A family in our town is burying two of its children this morning. You probably heard about it; it made the national news, two kids electrocuted in the water by their dock. We didn’t know about it until we came home on Sunday–we spent last week on Mackinac Island with family, and the only news we had was the New York Times digest they slid under our door every morning.
When you’re on vacation, you don’t bicker the way you do in real life. I mean, there’s some of it, but the worst fights we had were the ones about getting kids to get dressed already! Mom and Dad are focused in on family time, and without the usual responsibilities of cooking, cleaning and deadlines, we simply enjoyed being with our family with much more purity than we reach in regular life. And it made me realize how much I needed to adjust the way I live at home.
Life with Nicholas, in particular, has been locked horns. Everything is a battle. Everything. I blame the age and grit my teeth, waiting for it to pass into the blissful age of preschool, knowing there ought to be some way for my behavior to mold his, but unable to find it.
It was Christian who (unknowingly) got me started on the right track. The older two were at the Grand Hotel‘s children’s program one night, and after a somewhat disastrous dinner, my father-in-law had taken a group of grandkids, including Nicholas, for a walk. We couldn’t find them, and Christian was gnashing his teeth. “I wanted to take a walk down to the horse-and-carriage rental place with him,” he said. “Michael’s asleep, I thought we could spend some focused time on him for a change!”
The words pierced deep. I realized that is what Nicholas has never gotten from me since Michael came along: time. It’s time he needs from me.
He didn’t get it that night, because it took us until 9p.m. to locate our child with his grandfather. But I came home with a fresh determination to make sure Nicholas doesn’t get waved aside in the interest of my oh-so-important, uh, Facebook status updates. Or even in the name of housecleaning or deadlines. And I had a moment with Nicholas and Michael on the kitchen floor yesterday–Nicholas playing horsey ride on my stomach, and Michael slobbering happily all over my face, amused by the fact that he was taller than Mommy. Bliss. Very wet, slimy bliss. But bliss nonetheless.
Honestly, day one back home was tougher than I expected. I must discipline myself to confine computer time to specific intervals, and not have it as a dull background presence in my consciousness. There’s always something to check–recipes, etc. And the kids were back to their usual bickering.
But yesterday, when I found my frustration level ratcheting upward, the thought of that family burying their children chopped the legs out from beneath it. What wouldn’t those parents give to be me today? I promise myself now, and every hour today, that I will be grateful for the gift of my children. I will take time to live in the moment with them, to meet their eyes, to revel in the softness of their skin, and to make each of them–but especially Nicholas–feel like they are the most important thing in the world to me.
Because after all, they are.
I just can’t stand blogging only 3x a week. I can’t stand it. So here’s my compromise: Tuesdays are for free-writing with Just Write at The Extraordinary Ordinary; stream-of-consciousness, little editing, get-my-thoughts-out-there in half an hour or less. And for now, I’ll still take Thursday off.