Recently we entered the age of indentured servitude, followed quickly by put the youngest to bed and babysit yourselves.
The evidence is clear; a new era of child rearing is upon us, and we are exploring the contours of the terrain.
Since toilet training, Sacha is marginally less insane, enough that I can leave him in Sarah's care for short periods of time. This means that I now have the luxury of stopping at the market, or doing a carpool run unencumbered.
With this small change, the accumulated pedestrian acts that strung together, form my days, have been transformed into something remarkable.
My children have been in school long enough that having time to myself is not unusual. Yet time to myself while they are home alone is something else entirely. It feels slightly transgressive to leave them on their own, with no qualified child care professional in sight, and stranger still that no money changes hands upon my return. I find it so thrilling that it takes great restraint to keep from approaching strangers in the market and whispering conspiratorially that I have three children, and none of them are with me.
When my children were tiny, I imagined that doing anything without them in tow would be akin to phantom limb syndrome, my heart aching with the pang of their absence. Instead I feel an insatiable longing to make up for ten years of lost alone time.
Lest I become concerned that my behavior is cause for concern about the depth of my maternal attachment, I take comfort in knowing that my children also delight in their independence. They beg to be left alone, and I am impressed with their maturity. Last week, as I left to take Sacha to karate I reminded Sarah and Gabriel that they would need to practice their instruments before the end of the day. I returned home to find Sarah strumming her guitar, and Gabriel playing piano, and my heart swelled to burst.
Never one to be left behind, Sacha now asks me if he can stay home alone rather than run errands with me. I do my best to keep a straight face while saying no. There is a fine line between responsibility and recklessness, and tempting as it is, I try to stay well away from the edge.
This new found freedom is so completely intoxicating, and dangerously addictive. It's a bit like love sickness, a temporary state of madness spurred by a radical shift to more free time. And so I ration myself, lest I wind up believing that it is not too soon to teach Sarah to drive.