Spring in New England doesn't creep up on you. It arrives with a bang. One day it is fifty degrees and frigid and the next it is in the eighties and sweltering. If you blink, you can miss it. And I often do. Busy with work, carpooling my kids, writing or painting, I glance up and the flowers are suddenly in full bloom, our brown world is a vibrant green, and I have no clue as to when it happened. It is little wonder where the expression 'take time to smell the flowers' came from. It came from our treadmill lives and our inability to stop to appreciate these moments of beauty whether in nature or in our own lives.
My kids are older. My son a week away from his fifteenth birthday and my daughter coming up on her thirteenth in June. Over night, they grew up on me. They are more independent and their friends have replaced me as the nucleus of their world.
I've recaptured my life, becoming involved in my own activities and projects, but I find myself struggling to bridge that gap between being there for my kids and coveting my own time. I will be typing away on my latest WIP, and my daughter wants to share her latest melodrama with me and we both get annoyed. My daughter will then do something so twelve and so sweet that it reminds me that these moments are precious, and I need to stop what I'm doing and savior them. I'm talking about those Kodak moments. When you see your child's first smile, hear their first words, or when they pedal off solo on a two-wheeler.
Being older, my kids moments are more subtle now and sometimes harder to appreciate. Pre-teens and teenagers should wear 'approach with caution labels'. The first time my daughter addressed me with her hand on her hip and that grating tone of attitude, it caught me off guard. My son stares at me and my husband with this blank look on his face while we are discussing his not too stellar Spanish participation grade. My husband said we've become the parents in Peanuts. We speak and my son hears that incomprehensible monotone in the background 'wawowwo...'. These are the Kodak moments you delete.
But there are so many others, and I find myself having to watch for them for fear of losing them. Like when I walk to the car and my daughter skips to it. That is so twelve. Or when she dances around the kitchen showing me the new steps she learned in her hip hop class. Or when I walk into her room and on one closet door she has a picture of the latest teen heart throb but on the other, she has posters of puppies. It illustrates that poignant pre-teen bridge between childhood and puberty, reminding me that she is hovering between the two. I am so not ready for her to cross over.
Of course, moments with a teen-age son can be bitter sweet as well as funny. Like when he advises me that I am no longer allowed to cheer him on at his baseball games unless the other mothers are cheering and to please not get out of my car in the school pick-up line and bellow his name (like I bellow -- it was a soft yell. Really.) Then there are those special moments when I'm trying to write a love scene for my WIP, and he interrupts his social studies homework to share with me the pertinent fact that ancient Chinese scholars grew their nails two inches long to show that they don't do manual labor. Or he breaks into a perfect imitation of Stewie from Family Guy to ask me how my novel is coming. Kind of kills the romantic mood, but it does make me laugh.
Yes, I want to finish my book, or my painting, or go out for a martini with the Quirky Ladies, but I don't want to lose these moments. I want to take the time to smell the flowers before they are all grown and it's too late. In doing so, I might find a wealth of lovely details to incorporate in my WIP.... After all, a good writer is a good observer.
As Ferris Bueller says, 'Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.' Sad, but true.