One of the things I reticently admit to people - because it makes me seem kind of goth and weird - is that I actually like it when daylight saving time ends in the fall. I've probably said it here before; I like it when it gets dark at 5 p.m. When there's no guilt that we're not spending those hours outdoors, where, inevitably, my children would be trying to kill each other over the one, prized scooter we own, rather than nicely playing with one of the five hundred other little vehicles that are available. I mean, Gabriel INSISTS, nearly every time we go out, "I'm going to take my car," by which he means the Cozy Coupe. "It has eyes," he tells us, and then I envision him driving it down the interstate, which never gets old. But when I actually give him the option to go in his car - on the sidewalk, which is, I guess, less exciting than the prospect of driving it to the grocery store - forget it. He. Wants. THAT. SCOOTER. The one Nora is riding. And although he seems to have learned that yanking people off things that have wheels and are moving is not okay, that doesn't mean he doesn't do it sometimes.
That's not to say we don't have a great time being outside. We do. It's simply to say that, once the weather gets cold and we turn back the clocks, I don't exactly lament the leaving behind of the front doorstep refereeing, when I can be doing that same refereeing inside with no shoes on and a cup of tea.
The truth, though, is that my children are at ages - two and five-years-old - where there is far more playing than there is fighting. Even when there is fighting, Nora would much rather tell on her little brother than fight back, and that's alright with me for now.
Lately, what transpires on the days when I'm home with them are these lovely hours inside, perhaps getting dinner started and waiting for J to arrive, while the children (mostly) play well together, and the sky rapidly darkens, and I often have to check the time because if I'm not careful I'd have us all in bed by 6:15 or so, since the kids wouldn't know any better and I, secretly, would really love to go to bed at 6:15.
I've been trying to make peace with the fact that this isn't the kind of time where I can get anything significant done, like write a novel or redo the whole layout of the house or anything, because - as physically able as he is sometimes - Gabe loves to try dangerous things that don't always work out the way he wants, like try to scale the back of the sofa. I've got to keep an eye on him.
Beyond that, I've started thinking about the way Nora views me. It's not that I'd ever hide doing necessary tasks - like laundry or dishes - from her, to alter that image. But I'm also not sure I want her to see a woman who is afraid of being still; of taking a few moments for herself while her children are at those miraculous ages where they'd rather be with each other than anyone else in the world.
With these things in mind, when I do have a few down moments on these quiet evenings, I sit on the couch and I read. And I think about how incredibly different this time of life is. So very different than a couple of years ago when I'd dread those hours before J got home, alone with the a toddler and a baby and so, to tired (including this one evening where, just for like 30 seconds, I accidentally fell asleep, and everyone lived, don't worry).
I read, and then, inevitably, Gabe comes by with something from the dress-up bin and suggests I "be a mouse" or "be a bear," and I tell him no thanks, and he repeats - always willing to go the distance for what he wants - "MOMMY I WANT YOU TO BE A BEAR!" So I'm a bear for a few moments, before he realizes I'm really weak at being a bear, and returns to his sister. They keep playing, and I keep reading and I rejoice because it is only 4:30, and we are in for the night.