Friday our nanny was still not feeling well, so I headed out from work early to pick up my son at preschool and then my daughter from her after school class. I was so zonked by the time I got both kids home, that I lay down on the couch and floated between consciousness and lack thereof. As I lay on the couch, my kids took turns climbing up and snuggling with me. For my son, this meant climbing on me with sharp elbows and knees and flopping down on my chest for a few moments until he wiggled off to do something else. Each time, he proclaimed, “I snuggle with you!” nice and loudly in my face.
For my daughter this meant finding a spot next to me and leaning her head against my shoulder. She would lean over and whisper in a very breathy and loud way in my ear, “I love you,” before getting so wriggly that I would let her know that her snuggle was over.
I didn’t get a very restful time, but I did get a lot of love.
Imagine resting under a thin sheet as the cool wind blows gently across the room. The light sound of rain on the roof drifts you in and out of wakefulness, birds serenade you as your consciousness slowly gathers its resolve to emerge into wakefulness. Softly, your favorite music starts and grows to a gentle companion as you stretch and slowly get moving. That is a perfect morning in my book, and I have had many like that. A while ago.
Children change the meaning of a perfect morning. If they stay relatively quiet until a decent hour, that is a good start. If I can get them downstairs in relative calm and get clothes on, dirty diapers off, and food in, then we are doing well. If I can crash on the couch only interrupted by dire situations such as not sharing and the sock that just won’t go on the foot, well, it is a good morning. Perfect in this time of my life.
Perhaps some day, I might just get a few of the other kind, too.
These last few days has pushed my own mortality front and center as happens now and then. The death of a staff member at school, my wife’s bruising encounter with a shopping cart (she is recovering well), and meeting with a financial planner who went into life insurance and other topics around our eventual passing all have combined to put that mirror right in front of my face.
There were times in my life when this would throw me. It doesn’t seem to be doing so now, and I think a lot of it has to do with the satisfaction I have at home and at work. I am grateful for the opportunity to have this balance between home and work, and I am grateful to have an amazing wife and children. I hope to be around for quite a while to experience more of this, but I am pretty ok with my mortality.
Upon my arrival in New York, I saw a raspberry bush with deep red, ripe berries. These were on a very long flight of stairs that led from the last train station to the street above. Again, on a walk I passed a long border of raspberries and grapes that had run wild; again, the bushes were bursting with fruit. The ones on our CSA are not yet at this point of growing prolifically and fruiting at this time, but my daughter’s joy at finding berries to eat is magical. Her joy in this echoes the garden of my childhood home where a patch of raspberries featured prominently. I did not love making jam from them, but that jam was one of the jewels of our produce.
Equally magical each summer was the arrival of lightening bugs. Their glowing, starting at ground level and rising to the tree tops as the evening progressed, seemed beyond biological explanation. It was something escaping from the books I read, from the fantasy outside this world. As I walked to dinner after a session at this workshop I am attending, I was greeted by a glowing carpet of lightening bugs. I can’t wait to bring my daughter to my childhood home where she can experience these for herself.
Sleep did some knitting last night. I feel a bit more healed from the journey over the weekend. Perhaps the kids are, too. My daughter seems to be pulling out of her cold, and my son slept through the night with just a few momentary wake ups. Tomorrow, I get to be parent helper, again, at my daughter’s school, and we are scheduled for a play date. Hope sleep finishes the repair job enough to enjoy what really should be enjoyable.
I reach these points, usually after extended illness or sleep deprivation, when I have to refocus on enjoying my children being children. The incessant, loud questions, the screaming in frustration, the things that pierce my brain and wear down my patience are not the sum total of my children. In fact, they represent a small percentage of what they do, so they should be less proportionally represented in my vision of them. It is time to readjust and realign my sight on my children. It is time to focus on the amazing, the cute, the absolute love. It’s also time to sleep.
We have now fallen into the pattern of asking my daughter, “Tell me something good that happened today,” instead of, “What happened today?” She had become very focused on the negative aspects of the day and how that made her feel. With so much negative focus, it seemed that nothing good happened. Both my wife and I model focusing on the positives, and our daughter is more readily coming up with her own positives, too.
It is a culture change at home, and it makes dinner conversation enjoyable.