It had been one of those days. I was tired, overwhelmed, isolated. Another day at home with my two kids where my biggest accomplishment is finishing the day without poop ending up in anyone’s hair. I was feeling sorry for myself. Questioning whether staying home is right for me, or for the kids, and feeling jealous of my friends with jobs they can go to (escape to) and time for pedicures and happy hours. Wondering if the elusive “balance” I seek will ever be found.
Dinnertime came. My husband wasn’t home. Again. I checked my cell phone for a text message from him with some sort of explanation or ETA. Nothing. I’d spent most of the day eyeing the clock and counting down the hours until he would be home. Not, sadly, because I missed him. But because I desperately wanted help. Because caring for two so young can be exhausting on a good day. On a challenging day – God help me.
He’s been working late a lot these last few weeks. Family dinners, with all of us together, are a huge deal to me. Yet there we were, waiting, wondering. Again. My daughter asked me, “Where’s Papa?”
I did something I shouldn’t have done. I snapped out an irritable answer. “I don’t know where he is. Whatever. We’re not waiting for him. Let’s eat.”
She looked at me with her earnest, solemn blue eyes, and said, “Mommy, Papa wants to be here.”
This, from my 2 ½ year old. I caught my breath. The wisdom of her words, whether they came from true insight or simply innocence, hit me in a zen, pause for a moment and consider kind of way. She was right. My husband wasn’t staying late at work to avoid me, to dump responsibility for the kids on me, or because he “doesn’t get” what I’m going through, as the twisting tornado of irritation and anger forming in my mind was telling me. The simple truth was exactly as my daughter had stated it. He wanted to be there, with us. He just couldn’t.
It’s one of the things I love most about having kids. The way they slow down the frenzied pace life can assume, they way they remind me of what really is important. How easily smiles and happiness come to a child. How quick they are to forgive and forget. How pure and huge their love is. When I slow down and see the world through my kids’ eyes, I’m reminded that a hummingbird buzzing around a flower is an amazing and beautiful thing. That lying on my back and watching clouds float by is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. That Tigger stickers make excellent fashion accessories. That blowing raspberries is hilarious.
I need these reminders. I bury myself in expectations, projects, goals, all in the pursuit of “making something” of myself; “doing something” with my life. My kids remind me to just embrace the moment. To smile. To laugh. To enjoy. That I am lucky to be a part of a family that loves each other and wants to be together, even when we can’t actually be together. I realize, in watching my children, that sometimes the difference between a good day and a bad day can be as simple as an attitude adjustment on my part. I’m lucky that I can stay home with my kids and be such a huge part of their lives right now. I’m choosing this, not stuck with it, and it isn’t forever.
One morning a few weeks ago, I went into my daughter’s room to wake her up. She reached for me to pull her out of her crib and into a hug. Still holding her, I opened her blinds and was greeted by the typical San Diego marine layer coloring the sky a dull, listless grey. I wrinkled my nose.
“Eww. It’s kinda cloudy out today.”
She looked out the window. “It’s kinda sunny out, too.”
I pulled her into a tight hug as tears sprang into my eyes. “You are so right, sweetie. It’s kinda sunny out, too.”
*Note: These photos were taken by the amazing, fun, and talented Carey with Barefoot Memories.