Sunday, August 27, 2017

the end of a summer

We are nearing the end of summer break.  I have spent 15 weeks with my two sidekicks- we have one day remaining.  The end of the summer with kids has me all kinds of emotional- joyous, for sure, and nervous, and a little sad.  Did we have enough fun?  Will they remember the fun, or just the time outs?

I remember dropping Arthur off for his first day of preschool and thinking "What in the world is he going to be doing without me for FOUR WHOLE HOURS??!"  And now I'm staring down the day where I will drop him off for his first day of public school and I'm already thinking "What in the world is he going to be doing without me for SEVEN WHOLE HOURS??!"  What if he gets lost?  What if he gets hurt?  What if he speaks so quietly no one can hear him and doesn't make any friends?


Steve's mom flew in for a visit last week.  The kids and I headed to the airport to pick her up and on the way home, I blanked on the directions.  This always happens, and I always feel awkward with guests in the car and all, on my way to my own home, having trouble with directions.  I blame the person who invented belt loops- how can you know which way to go when the direction is always changing?!?

I stalled a bit, driving slower, thinking to myself, "Inner loop.... towards Columbia.... outer loop....".
From the backseat came a helpful, "It's the second one, Mom."  I acted nonchalant and took the second exit while chatting with Steve's mom, hoping he was right.

It was the second one.


We took an end of summer trip to the mountains last weekend and rode carnival rides and fed goats and ate all the barbecue we could hold.  We discovered that there were one or two rides that the kids were now tall enough to ride by themselves- no dad necessary. (Because obviously, I am not riding anything.)  We stood near them as they stood in line, holding hands, and then burst through the gate to get the best seat.  We watched as the attendant put the bar down over their little laps and I had to pull myself away from panic every time: they will not fly out, they will not fly out, they will not fly out.

They did not fly out.


The three of us had a large pile of laundry to sort and fold and I had promised a little more play time before nap if we could get it done quickly.  Arthur set to work, systematically folding napkins and towels.  I assigned Helen to the socks and got to work on shorts and shirts.  Helen moaned and complained, Helen stepped on Arthur's pile of perfectly folded napkins and knocked them over, Helen rolled around on the floor and accidentally kicked Arthur in the back three times.  I reminded Helen about the socks, reminded her that we all wanted to play.  She stuck out her tongue.  She ran out of the room, careening into Arthur and knocking him over.

She's only five.  She came back when we were done and she was sorry.  She wanted to play.  The thirty-seven year old in the group was out of patience and not impressed by sorry and basically told her she'd made her bed and would have to lie in it (but you know, in a slightly nicer, mom way).  The six year old in the group said, "I forgive you, Helen.  Can you put these napkins away for me?  That would be helping.  I bet we could play for just a minute if you help with this last little bit, right Mom?"

The most humbling, and also rewarding, part of being a parent has to be when your child outdoes you in grace and kindness.

And it hit me, like it has before, that he is more ready than I am.  The nerves, the fears, the wanting to hang on just a bit longer- it's all me.  I am the one on the side of the pool waving a float while he swims clear across to the deep end.  Sure he still needs help reaching the cups, but he knows how to extend grace.  He can't figure out how to turn his clothes right side out for the laundry, but he can navigate his way around town, or, presumably, an elementary school.  He wants a hug and a band aid when he skins his elbow, but he is the bravest kid I know (aside from his sister, of course).

So here's to all the little super heroes who are headed back to school, and to all the parents who will mark the hours until their capes come flapping back through the door.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

not the same

Just over one year ago, I wandered around this same house, tidying up and making piles of things to pack.  I made lists and sent emails, ensuring things would run smoothly while we were gone because I was, and still am, ultra organized.  I sewed bow ties and packed up orders, just like I do now.  We played outside with our same neighbors every afternoon and I made most of the same soups that I am still making this winter.

We crossed the ocean and picked up our girl and within an hour of having her in our hotel room with us, the only thought pounding louder in my head than "we were so unprepared for this" was "I will never be the same".

I think about it a lot, actually, because most everything is still the same.  Same house, same yard, same food, same school, same church.  Same friends, same family, same jobs. But I am not the same.

Every year for Mother's Day, Arthur's school has the kids fill out a questionnaire about their mom.  It is one of my very favorite things.  In 2015, Arthur listed my age as 15.  In 2016, he listed it as 20. I think this is a fairly accurate way to sum things up- if ever there was a year in which I feel like I've aged five, it has been this one. 

Our once quiet and orderly household has become…much less quiet and orderly.  It’s not worse.  It’s just not the same.  Tasks that used to be simple to complete now feel like great accomplishments- everyone has brushed their teeth and put on socks?!?! How wonderful!!!  Somebody is often crying, or bleeding, or both.  Usually both. 

We soldier on.  Our family has expanded and we have all felt the growing pains, but they’ve made us stand taller.  I am more patient and, I hope, more compassionate.  When I see a mom at Target holding a large coffee and giving her child a bag of chips, just so she can have a moment to pick out the food she is going to cook for dinner, I think to myself "we're all just doing the best we can" and give her a mental hug.  I have become someone who assumes the best of people because I certainly hope people are assuming the best of me when they see us out and about. 

The challenging year has caused Steve and I to lean on each other in a way we may not have had to otherwise.  There are many times when I feel like nobody else could possibly understand what it is like to parent in our specific situation and then I remember- Steve does.  He knows it all, deals with it all, eats chocolate and does yoga with me after bedtime to handle it all.  His consistent nature and endless patience make me want to marry him over and over again, just because I am reminded anew of what a fantastic idea that was. 

And then there’s Arthur.  We began last year with a lot of door slamming.  Arthur was desperate to keep his new sister out of his room, his toys, his everything.  And nobody blamed him.  But he has changed too.  Arthur has always been an amazing kid and now he has become an amazing brother as well.  He asks to bring Helen on school field trips.  He wants to wake her from nap, just to play with him.  Today he got a bag of ten Hershey’s kisses from a party at school.  As soon as he got home he made a beeline for the baggie drawer and carefully counted out five.  And I blinked back tears as he handed them over to Helen, saying “Here, Helen!  Your own bag!”  That’s who he has become- a kid who enjoys everything more when he shares it with his sister. 

Obviously, Helen is not the same either.  She is learning what it means to be in a family.  She is learning English and American social customs.  The other night during bath, she noticed a scratch on her belly and she said, “Oh no!  Precious girl!”, repeating what we often call her.  And I think that is the change in her- she is now someone’s precious girl, which of course changes everything.    

We are not the same.  And although I couldn’t imagine it yet when I first had that thought, I would say that now we are better than ever. 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Pin It button on image hover