I went to a parenting group meeting on Tuesday night. It's always a little strange for me to head out somewhere when it's dark outside, and the kids are winding down (or winding up, as the case may be) for bedtime. By the time the meeting was done it was 8:45 at night, and I still needed to stop at the grocery store for toilet paper.
I walked past the bakery section and bought a small personal-sized coconut pie for Scott. It's his birthday week, after all. I also bought a small, personal-sized chocolate cream pie for myself--just because. On my way home I called up Scott. It was 9:20 at that point, and my homing instinct was strong, pulling me back through the dark streets to my house, where my kids were no doubt sleeping, or about to sleep, and the lights would be on, glowing in a warm, inviting way.
"How are the kids?" I asked Scott, right away.
"The baby has been crying for hours!" He told me over the phone, his voice frazzled. We still call T. "the baby"--not to her face, of course, but between us.
My stomach dropped a little and I tightened my hands on the steering wheel. Crying? For hours? What? I felt whooshed back in time, back to the days when my kids did cry for me. For hours, even. When Scott would try and feed T. milk from a bottle and she'd trash and fuss, wanting only milk from me--in person, flesh and blood.
Before I could even answer, Scott laughed. "I'm just joking," he said.
As it turned out, T. conked out at 7:20, and L. was already in his bed, reading under the covers, a book propped up tent-like in front of him.
And I laughed, too, relief, flooding over me. I'm not going to write a poignant, nostalgic piece about how I miss those days, those days when I ached--physically and emotionally--to be back with my babies, when they cried for me, because they wanted to be held and rocked or nursed to sleep. I'm not going to write it because instead of nostalgia I felt relief, and contentment. It felt good to be driving home at night, back to my home lit up from within, back to my kids who--even if they need me for other things--no longer need me so wholly, in such demanding ways.
When I got home I tucked in L., who was almost asleep, and kissed T., who was sleeping with her arms clasped around Kit Kittredge. Scott and I shared our personal pies and watched the Olympics together, and it felt good.
This having older kids business definitely has its perks.