Photo: It’s the time of year–time to write that letter to Santa. You’d think this is the happiest thing these boys will write all year. Instead those are tears on Minor’s cheeks.
I’ll tell you what, Dear Reader: I was alls about writing a blog post bad mouthin’ my two little boys today. I sat them down on Wednesday afternoon and asked them to write their letters to Santa. “Time to get that going,” I said. “If you want to make sure things get here on time.” The boys sat at their little chairs with their sharpened pencils and provided papers and proceeded to write utterly illegible gobbildy-goo that nobody can read. Now look, they are in 1st and 2nd grade, so the handwriting isn’t going to be calligrapher’s caliber. This, however, was just laziness. Totally unacceptable.
I said to those boys, “if you want Santa to put in any effort to getting you the things you want, you need to put in a little effort on these here letters, don’t you think? Let’s get back over here and try again.”
Major, first born and duty-driven, sat down with quiet resolve. He did his best and it did look better.
Minor sulked and pouted. “I think it looks just fine,” he said. I told him it didn’t. He huffed and puffed and then the tears came. Tears, Dear Reader.
I really don’t think that my incredulity is totally out of bounds. Why does everything have to be pulling teeth? “You have literally no responsibilities for Christmas other than to write this letter. You’re telling me you don’t even want to put any effort into this one little thing?”
When Minor gets angry, he won’t acknowledge me. He’ll avoid eye contact, he won’t speak. Where Major’s anger is a red-hot thing, expansive and sharp, like a sword straight off the forge, Minor’s is a smoldering sort of thing. The bubbling cauldron, smoke rising.
I’ll give the child credit: he rewrote his list. When he was done, he took his tears and hastened to the living room, throwing himself onto his couch with dramatic force. He wouldn’t address me for 20 minutes. I took the two lists and texted a friend. She told me to breathe, have a little wine, remember they are children.
I told The Husband later that I didn’t really think I liked motherhood. “I really liked babies, I didn’t love toddlers, but I thought boyhood would be better. I wish I could enjoy this more. I want to, but I don’t.”
My husband was very kind to me. I also think he didn’t understand me. There was a shocked alarm in his voice as he reassured. A sort of, “what do you mean? You can’t say that,” sort of tone. Wrong person to confess to. I was probably being a bit extreme. But sometimes it’s not a passing feeling… somethings motherhood isn’t fun. Sometimes the moments that you want to be fun and meaningful end up disintegrating into tears and yet another tug-of-war.
Eventually, boys went to bed. I got some sleep. We all felt better and started fresh in the morning.
This afternoon, the boys piled into the car and began their litany of asks and wants. Minor much prefers baths over showers, but we are so busy that baths have turned into a rare treat. Today, he got in the car and that’s the first thing he asked for: “Can we have a snack and then have a bath?” I told him yes. That might as well have been Christmas.
The boys got the works: hot water chest high, all their favorite bath toys (still in the bucket, hidden in the guest room), and bubbles. The joy that overcame them was infectious. The chattering away, the splashing, the imaginative play, all of it transported me to when they were younger and this was a regular thing. It also made me think of fun times with my little sister, the two of us throwing toys in the bathtub at the old house.
My Quiet Thoughts this evening are about the raw ups and downs of it all. I think I feel it so acutely because I’ve been so busy lately. Guilt for being inattentive colors everything in unflattering ways. The tears that slid down Minor’s cheeks felt like personal failures to me. What decisions did I make so poorly that my kids are too ridiculous to sit and write a simple letter to Santa? Where did I go wrong? But then his elation over simple bath toys, bubbles and hot water brought affirmed that at least a few good decisions can be made in the course of a day. I still think the boys are spoiled. I still think I’m doing wrong sometimes. But I am also learning to forgive myself. They are human. So am I.
I’m grateful for short lists and simple things. Neither of them are asking for Ipad Pros (that’s me. lol. I always set myself up for disappointment). Onward, into a season that’s supposed to be marked with loving grace.
It’s a cold and rainy night here in Massachusetts. It’s supposed to pour buckets overnight, but sun will return in the morning. The leaves that haven’t fallen are that sober brown that is easily overlooked set against the gray sky. Yellows can still be found and brilliant reds as well, but we’ve left peak. Until Springtime, leaves. Until Springtime, color. The dreaded blanket will be here soon enough.
My Dear Reader, I only have one wish for you this weekend: Listen to this short story. Listen to it and hear its message and think about it and, if you are as moved as I hope you’ll be, I hope you choose to share it. It’s the perfect story for right here and right now. Take the time, Dear Reader. I wish you plenty of opportunity to do all sorts of other things, but I really wish for you to stop and spend 30 minutes doing just this one thing.
You are loved, Dear Reader. I tell you every week. You are loved and you are beautiful. You made it to this Friday, which means you are also a little lucky. Use that luck and that beauty to do good in this world. Shine as brightly as you can, inspiring others to do the same. Love and share and be, Dear Reader. The world is a better place simply because you are in it.
I am finishing up the church profile on Monday, so I probably won’t be able to write. I’ll be here next Wednesday, though. Don’t worry.
Until then, Dear Reader, shine on and take care.