Friday, March 20, 2015

Growing Older, Growing Younger

When my kids were small, and my work was big, we had full-time (well, five-day-a-week) child care. Each morning, before one or both of us left for work, the doorbell would ring, and a lovely woman who cared for our children and managed our apartment would arrive. In the evening, she left us with clean counters and clean laundry and happy, well-mannered kids with combed hair and clean faces.

My kids are bigger now, and many days, my work is smaller. There hasn't been that early morning doorbell in years. I come home to long-day-weary kids and laundry and counters only as clean (or not) as I left them in the morning. We have learned how to manage mostly on our own, but as we have all grown older, there are times when it feels as though we have actually grown younger. We live in chaos some days, because there is no one to unify the many directions in which we move. We live with chores undone because we are too tired or too lazy or too overwhelmed by just getting through. We do the best we can, not bound by keeping an apartment together enough for a daily visitor and not helped by the keeping together work of that daily visitor. So, while we are all growing older, some days I feel as though I am just starting out, learning how to live on my own, discovering what I can do, and what I can't.

When my kids were smaller and my work was bigger, I felt like a grownup--managing safety and early learning and choices for little people who couldn't do that for themselves. These days, with no daily doorbell, and the participation of my now older kids in all the managing and learning and choices (just not the daily cleaning of rooms and counters!), perhaps I'm not growing older after all. Because some days, it really feels as though we're starting out again, each day taking a few more baby steps, every day growing a little younger.

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