Friday, May 27, 2016

Roots and the Lack Thereof

I don't have a strong connection to any given place. Maybe it's because we moved a lot when I was a kid - from house to house and town to town - but I don't have roots. It probably didn't help that I had parents living in different states and family living on other continents. My models of adulthood had made journeys - Germany to America, north to south - as part of growing up or growing wiser.

It literally wasn't until I was an adult that I even realized that some people grow up in one town and then settle down permanently a couple of blocks from where they lived as a kid. Like it never even occurred to me that it was an option for an adult to live in the town or the state or the country where they grew up. I just kind of figured you grew up, you move away. That was what you did.

So when the mister said to me, half jokingly, that we were raising townies I was torn. On one hand, it must be nice for a kid to have that kind of constancy. Same town, same house, same friends. That's what he had, for the most part, growing up in Nevada. On the other hand, I felt weirdly defensive about the idea that my children would have that kind of connection to what is for me just another town. Like no way, dude, our kids will grow up and move to New York City or to Japan or the Australian outback like kids are supposed to when they hit adulthood.

Now it's funny but when I imagine my children as adults they're never living a couple of miles away. They are always at the very least living road tripping distance from wherever I am in this vision. But maybe that makes sense. When we bought this tiny suburban house I said from the get-go that we'd live in it for two decades while we raised kids and then we'd get the hell out of dodge. And when I thought about that just recently it occurred to me that maybe it's not my children who are meant to move to New York City or to Japan or the Australian outback. Maybe it's me.

Because if we stay in this house on this street in this town until my children are grown, they will have roots. They will feel a connection. This place will always be home. I don't have that and the disconnect there is so great that I honestly can't even imagine what it's like to feel like some piece of earth is a part of me and I'm a part of it.

Who knows, though. Maybe given enough time my children will become the roots I never had, anchoring me to this place without my even realizing it. But if they turn out to be wandering hearts like me, expect to find me and the mister in some random spot on the globe - in about 20 years time.


Friday, May 20, 2016

Wanna Play With Me?

When Paloma was very little, she wouldn't ask you to play. Instead, she'd thrust whatever toy would be yours in whatever game she had spun in her head and say, "One for youuuuuu!" It was, in my highly biased opinion, one of the cutest things ever.

Nowadays it's much rarer for Paloma to sidle up to me while I'm sitting at my desk and say, "Wanna play with me?" Hunter is at the exact right age to feel like having a playmate is his right so he doesn't hesitate before saying, "Let's play!" But his big sister has learned that mama has to work and on top of that she's creeping up on the age when playing with a friend or even playing alone is more fun than playing with a parent who needs a guide to play pretend.

I had kind of an emotional moment this morning thinking about how much less frequently I am invited to stop and play. Now I'm not exactly sentimental about the fact that my kids will grow up, way too soon, because that is pretty much the whole point. But I will admit that I did stop and wonder if Paloma, even at the ripe old age of seven, would still be asking me to play if I hadn't said no so much. 

The feeling I'm feeling isn't exactly guilt and it's not exactly regret. The money I make puts food on the table, after all, and having a parent that can only say yes to games sometimes is better than having a parent who always says no because they're too worried about finances to get into the game. And chances are good that it all has much more to do with Paloma's age and her evolving play style and maybe even the fact that we have been spending more time together because I've been making the effort.

In any case, it's strange what you miss. Being asked to play while I'm on deadline or in the middle of a call isn't always pleasant. Having to say no is the worst, especially when the end result is tears and frustration on both sides. I can't go back and change the past but I can put my listening ears on now and really hear it when Paloma and Hunter sidle up and said, "Wanna play with me?" And then I can ask myself - is the deadline that's keeping me from saying yes half an hour from now or tomorrow?

If it's the latter, I need to stop myself from automatically saying no. Sometimes work can wait. 

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