I draw the blinds at the window that looks out onto the grassy oval in front of my home. The picture is idyllic. The sun is out, there seems to be a mild breeze. Sounds of laughter and birdsong filter in through the cold glass of the window. The alarm on my phone goes off reminding me that the kids will be home in 15 minutes.
I walk to the kitchen and brew a cup of coffee for myself and check my phone. “Homework – Play Outside” reads the subject of the only email that downloads. A smile that has been making its way through my body bursts open like the sunshine outside.
I spend the next three quarters of an hour getting the kids ready. Shooing them out, I rush to grab the keys and head out. A gust of wind proves how underdressed for the weather we are. I troop inside gathering my brood with me. We spend the next 10 minutes layering up and head out again. A minute passes and Ammu falls off her scooter and scrapes her knee. Wails resound and we walk back.
I resolve to go on that walk. Kissing away boo-boos and pasting a Disney character bandaid on her knee, we walk out again for the third time. The sun is lower on the horizon. The idyll I had pictured seems to have vaporized. It is too cold, the kids are listless. We plough on for about 15 minutes before we walk back inside.
Disappointment bubbles in a low simmer at the pit of my stomach. Should have stayed inside mutters a mutinous voice inside of me.
I imagine the alternative. We would have had snacks, the kids would have played on the stairs or in the basement. Laddu and I would have lain on the sofa as she sat on my giggly tummy pretending it was a trampoline. I sigh for the hour that could have been.
I set out coloring books and crayons and the twins work on their complicated faerie patterns. Laddu is content to sit with her doodle board by my feet. I get started on washing dishes looking out at my yard as I do.
It comes to me that this evening is symptomatic of my life. I have idyllic pictures in my mind of the things I want to do when we are empty nesters. I have ideas of the kind of evenings, weekends and summers we will have when the kids are older, when they are independent. I realize the idealism is in my head. The reality could be vastly different. By shelving those adventures for later, time is slipping past. The idyll of today is lost in my pursuit of tomorrows.
The dishes are done, the sink empty. The sun is behind the trees. The sky is a riot of purple and orange. I am tempted to reach for my phone camera. Instead I pause, lingering to imprint the here and now in the recesses of my brain.