Photo: The opening moments of a major project.
I confess to a little bit of residual Mom Guilt from last school year. I really didn’t feel good about how the year ended. The summer looming, there was an acceleration to all things in anticipation of “everybody leaving” for summer life. I was… not my best mom self. I was my best professional self and got a lot done but, in the end, that month of June wasn’t my best parenting.
I told myself this school year that I’d be better about that. I made a commitment when I decided to stay home with my babies. I can’t always be bitter just because they are home from school. I chose them from the outset and that needs to continue to be my choice, even if I decide to say “yes” to other projects. It’s not an easy thing to commit and recommit to, but it’s a thing.
Enter, of course, my Monday post, where I basically wrote out all my frustrations about the boys being home. Lordy. I’ve never, ever written that I’m perfect.
Yesterday was a half-day for school and those child-free hours go by mighty fast. I committed to two tasks: a little freelancing and the Costco run. The Costco run took everything out of me (it’s just my least favorite shopping experience by a mile), but I am proud to say I got it done before the boys got home. I was looking forward to making a bunch of meatballs for freezing and otherwise vegging out in the afternoon. Ya’ll know that was a stupid ting for me to hope for.
“I was thinking we could go to the Discovery Museum today?” Major proposed when he got off the bus.
“Oh yes, it’s the perfect time to go,” Minor said in this very matter-of-fact sort of way… not really to me, just to his brother, like they were adults making plans between of the two of them.
It was the perfect time to go. Midday on a weekday is a fantastic time to be there. I was just… tired. But… I also had that Mom Guilt. It was either that or have them watch TV all afternoon. I shrugged. “Ok sure. Yes, we can go.”
“Good. This time, I want to go upstairs and build with the car thingy,” Major said.
He meant the Rigamajig, which is a very cool thing indeed. Think of your K’nex set as a kid, but make it life-sized and wooden. The basic kit is cost-prohibitive in my household, and too big besides, so having a set at the Discovery Museum is kind of amazing. I will say that it’s hard to share the Rigamajig and when everyone wants a piece of it, it’s hard to get much done. You need time with it. You need space with it. For all of our visits to the Museum so far, the boys haven’t really had a chance to get their hands on it. Major, who has had a renewed interest in building of late, seemed to have had a plan. Sure enough, when we arrived, it was available.
The goal: build a tow truck they could both ride in.
The plan: Not much of one… but they figured it out.
I’d told those little boys we’d stay for an hour. Well, the project took until almost closing time. The result, which I hope you can see, was something that they were really proud of. Accomplished by their own hands, just the two of them.
My Quiet Thoughts are multi-fold this Friday. The first thought is about guilt, which isn’t always healthy, but is sometimes attached with truth and lessons. Guilt can be, sometimes, a good thing. In this case, it was. I needed to have a little kernel of something in me, encouraging me to say yes when it would be really easy to say no. I needed a reminder of who I’m supposed to be and what I’m supposed to be doing so I could recognize a need and provide a moment for my boys. My second thought is about the power of yes. “No” is a word that I love and loathe. It’s a word that often saves me from myself. It’s a word that a lot of people who love me wish I’d say more often. I think, though, that moments like this remind me why “yes” is so much more appealing and powerful. “Yes” provides opportunities. “Yes” crafts moments. “Yes” is powerful. I’ve regretted a few yeses in my time… but I feel like I’ve regretted more nos.
And my Quiet Thoughts are about how lucky I am. My two boys spent two hours building a thing together yesterday. Two little brains, hearts and sets of hands moving around, putting something together. They spoke to each other, they problem-solved, they grunted and groaned, they lifted and held, they laughed when that heavy thing nearly fell over on them… and when it was over and built, they congratulated each other, sitting together on their vehicle with deep satisfaction. There is nothing more gratifying for me than to see those two do something together. It lets me know that as long as they are together in this world, they’ll be fine.
It’s a night here in Massachusetts that’s deceptively quiet. If you listen carefully, though, you can hear the tense whispers of a people on edge. Our neighbors in North Andover, Andover and Lawrence are still without gas and/or power. Many are still unable to get to their homes. People outside those three towns are nervous about their gas connections. There is an underlying worry across the region: “Could that have been me? Could that be me someday?” (If you are inclined and you have the means, please consider helping out in some fashion. You can donate monetarily here or, if you’re local, you can take tangible donations here.) Meanwhile, there is devastation to the far south of us, with the monster storm on shore and now dumping rain onto a wide swath of area. If you’re interested in helping with that, I suggest you go and give blood tomorrow. They are saying supplies in that region are already low.
Even tense Friday’s deserve wishes. Wishes for peace and comfort. Wishes for rest. Wishes for strength. Wishes for helpful infrastructure so that those who need help can get it and get it quickly. Wishes for leadership that is thoughtful, effective and efficient. Wishes for courage in the face of long odds, miracles where human ability just isn’t quite enough. Wishes for changed minds and hearts and lifestyles so we can try to ease the burden we put on the planet. Oh Lordy, there are so many wishes. It’s heartbreaking. It’s hard not to sink into it sometimes. I wish you a peaceful night, Dear Reader. Let this night be for stillness and not for worry. Let it be for rest, that tomorrow you can be your best for the people who need you.
We live in a world where anything can happen. The series of yeses and nos that we say throughout our days ripple and grow, brushing up against the rest of the world’s decisions, culminating in echoes and waves that wash over lifetimes and continents. Amid the seeming chaos of it all comes moments of extraordinary beauty: the places where all the pieces come together perfectly and, yes, the places where everything crumbles into a million woeful pieces. It is a truth, mournful, powerful, but necessary, to remember “I’m not in need today, but tomorrow I might be.”
And this is why I remind you that you are loved. What you do matters. Today, you gave and you did. Tomorrow, life might halt while others give and do for you. No matter the circumstance, it is essential that you know how worthy you are, how beloved you are. Shine your brightest in this dark world, that others may notice when you dim temporarily and lift you up in loving help. Shine so that others may shine, Dear Reader. Give so that others may give. Do so that others may do. Don’t fear the chaos. Send out ripples of your own powerful works instead.
Until Monday, do something kind and take care.