Looking for a beautiful moment

I’ll confess – sometimes I’m writing a story in my head while it’s happening. I know I’m not the only writer that does this. You think to yourself, I can use this beautiful moment for content.

But that’s not how life works is it?

Since the pandemic, I’ve been visiting our local park almost daily. One afternoon, my husband and I were treated to the sight of six baby ducklings. They crowded their mama, much like my twins used to do to me.

The next day at lunch, I announce to my ten-year-old boys that we were going to do something fun and go find the ducks! It was a gorgeous sunny day without the usual Ohio humidity.

three ducks
The ducks as preteens. Photo by friend Megan.

I knew when they saw the ducklings they would love them but these days (even in a pandemic!) they often moan and whine about leaving the house. I wonder if this is foreshadowing to the teen years.

Underlying this is the fact that we’ve been trying to cut down technology all summer. A friend told me her kids have to complete everything on a list before they have technology time. This was not a popular suggestion at my house and honestly, my attempt didn’t last long since I’m working from home and my husband is at work in the mornings.

Back to my beautiful moment, Max and Calvin agree to ride bikes to the park.

Calvin is riding his new bike is a big deal. I feel grateful and hopeful, emotions that are hard to tap into these days.  

As they ride, Max zooming, Calvin quite cautious, I snap a photo. I think to myself, “I’m killing it as a stay-at home-working mom today.”

The universe put me in my place.

We go to lock up the bikes so we can navigate to the ducks on foot. A fight breaks out. The easiest of tasks often elicit high emotions.

We get down to the path by the pond and the rain has made it a mess. I tell them to walk around the path but this makes it worse and we sink. Calvin gets mad that his new shoes are muddy. This is my fault, of course.

We get to the dock where we spied the ducks and they are nowhere to be found. I keep up my sunny spirits and we look for turtles too. But everyone is grumpy and their lives are hard because I made them do this. They continue to bicker. Calvin cries; Max rides ahead. I keep my cool but am thinking, “I need to get back to my desk. “

I’m not having a beautiful moment.

Being a parent is like that for me. There are many times where I have no idea if I’m doing the right thing. I remember asking my friends when they had babies, “How do you know what to do?”

They would tell me, “You just know.”

I now understand how you can apply this to babies but each age comes with a new challenge and I still question myself. It’s exhausting.

You would think I wouldn’t sweat the day-to-day stuff since Calvin was diagnosed with a brain tumor when the boys were two. We’re lucky and grateful but the lasting repercussions of chemotherapy are not always easy. (Read more in a previous post.)

I get frustrated that people don’t understand but that’s probably just the pain I feel as a mother. One thing Calvin has struggled with is his balance. He used to fall down a lot and in preschool his teachers were very concerned. On the flip side, his doctors tell us they wish all kids with his tumor would do so well.

He’s improved with time. Last summer when Max got a new bike, Calvin wasn’t interested and we didn’t push it. This year, during the stay at home orders, he expressed his desire for a bike.

It hasn’t been an instant fix. He’s frustrated and wants to be as good as his neighborhood friends. He chose a pink bike and helmet. Calvin is always true to himself.

When we get home, I go back upstairs to work, leaving Max to pout about not getting the computer. Calvin decides to go out.

On his bike.

From my desk, I watch him bike up the street, slowly but surely.

Hey, I got my beautiful moment.

Calvi on a bike
Calvin on his bike

Now for the books

It’s hard to believe my babes will be eleven this week. I feel like I just wrote this post about them turning six. I’m excited to give them some new books and will share in the future.

Max has been rereading Charlotte’s Web. (Read about the first time here.)

One of Calvin’s recent picks are Snapdragon By Kat Leyh. (I loved this special book and recommend it.)

Charlotte’s Web and Patrick Swayze

I made Max cry.

I didn’t mean too – he just kept badgering me – about the end of Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams.

He wanted to know what happened at the end of the story. His teacher was reading it to them at school.

Spoiler alert. I told him Charlotte died.

chweb

Max’s first grade class read this beloved book.

My sensitive boy burst into tears and I felt terrible.

“Why did Charlotte have to die?” he wailed.

“Well, spiders don’t live very long and it ends up ok,” I said. “She left behind lots of babies and some of them stay with Wilbur.”

I tried to empathize with him by saying I cried as a kid when I read that Jack the dog died in one of the Little House on the Prairie books. This didn’t help.

Did I mention he has a tender heart? The other day he cried because he accidentally killed a cicada he was playing with. This is the same day I had to break it to the kids that our favorite rabbit, the infamous Patrick Swayze and resident of the coffee shop Sidewinder Coffee, had died. This one got to me too. Patrick was a regular in our lives – Mama gets coffee, kids get to see Patrick. Both kids cried when I told them and I got teary too. I think squashing a cicada the day he found out about Patrick was a bit much for Max.

IMG_0618

Max and Patrick about four years ago.

He buried the cicada and put it in a hole with a post-it that said sycada.

We also put a peony on it. While I consoled him, I wondered to myself what Patrick’s owner Kim did with the stuffed bunny he used to hump. (You have to find humor, right?)

When I told Calvin about Patrick he cried and said, “I didn’t care when Patrick’s girlfriend died.” For a short while, Patrick had a girlfriend named Eppie who wasn’t as friendly.

bunnies

Patrick and Eppie in their salad days. 

I eventually calmed Max down about Charlotte and we talked about how maybe it was better to find out at home than in class – that was my spin on it.

I asked him about it later in the week and he said a couple of kids cried when they got to the end of the book in school.

I think this is beautiful. I’m glad kids are getting emotional about books – it tells me something is working.

And we’ll always miss Patrick Swayze.