A couple weeks ago Sarah emailed me the link to Julianna W. Miner’s post called The Sweet Spot with the subject “you are here.” The article talks about how the author is at the point in parenthood where things are really good. The kids are young enough to still adore, listen, and need you, yet old enough to not require total attention all of the time (especially for things like sleeping, eating, bathrooms, playing with others or just walking around in general).
Sarah was right. I’m there. I can relate to that. My kids can frolic to the other side of the local swimming hole. We can just get in the car and go without worry about naps, highchairs, beds, cups, toileting accessories or all of the other stuff I’ve already put out of my mind. My kids can stay up late for fireworks without be entirely miserable the next day. If I have a migraine, they will all play quiet, get me a glass of water and read to me. They can all make a sandwich. They take the dog out and feed her and sometimes they even do it without asking. But I can still carry them all, and they still want me to. They readily hold hands when crossing the road, and climb into bed with me and cuddle and cry with that so sad it’s cute face over ridiculously small things.
Yes, I can totally relate to the sweet spot. Today, it started to seem a little bitter sweet when something big happened in our house.
My girls have spent a year and a half of asking, begging, crying, dreaming and praying for this day. Today was the only Christmas present they wanted last year. It’s been on birthday lists. It’s been written about in a first grade phonetically spelled giant ruled school journal. It’s been sketched, diagrammed, described and essayed about in third grade notebooks. It has taken me days of cleaning, moving, shifting, priming and painting, three trips to IKEA, and approximately 18 hours of furniture assembly.
Today my girls got their own rooms.
As the time has gotten closer to it actually happening, the little sister was starting to seem a little anxious about the separation, as the big sister grew more excited. Today we moved the big girl out into her own room and then rearranged the bunk beds and other furniture in the old room to feel like it’s new too. My oldest got new bedding, a bulletin board and a mirror as birthday gifts. The posters, American Girl accessories, stuffed animals, jewelry, books, and Squinkies were all very cordially and fairly divided up this morning. Overnight guests will no longer get to spend the night in our undecorated home office, but will enjoy Lily Lavender walls, glow in the dark ceiling stars and Taylor Swift posters.
The kids played “college” and pretended to move into dorm rooms all day. Signs quickly appeared on doors.
There is still a mess all over the house with displaced furniture and other items, as well as things to do in their rooms, but it’s getting there. And besides the dolls, the bedrooms look like teenagers might live there. They are not baby rooms. They are rooms for the Sweet Spot.
It can be quiet here in the Sweet Spot. It made me a little sad when each kid was in their room contentedly, independently and silently working at their desks this afternoon, instead of screaming over personal space. How long will the Sweet Spot last before they are truly grown up? Will I be glad when they don’t fight over the large square Magnatiles or Squinkie Aquarium or sad because it means that they aren’t playing together?
Bedtime was quiet too. Each girl was put to bed in her own room. After a while the little sister, who I can’t remember the last time she has fallen asleep without the big sister in the bed near her, started coming out of bed with fake excuses while I folded laundry – a tooth ache, then an ear ache, a scrape, and then a head bonk. When I heard sniffles coming from the big sister’s space, I went in and even though she said all was well, I mentioned that no one was in the top bunk, and I would guess no one would mind if she slept there sometimes.
A few minutes later feet pitter pattered back and forth through the hallway until two smiling heads appeared at my door declaring that their separate rooms were for daytime only, and at nighttime they would still be together. I didn’t bring up the time and effort over the past couple weeks of getting the room ready, or the year of whining and begging over wanting separate bedrooms and the listening to the screaming about little sisters kicking top bunks from the bottom while big sisters tried to read or who woke who up in the morning.
Because the Sweet Spot is about it being just right, just where you want to be with all of the safety, love and freedom that that entails. I thought the rooms were a good metaphor for the Sweet Spot. You enjoy your dream room all to yourself, but at the end of the day, you can still drag your blankey, unicorn Pillow Pet and booklight back to the top bunk knowing there is someone on the bottom bunk who has been awake waiting for you.