, prepare, feed, remind, urge, answer, help. What they boys want is always more than my reservoir has within it. That's a fairly simple equation regarding supply and demand, and the guttural ache is a direct response to being on the wrong side of the 'equals' sign. I don't know what other families experience with their children of this young age, and really, it doesn't much matter. This is my family, and I wouldn't change that for the world. But I do long for a time, a day, when things aren't so intense, when there's not so much being desired. Because if an unexpected element enters the fray -finding that Percy pooped on our bathmat this morning, for example; realizing that Jack neglected to do all of his homework; remembering a forgotten must-do - the scales plunge rapidly downward on the take side.
When I must be on for extra-normal extended periods of time, I feel disappointed that the things I should (simply want? shoulds are a bitch) be eagerly anticipating are those about which I start to feel some tinge of dread. Take, for example, Halloween. Though I'm an uninspired Halloweener, it is delightful to watch the boys race to each door, hear their darling tiny voices politely trill "trick-or-treat" to each person, watch them try mightily to repress their urge to take everything in the bowl, admire so lovingly their respectful take of just one and then a "thank you!". I do love it so very much.
Yet the path to those moments is like a Rube Goldberg contraption full of negotiations, reminders, making/doing/shopping, counting for the umpteenth time how many days it is to Thursday. When I sit here on a Tuesday morning, awash in relief to have a quiet home for just a bit so I can get myself back to stasis, staying up late on a school night two full days from now (Tom in California until then, no less) is daunting. There is so much to do before then, and then there's Friday. Friday is the one day I have some babysitting this week yet now a post-season baseball party has been scheduled during the hours that were to be mine. A quandary to be sure, and I mean that.
Moments like these are when I feel a deep and serious tug: between wanting to appreciate all these moments and wishing for them to ebb a bit. I tire of trying to fit myself in stolen moments in the bathroom, before pick-up, between the hours of 7 and 9pm. I want to be able to just sit for a bit without a devilish calendar on my right shoulder reminding me of what's in five minutes and then ten.