We were under fluffy blankets and our bodies pushed into plush pillows yesterday afternoon as I read book after book after book. There was a little Dr. Seuss, some Shel Silverstein, the story of Library Lion, and the perennial favorite—H is for Homerun.
From there, we took our gloves, bats and balls to the park. There were pop flies, foul balls, and homeruns. There were fingers digging in the dirt, grounders, and dogs. It was a beautiful day and the sun was warm enough that we shed our jackets into a heap next to the dugout.
I managed to make dinner. I cut broccoli, ginger, onions, and garlic. I made brown rice. I fried tofu. I mixed and measured soy sauce and peanut butter, vinegar and molasses. I even sat at the table for three-point-five minutes as I inhaled the end result. I did all of those things, even though I knew it meant I would have to forgo a shower before dashing out the door for my hour-long drive to San Francisco for class.
Even though we did all those things, I still feel like I’ve failed because I wasn’t home at bedtime. I didn't read those stories at the right time of day. I didn’t pull up the blankets, smooth their hair back and touch my lips to their foreheads. I wasn’t there when they decided which moon phase to set the night light to. I wasn’t there to hear whether baby whale was welcome in bed or to hear C remind me to close the closet door because having it open is scary.
I missed those 20 minutes. Those crucial 20 minutes. And somehow it negates the hours that we spent together. I forget about the weight of R on my left and C on my right. I forget the constant, “Wait, wait, go back,” as one of them flips to the previous page to point out an inconspicuous frog in the illustrations. I forget about the 97 pitches I threw, the 39 balls I chased, the glorious dirt I brushed off of their pants, and the 284 smiles. I forget about the broccoli stalks both boys requested as I cut up dinner.
I missed those 20 minutes.
Classes will be done in May. As the endpoint approaches, the more I’m thinking about what I’ll gain when I’m done—Yes, a Master's degree. But more importantly, I'll get to put my kids to bed four nights a week instead of just two. As the endpoint approaches, I’m even more aware of what they’re missing, what they've missed. And I hope that there will be enough time to make up for all that I'm missing, all that I’ve missed.
I know that I have a lot of time with my kids. Quality time. Maybe because R is turning eight and C is turning five, I'm wondering how much longer I get to kiss them good night. How much longer they’ll sleep with stuffed animals. How much longer they’ll want to snuggle up and read the stories they love, the stories I’ve grown to love. Whatever the answer, it won't be long enough.