Photo: One of my favorite pictures. The babies loom so large in my world: they are everything that I do and think about sometimes. Yet, they are so small while the world is just so large. This photo reminds me of the “true scale” of the two little boys who eat up my days.
The two little bears are taking a bath, and I’m sitting, aching, in my office chair, listening to them splash and fight. The husband is doing his evening heroics, allowing the boys to play but also keeping them from hurting each other. He patiently goes through the routine of bathing them and brushing their teeth, putting them in their pajamas and reading them their three books.
And this is my first moment since seven in the morning that I have had a moment to relax. I usually have a first cup of coffee before getting the boys out of bed, but this was an unusual Friday morning. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say that there were inspectors and a utility guy and even a (spectacularly handsome) fire marshal in my house today. All just to sign off on the house and the work we’ve had done. After all of the people left, the work of cleaning the house had to begin. Because, as I’ve written so many times already, my in-laws are arriving tomorrow. So I want to make sure the house is spotless. It’s an impossible task, and I should let that woman get into my head like this… but here we are.
And that is why is lower back threatens mutiny while my shoulders and neck sing their own battle hymns.
I wish I could say that I’ll be able to relax tomorrow. It’s off to the races as soon as I get up, as I have a bathroom to scrub and three rugs to vacuum before breakfast. Then I’ll be out the door, first to the grocery store, then to the local bakery, and finally (and absolutely) to the liquor store. My menu is bolognese with homemade pasta, garlic bread and a spring mix salad tomorrow. For Sunday, I’ll be making baking cinnamon buns for breakfast and then making that honey-glazed fried chicken for dinner. You’re probably thinking, “if you hate them so much, why do you do all that cooking for them?” Well, the cooking keeps me in the kitchen and busy, with a face full of concentration. No one wants to come talk to me or “be a bother” because I’m so busy trying to prepare a meal. So people stay out of the way, I do something that I like to do, I get to show off a little bit, and then I get to eat well afterwards. I win. They think they win, but I am really the one who wins.
The boys are out of their bath, and Ursa Major has asked to see the moon. He has been noticing the moon for a while, but this week, he noticed the sun, too. This is of interest, because we haven’t seen much of the sun lately, so for him to take the time to notice it yesterday and remark on it was interesting to me.
“I see the sun! Hello, Sun!” Ursa Major stated gleefully when I pulled open the curtains. I hadn’t noticed, but he had stopped to ponder while I was taking Ursa Minor out of his crib. While I was wrestling with my youngest, my eldest had considered something important. “Uh, Mommy? Mommy, the sun is…. It’s not where it is….uh….the sun isn’t where it, uh…..was,”
I wasn’t paying attention. Sometimes Ursa Major just rambles gibberish. “What, baby?”
“The sun. It’s over there, but….but that’s not where it was. It was somewhere else, before.”
“Uh huh. The sun moves. That’s what the sun does, baby.” My morning-mom-brain had given way to my former-teacher-brain. “Where do you remember seeing it before?”
“I think I saw it by the trains. In the train room.”
I had finished changing Ursa Minor’s diaper and had put him down. I approached Ursa Major now, to release him from the crib and change him. I wish that I could describe his face, scrunched in such serious thought (and looking so much like his father). “So you saw it by the trains. Where is it now?”
“It’s over there,” He pointed out the window, where the sun was peeking through the trees of my neighbor’s yard.
And then he asked the best question ever: “But, uh, Mommy? I don’t understand…uh….how did it get over there?”
It was such a great little moment for me. I’m sure that I smiled from ear to ear. “Well….”
I didn’t blow his mind with all of the facts about the relationship between the Earth and the Sun, but I tried my best to give him an answer that would lead to more questions. Unfortunately, he didn’t ask any more, but you could tell that he was chewing on it. I’m waiting for more questions. It might be a while until I get them, but I know that he’ll notice the sun again.
I share because Ursa Major and I have really been battling all week. Between potty training and “I’m the boss” syndrome, Ursa Major has really tested my patience and energy this week. I love my son. He is gentle, like his father, with a brilliance in him that can only come from his father as well. He has a fierce and absolute sensitivity toward fairness and justice, and Lord, he is stubborn. I know that he gets that from me. To combine these things without the discipline that comes with maturity and experience creates a force that is extremely difficult to control. 3 is certainly different from 2, but I’m not so sure that it’s better than 2. And mind you, Ursa Minor really will be 2 in April. A 2 year-old and a 3 year-old… Lord, I may not survive.
But back to why I’m sharing: I loved this moment and cherish this moment because Ursa Major and I got to share a connection that we don’t always get to. Usually, I’m “provider” and “disciplinarian” and “role model through example.” But this time, I got to be “teacher.” A resource for answers to pressing questions, questions that are much bigger than “can you help me find my train?” It was also a fantastic moment to see Ursa Major notice something extraordinarily in his world, even though the sun has risen in the east and set in the west every single day of his little life. I watched Ursa Major’s world get bigger for a brief moment. I haven’t done that in a while, and I’d forgotten just how special it is.
And in so doing, my world got a little bigger, too. Because I realize that “how” and “why” are married questions, and I’d better start being able to give him some answers. And once Ursa Minor figures out the game… Lord… My days will be fuller still.
The boys are dressed in their pajamas. They’ve requested their hugs and kisses, and I’ve given them. I have heard two sweet little voices say “I love you, Mama.” Yes, even little Ursa Minor can say that, among so many other amazing sentences. And then out the door they went, back to their father, for milk and books. And I’m still sitting in this office chair, still sore. The house will calm down now, and before too long I will be sleeping, too. My brain has its own questions to turn over: How am I going to meet my goal on my birthday? What am I doing for Lent this year? How am I going to get through the social stuff I’ve got scheduled for this month? How much alcohol can I consume this weekend and still manage to get through it gracefully?
I’m terrible. I admit it. 🙂
It’s Friday and you made it, dear reader. Another week has passed and you are rewarded with a little bit of time of your own. May you use it to the fullest–full rest, full fun, full indulgence. May someone grab your hand and pull you toward something wild and wonderful. May someone present you with a new tidbit to chew on or sip, and may it bring you new understanding of what “delicious” is. May you lean against another warm body and breathe in their warmth. May you notice the sun on the horizon and may you wonder about its daily journey across the sky. May you ask a simple “how” or “why” and follow the answer to all the glorious and complicated corners of our understanding. May you enjoy warmth and love and joy.
Inlaw post on Monday. I’m sure it will be good. See you then.