I've pretty much spent the bulk of the last half decade with children, mothering my children (now three and four). And, yeah, I've seen eight or ten movies -- "Shrek 2" among them -- and yeah I've been on my bike a bit, taken a few kid-free hikes, sat around a table talking to adult friends, no kids present, a couple of times -- but, all in all, I've had a limited what they call "life."
We got back not long ago from a vacation with family. My sister-in-law, a woman who works hard and full-time-plus on a career that's pleasing and important to her, spent most of the vacation working on a presentation she was going to make in Japan the next week. I'd watch her face sometimes as she came outside after a stint at the computer: she was outside looking in. She'd find us -- my two kids and her sweet two-year-old -- in the hammock in the midst of some other reality, the hammock a boat, swinging fast on the high seas, the kids fishing off the side or tumbling about from the force of the waves.
Recently, I picked Oliver up from a neighbor who was watching him some mornings this summer while I work, and I was the one with the outsider-looking-in feeling, one state of mind meeting another. This time, I was fresh from the computer and four straight hours of adult productivity. The kids -- and the neighbor who was watching them -- were fresh from playing "Stop, Go" on the paths that criss-cross the rose garden in the park and from making soap bubbles out of rabbit-shaped wands.