Friday, March 18, 2011
The world is bursting with turmoil and chaos and unrest and worry. The earthquake and tsunami in Japan continue to unfurl their devastation. The escalating conflict and unrest in Libya, and also in Bahrain, seems to have no end in sight. Closer to home, recent political decisions threaten the very essence of our democracy (Wisconsin's suppression of unions among public employees is just one example). And there's a very sick child in our community whom I worry about every day. I thought the end of February would bring relief, but in some ways, it did not.
During these times, I am grateful, more than ever, for the simplest gifts:
My family - always a gift. Even when Aidan is so hungry he has "the Jeffies" and is wicked mean to everyone in his path - because most of the time, he's one of the most imaginative and inquisitive people I've ever known. Even when Leo is so "four" I think I am going to fall of the end of my rope - for good - because he is the friendliest of social butterflies, greeting every old biddy we pass in the grocery store. Even when Pax spends one and a half hours per night, whimpering and crying, seemingly for no reason - because he still greets me with a huge grin come sunup. And Jeff - even when he forgets to take out the trash or clean the cat pan, he can make me laugh at the most unexpected moments.
But there are so many others:
Fresh cut flowers. I've started buying myself a bouquet every week. In the earliest days of going from two paychecks to one, fresh flowers every week was one of the first - and hardest - things to get cut from our discretionary spending fund. No longer - because I'm worth it. Each week, I present them to myself, to the side of me that feels particularly overtaxed: the cleaning lady; the financial planner; the mama-nurse. This week, the flowers are for the graduate student who posts to her online class forum while waiting for the water to boil for the mac n' cheese and for a call-back from the pediatrician..... because she's worth it.
Cool crafts and projects, and the kids who love to craft. Aidan and Leo spent an hour building and rebuilding with Dots and toothpicks. (Pax tried to spend an hour eating the Dots. Eventually, he contented himself with poking them with toothpicks, mimicking his brothers!)
Another cool project - dissecting owl pellets. It's a terrible picture, but a great memory. I want to remember, always, how earnestly Aidan dug into the pellets, literally, examining each tiny bone and the skull and the fur and the teeth.
"Catching" the boys reading past bedtime. Again - not a good picture - but when I went upstairs to grab the laundry, I noticed their room was quiet but not dark. It was past their bedtime. I peeked my head in, ready to admonish, but all I could do was grin. There they were, engrossed in their own world of wonder and adventure - nestled in the calm quiet of their beds with books in hand.
We went to the zoo. We bought some pet food to feed to the giraffes. I want to remember, always, that Pax ate the giraffe food and was furious when I tried to sweep it out of his mouth, furious when I pried the remaining kibble from his tightly clenched fist.
An 81 degree day in March. We celebrated by eating dinner out on the deck - the first time this season. (Also note the gorgeous blue sky in the background)
The gift of music. Doesn't this look awesome, all kum-ba yah and whatnot? Can you see us on our next camping trip, gathered 'round the campfire with s'mores and songbooks in hand? I'm determined to make it happen, determined to learn to play the guitar -- just look at the rapt and adoring attention I get from all these males!
And I return again to my most favorite simple gift. My family. Often, my heart is so heavy when I head to bed at night, heavier still when Jeff is working and I'm not able to unburden myself of my worries. Three loveys sit on my nightstand for that very purpose. For my birthday, Jeff bought a Monkey, Dog, and Ox (representing the Chinese birth years of Aidan, Leo, and Pax, respectively). Then he bought tiny recordable buttons and recorded the peals of laughter of each boy onto the buttons before painstakingly sewing each one into the stuffed animals. At night before bed, I play them, sometimes all at once and sometimes individually. I cannot help but drift off to sleep with a smile on my face, my heart lightened, after listening to their beautiful laughter and replaying it in my mind's ear, over and over....
"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter."