I’ve been aware of something lately, but I haven’t really wanted to acknowledge it—kind of like that moment when you are driving and you see a pedestrian and you realize you’ve committed to not stopping and you don’t want to make eye contact because all things being equal, you’re making an asshole move. Maybe not exactly like that, but still, a shift I’ve been uncomfortable acknowledging.

It’s pretty simple. I want space. I really, really, really want to be able to pee and grab my glasses first thing in the morning. I want enough time to maybe even slip into a pair of socks so that I don’t freeze. I can’t. By the time I swing my feet out of bed two little people are already making their breakfast orders as they cling to my body. Then come the calls:

“You need to change my diaper.”

“You didn’t give me any pants again.”

“Can you button this?”

And of course this is all peppered with yips from the puppy. Rationally I know that I can tell them to wait, that I can set boundaries of when they are allowed to come in our room, guide them to understand how to be self-sufficient in rooting through the dryer for clothing. I have tried to do so at different times, but never with any great consistency. When I allow myself yo acknowledge why, it’s this, once they get it the cacophony will change. Like Santa or the tooth fairy, crawling into our bed will become something that isn’t real to them anymore.

Lanky girls are going to slam cabinets and rustle through drawers to find what they want. I’ll be seeking them out and not the other way around. Of course I know this is a bit of an exaggeration, at least for the next few years. It’s just that in the same way I want to preserve their childhood, I want to preserve my participation in it. I feel shame when I don’t want to be with them, when I just want a break.

It feels wrong to me that when I see a picture of a banged up, dark green Citroën on a cobble stone street I feel pangs of lust, wishing I could go with Sean. My wanderlust roams to times when packing for others wasn’t a requirement, when our biggest logistical detail was hiking boots or flip flops. I long to watch the morning news with my coffee in hand and not fear having the scalding liquid sloshed on my bare legs, not worry that someone is going to ask what rape or murder means.

Suppressing these feelings is often possible because I do delight in romping through the snow with the girls or sprawling out on the floor and building sweeping empires of blocks, complete with garishly styled Barbies holding court. The problem is that more and more I want there to be time in between the playing, tending, teaching and bathing. I am tormented by wanting to speak up, to explain to them that I need time, but feeling as if it is inappropriate. Is there a difference between creating a healthy future template for them as women and maybe moms and just being selfish?

I watch Briar going through the same thing. She wants privacy as she dresses, wants to be able to schedule her time, go at her own pace and assert her independence. She also wants bedtime cuddles, help tying her shoes and to have things done for her. Yesterday she stepped off the bus with a smile that could melt snow. She bounded toward me and gushed, “Do you want to know why I am smiling like this?” I smiled and nodded. The answer involved Valentine’s Day, a “kiss on the lips” and some other things I couldn’t process.

I wish there was a way to bypass this moment in time of being aware as I go through this natural progression of distancing myself from the role of sole source of food, comfort and entertainment. Their fledging, my mortality and the closing of a chapter, albeit with beautiful new pages to be written ahead, is killing me one, “Not right now” at a time.