After one solid week as a stay-at-home Aunt to three children, I really haven't come any closer to knowing whether I could hack it as a stay-at-home mom. Seven days is nothing. Even after seven days, Maiken's rendition of "ee-ei-ee-ei-o" is still inspiring and fresh. After seven days, we've barely had enough time to test the limits of just how high Stian can build a lincoln log tower. And after seven days I still haven't even begun to understand Espen's science homework (which I think I was supposed to be helping him with). Now granted, the days were long and started painfully early...but there were only seven of them. Seven days. I could endure mild to moderate torture for seven days if I knew it would only be seven days. And yeah, we spent a lot of time in the car, driving from one thing to another, but I never tired of the genuine excitement elicited when one of us would spot a "twain" or a "pwane". In seven days I didn't have time to get tired of eating Stian's leftovers or making Maiken's bottles or listening to wrong notes on the piano. Prior to this experience I had months without children--time to store up my patience enough so that when Maiken had her face in the dog's water bowl and was drinking its water, it didn't upset as much as it might if it were a regular part of my routine.
But more than merely enduring our time, I think too that there is something restorative about being with children. Maiken and I played peek-a-boo one day for the better part of an hour. I'll admit I had to fake my involvement it at first. Initially when she "hid" under the towel (as pictured above) I used my actor-voice as I went through the script, "Where's Maiken...huh, she was here just a second ago..." and I did my best to act surprised when she emerged from under the towel. But honestly after about ten minutes of the same routine over and over again, I actually started to feel the wonder, surprise and amazement. Where did that girl go??? And why is this dish towel moving? And giggling? And...oh shit! There she is! There is Maiken! She was there all along hiding under that dish towel. That clever girl. With wit and humor like that -that girl is going to go places in life.
Let's not romanticize the experience though. There were times when I lost my temper. When delight was replaced with despondency and joy with anger and frustration. And honestly, on the 8th day I was very ready to return home. I went through the airport tired, unable to converse appropriately with adults and craving raw vegetables (which I hadn't seen in some time). I had my sites set on reading grow-up books, uninterrupted. Sleeping in late. Leaving the house alone and unplanned for long periods of time. Grocery shopping without pushing the double-sized cart with the toy car in front that gives you the turning radius of a Greyhound bus. Ahhh... that's my life. But I miss the kids and I am grateful to have seen the world through their eyes...even if for seven days.