I'm sitting at my computer, trying to think, but I'm distracted by the thumping of little feet upstairs.
They are playing some kind of game with their stuffed animals; elaborate skits that involve music and role-playing and can go on for hours.
I can't make out their words, but I can hear Greta's lilting voice, and Finn's lower, scratchier one (is it me, or is it already getting a little deeper?) as they laugh and argue good-naturedly about the rules of the game.
I didn't expect this.
I didn't expect that at almost 10 and almost 7 they would still play with stuffed animals, that they would still enjoy each other's company so much. I know I'm lucky; I know not all 10 and 7 years old get along like mine do. That's not bragging, because it has nothing to do with me. It's all them, and their sweet souls.
There are changes in the air, though. A twinge of cool air in the evening, sometimes even carrying that distinctive smell of autumn. Some leaves are changing (changing!) in patches, and some are starting to fall to the ground.
There are other changes, too. As Greta approaches tween-hood, there is more eye rolling, more "Finn! Leave me alone!", more bursting into tears for no reason. It's coming, I know it is, and so I'm wallowing in the mostly-sweet of the way things are right now. I try to stay in the moment - OH, I try - but a little voice in my brain whispers - is this the last sweet summer? Is this the last summer of stuffed animals?
Finn starts first grade, and so for the first time in ten years both my kids will be gone full time - all day, every day, at school.
I spent so many years longing for this day; mired down in diapers or whiny kids who couldn't speak well enough to articulate what they wanted. Days when I couldn't just go to the gym, or visit with a friend, because my schedule was irrevocably intertwined with theirs.
Now that day is only a couple of weeks away, and I'm surprised by how my gut twists at the thought of them both being away for so long, every week.
I wasn't expecting this.
Again, I try to stay in the moment, not project, not have too many expectations, but I have to acknowledge that twisting. I'm not great with a lot of unstructured time. My inclination is to start my plan for world domination - make HUGE plans, turn my jewelry business into something big, write that novel, get a full-time job - all to run from too many hours alone with me.
Instead, I'm going to try what I'm thinking of as mini-structure, and it's all about self-care, self-love, and peace of mind. I'm six months past cancer - I have to keep reminding myself of that - and I need to take this time to take care of me.
Each morning I will do some form of exercise. Not in that over-the-top-train-for-a-marathon-hate-myself-if-I-don't-workout kind of way, but in a move-your-body-Ellie kind of way. Yoga. A walk in the woods. A trip to the gym. Low-key, gradual, simple.
Every day I'm going to make jewelry just for the sake of making jewelry, not because I need to make thousands of dollars immediately. I'm going to resist the urge to learn metal-smithing (something I really want to do) just for a while.
I'm going to meditate. Even if can't quiet my mind, I'm going to sit, with no noise, for a while each day.
I'm going to read for at least half an hour. Every day - right smack dab in the middle of the day. Force myself to stop and just read.
I'm going to take time to write - offline, in a notebook - start that journal up again.
I'm going to go to daytime recovery meetings.
The day will come (who knows when, maybe sooner than I think) when I have to either ramp up the jewelry business or get a job. But not right now, not yet.
I'm going to spend some time with me, who - in the past - has been my least favorite person to hang around with. I'm going to acknowledge that twist in my gut that will miss my kids.
I know I'll adjust. I know it will take time. I'm glad that the deepest part of me doesn't want them to go.