The sound of sunshine coming down

It’s happening.  I sit in the silence of my orderly if not clean house, showered, the dishes done, the laundry humming a floor beneath my feet.  Late afternoon sunlight makes prairie-pattern squares on the hardwoods and my papers sit in neat, unmolested piles on the dining room table. I can hear the house.  I can hear my thoughts.  I can hear the sound of sweet, spring sunshine warming the maples outside, waking them.

The wise ones who know these things call early motherhood “the trenches.”  Oh well, you’re still in the trenches, they say.  Sometime in the last four months, the shells stopped falling and I scrambled up the muddy bank to take a look around.  The damage isn’t too bad.  Like a shell-shocked soldier, I almost don’t know what to do.  There’s too much space.  Too much time.  I stand frozen in my new freedom, wondering when I’ll have to duck for cover.

The three oldest are registered for full-time school next fall.  The “baby” will be gone three mornings a week.

My New Year’s resolution was to do my hair.  Blow it dry and straight every time I wash it instead of sticking it up in a bun to dry frizzy and awkward and unmanageable.  I stood in our perfect new bathroom a few mornings ago, running late, but determined.  The hair dryer buzzed like a demented horsefly, drowning out the sound of my children destroying their bedroom and not getting dressed on schedule.  Hands raised to run my fingers through my hair, I caught the reflections of Saige and Nate standing in the doorway.  They held hands, waiting patiently for my attention.  Saige smiled widely into the sudden peace of the silenced dryer.

“We’re dressed,” she said and waited quietly brimming with pride.

“Who dressed Nate?” I met her eyes in the mirror.

“Saige!” Nate chortled out the secret that they had brewed between them.  He hovers at the line between toddler and little boy. His new buzz cut screams preschooler but his chubby hands and diapered bottom still soften the edges.

“Wow.  That’s amazing.  But we need to change your diaper, huh?”

“No,” Saige said. “I changed it.  I can help. I can do chores.”

I ran my finger around the waist of the diaper, checked the tabs, buying time to adjust my equilibrium as the space around me expanded again.  Air whistled in my ears.  Stars and galaxy whirled past my cheeks.  The universe really is expanding constantly. I can feel it happening.  The me slowly fills the gaps where it was all them before.

“Perfect,” I told her.  “That is so awesome.  Thank you.”  They skipped away to find breakfast and I turned the dryer on.

One minute the bombs fell and I reinforced trench walls as fast as I could dig and the next minute they’d stopped.  A small and ever expanding part of my time is again mine.  I don’t know what I’ll do with it yet.   For now, it’s enough to bask in it.  It sounds like sunshine.  It smells like time passing, rife with the salty tang of the sea.  It feels like the laugh lines in the corner of my mouth when I smile. It hurts like laughter through tears, but it’s only growing pains.

Their growing.  My pains.

*Title credit goes to Michael Franti and Spearhead.

51 Responses to The sound of sunshine coming down
  1. Krista
    April 10, 2012 | 10:34 am

    “It hurts like laughter through tears.” Oh, how I love that.

  2. Leanne
    April 10, 2012 | 11:33 am

    Everything has the reason why it happens, I’m so sad for what happened with you but always remember that life is a matter of unexpected things and it helps us to become a great person…

  3. Carol
    April 10, 2012 | 1:22 pm

    Don’t ask God why this is happening to you instead ask where this event leads you

  4. tracy@sellabitmum
    April 10, 2012 | 1:25 pm

    I love this. All time is so precious.

  5. annabelle
    April 10, 2012 | 2:33 pm

    Laughter thru tears – that’s perfect as I sit here crying.
    Wasn’t it just yesterday that Ess couldn’t swing at the park
    for lack of obedience? Wow! Tell her how proud she makes us!

    • Giuseppe
      November 17, 2012 | 8:57 pm

      U.S.A. girl Posted on Jack ClipsJAC (jack and cuts) its cool cuz it sounds like ur nameKewl Clips by JackLawn Care PlusOMG this is hard, name it after me-Maggies Magic Lawn!

    • Giuseppe
      November 17, 2012 | 8:57 pm

      U.S.A. girl Posted on Jack ClipsJAC (jack and cuts) its cool cuz it sounds like ur nameKewl Clips by JackLawn Care PlusOMG this is hard, name it after me-Maggies Magic Lawn!

  6. Christine
    April 10, 2012 | 2:34 pm

    Oh, that’s lovely.

  7. Sandra92
    April 10, 2012 | 3:35 pm

    Truly inspiring story, many things are yet done but we need to prepare our self in this matter…

  8. meekasmommy
    April 10, 2012 | 3:46 pm

    “Their growing. My pains.”

    Thanks for another beautifully eloquent post that perfectly captures the emotions of parenting…

  9. Wendi
    April 10, 2012 | 4:14 pm

    Wow, Stacy. I hope you’re reading this in the show??

  10. Adventures In Babywearing
    April 10, 2012 | 4:14 pm

    Oh, the parallels. I, too, have been “doing” my hair- even flat ironing it most mornings and it’s amazing what that can do to a psyche. And the growing of the kids. This is my favorite part, the unfolding of it all. xoxo

    Steph

  11. twobusy
    April 10, 2012 | 4:27 pm

    Welcome to life during peacetime.

    Long may it last.

  12. Rebecca
    April 10, 2012 | 4:38 pm

    I sit at gymnastics for my youngest, who is eight, with watery eyes. I also have an 18 year old about to graduate high school, and a high school freshman. You always say what I feel so much better than I ever could. hold on to these times, before you know it you’ll be the mother of one less at home then another and another and finally an only child left at home. Bittersweet!

  13. Gayle
    April 10, 2012 | 4:47 pm

    “I don’t know what I’ll do with it yet.”…. well, if you are lucky you’ll get to enjoy they time. If you are me you will spend the next upteen years being called down to the school with a delinquent child!! LOL

    Don’t waste a minute… it may not last!! Have some fun.

  14. Bu
    April 10, 2012 | 4:50 pm

    Beautiful. I see them growing up and I’m not sure what to do. I revel in the beauty of it but a tiny part of my heart breaks. But I’d like to think the breaking is just making room for something new.

  15. Catherine
    April 10, 2012 | 5:01 pm

    So beautifully said! My life was full of lovely pockets of time, because my son is in first grade and pretty independent. Then we had another baby– who is 8 months old and I’m still reeling from the shock of returning to mom-of-baby time. Which is, roughly translated, no time at all. He’s sleeping on my lap at this very moment, while I look around at everything I need to do and sigh. The difference is, this time I really get how temporary this baby time is. So I’m trying to savor it & not worry myself to death.

  16. Lucia
    April 10, 2012 | 5:16 pm

    Oh yes, I feel this!

  17. Carinn @welcometothemotherhood
    April 10, 2012 | 5:21 pm

    You are a beautiful writer.

  18. jen
    April 10, 2012 | 5:24 pm

    can you grab my hand, friend? i’m still in the trenches.
    oh. wait.
    that’s the point, huh? you’re in. & then someday (on your own. you’re out.)
    & it’s relatively bittersweet, I see. but the coffee is drink hot. & the wine is drunk cold. I could use a few of those minutes.

  19. Roshni
    April 10, 2012 | 7:23 pm

    it’s true! I’m so enjoying the awesome amount of time I now have in my hands but panicking that I am no longer needed!!

    • Pgoodness
      April 10, 2012 | 8:36 pm

      Lovely and perfect. Such a strange feeling, those pockets of time.

  20. Candice@NotesFromABroad
    April 10, 2012 | 7:40 pm

    Exactly, “their growing, your pains” …
    I want to give Saige the biggest hugs and kisses ..

  21. Issa
    April 10, 2012 | 8:25 pm

    Beautiful friend. Just beautiful. I am there with you…in this moment at least.

    I remember thinking I’d never get here. When you are so entrenched in it, it does seem long and forever-ish. Then suddenly it doesn’t.

    This post could be read in LTYM. Truly. It’s that wonderful.

    Okay back to hell…I mean work. Hugs to you friend.

  22. Amelia
    April 10, 2012 | 8:49 pm

    Saige made me cry. Well, your words about her did. Such a beautiful family.

  23. EarnestGirl
    April 10, 2012 | 11:29 pm

    This is absolutely beautiful – both the writing and the feelings & truths you manage to capture in the filament of your words.

  24. Lisa/MommyMo
    April 11, 2012 | 1:36 am

    Some days I’m still in the trenches and others, I have one foot out. Today, my whole body was IN the trench and it wasn’t because of the youngest- ha! There is so much beauty in your words, Stacey.

  25. the mama bird diaries
    April 11, 2012 | 3:42 am

    This post is insanely beautiful. I love it. My favorite line, “The me slowly fills the gaps where it was all them before”

  26. Upstatemamma
    April 11, 2012 | 4:29 am

    I can’t imagine what it would be like to have free time. :) Enjoy it.

  27. Sharon
    April 11, 2012 | 10:08 am

    All time is fleeting. I think as mom’s, we know that this too will pass, for better; and this too will pass leaving us wistful and wanting, grieving yet another stage of life.

    Oh this small bit of precious free time! I have 2 mornings free this school year, I had grand notions of pedicures, hair appointments, blah blah blah… Many days the time is gone before I feel like it has begun, other days are a bit longer. Twice I have totally, completely lost time at Target!!! ( One of those times I had an utter and complete mom-fail not hearing my phone buzzing repeatedly that my 1st grader had a fever and needed his momma, thank God for the list of who to call that is more responsible than mother…)

  28. Della Williams
    April 11, 2012 | 12:29 pm

    Finally! You are getting what every mother desires. Peace.

  29. Laura Wright @ The ODD Mom
    April 11, 2012 | 4:49 pm

    Amazing, isn’t it, how it happens when you’re not looking? One minute they’re into everything and you wish they’d just grow up, and the next they’re growing up and you wish they’d just stop. Beautifully written.

  30. Leanne
    April 11, 2012 | 5:59 pm

    What a lovely story, how I wish everything goes beyond a beautiful creation…

  31. Lady Jennie
    April 11, 2012 | 7:46 pm

    Wow. This is powerful – comparing life to the trenches. So why do I still feel like I’m in the trenches when my children are in school every day except Wed and weekends from 8:30 to 4:30? Why do I still feel like I never have enough time.

    aaarrrrgh!

  32. Jessica
    April 11, 2012 | 7:58 pm

    My young children are very close in age as yours are and someone said to me recently that, as hard as it is now, one minute they will all be climbing the walls and then within a year of each other they will all be moving out. She made me feel like I want to freeze time. Of course I would like a few quiet moments but not too many.
    Beautiful post.

  33. Galit Breen
    April 11, 2012 | 7:59 pm

    I’m here, too.

    (I whisper that, because I’m not quite sure how I feel about it yet.)

    This is beautiful, as always.

  34. Alexandra
    April 12, 2012 | 12:47 am

    Your words here, as delicious as a croissant on Sunday morning.

    Thank you.

  35. Alexandra
    April 12, 2012 | 12:48 am

    And I”m with Wendi, PERFECT for a LTYMshow.

    Won’t be a woman in the audience who can’t relate.

  36. Ann
    April 12, 2012 | 12:58 am

    “Their growing. My pains.”

    Stunning.

  37. Leah
    April 12, 2012 | 2:47 pm

    they really do grow up. Weren’t those 2 days of 70 degree’s AMAZING!!!!!!

  38. Elaine
    April 12, 2012 | 4:29 pm

    Your writing takes me away, Stacey, even when you are writing about motherhood. I can SEE those maples waking and you poking your head out of the “trenches”. It’s all so perfect and true.

    And on the growing, it’s so very bittersweet.

    xo

  39. Kate
    April 14, 2012 | 3:59 am

    I love seeing the self-sufficiency grow. But maybe it’s because I saw daylight, but headed back into the trenches. I’m not sure how I’ll feel about ever increasing time alone.

  40. Jeanne
    April 16, 2012 | 11:08 pm

    You make me cry practically every time I come here.

  41. Louise
    April 17, 2012 | 1:12 am

    it’s like you take the words that clunck around in my over-crowded head and you turn them into a beautiful song or a piece of poetry. i have also begin to see the sunlight peeking through the clouds and it’s such an accomplishment to have brought us all here.

  42. Bittersweet | The Ivey League
    April 21, 2012 | 2:23 pm

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  43. MommyNamedApril
    April 23, 2012 | 3:34 am

    “their growing, my pains”

    yes. this.

  44. tracey
    April 24, 2012 | 2:21 am

    And now you know the definition of “bittersweet”. It sucks and rocks, doesn’t it?

  45. Jill
    April 24, 2012 | 2:20 pm

    I remember reading this almost two weeks ago and tearing up … at your reference to “the baby”. Of course in my haste of not commenting back then due to life … time got in the way of knowing what to say.

    My Matt keeps telling me that I’ve got to stop calling mine, “the baby” … but like you, he’ll always be my baby.

    So lovely. So true. So glad to be back here and soak up the beauty of your words!

  46. Florence18Moore
    May 1, 2012 | 5:05 am

    This is lovely great post, I do love to pin it with my friends…

  47. Jenkins
    May 15, 2012 | 1:28 pm

    Everything has a reason and God is always there to guide us to make things possible.

  48. […] pull a post out of a hat and it would be exceptional. I mean, let’s just take, for instance, this one. You see what I mean, don’t you? I read every single thing she writes and I love every […]

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