You know he would pick his first week of Christmas break to come down with a bronchial virus.
He is finally showing real signs of recovery. Hopefully he will lose his old man’s smoker’s cough soon, too.
He has been a trooper. Even the night that we ended up on the family room couch at 2am as I held him upright to stave off the cough, he kept a bright outlook. He kept worrying that my feet weren’t covered and periodically rearranged our throw blankets that I had tossed haphazardly on top of us.
I was grateful for a reason to smile in my tired early morning haze.
So, maybe our plans for Christmas break have been slightly thwarted.
At least we are together, we have a roof over our heads and we have love in hearts.
My ‘vacation’ is officially over and a semi-quiet has settled over my house. It is in this quietude that I can reflect back on all the fun and a little bit of the sad. It has been well over a year since my Mom’s passing and I can honestly say that the grief process has gotten better. In my everyday life I’m adjusting more and more to her absence, but when big or interesting events like this recent vacation pop up, the sting of her loss still gets me.
Mad Dog and I were married at Disney World in December of 2003. Since that time we have made several trips back there and up until her death, my Mom was always with us. This last trip without her had a lot of great moments but also had some moments we wished my Mom could be with us. Our kids only slightly picked up on our random bouts of sadness or so I thought. As my sister and her family were leaving for home yesterday, we got very emotional as we said goodbye. There was no dialogue about missing our Mom, but the emotion exchanged in the air between us was palpable.
Once my sister’s family was gone and I was left with the boys and my sad thoughts, Full Speed looks at me and says, “I miss Grandma.”
“I miss her, too and so does Aunt Skee. That’s why we seemed sad today.”
“Mom, don’t be sad. Aunt Skee has her kids to keep her happy and you have me and little T.Puzzle to keep you happy.”
My heart was warmed by his perceptive compassion but I couldn’t help but wish my Mom was right there in that moment to see it.
The several transitions of this week are going, dare I say it…, good. I am seeing the first true glimpses of emotional growth in little T.Puzzle and this has made all the difference. The same development pattern happened with Full Speed, too. Both my boys started with the tantrums at around 18 mos. and carried them well through their third year (I’m pretty sure this isn’t common; I just hit the ‘jack-pot’ with two extra feisty kids). Full Speed’s tantrums had some carry over into the fourth year so I know I’m not completely out of the woods with little T.Puzzle. However, I’m beginning to see the light of hope peak through the trees. After surviving almost four solid years of tantrums and extreme power struggles, you don’t know how good this feels. And, believe me, I know forest fires of feistiness can pop up any moment, I’m just trying to savor what little victories I can.
Moving to a new class this week is a big deal for little T.Puzzle and he has done really well. Of course the first day started with a lot of ‘nos!’ and crying but he rallied. When I picked him up his new teacher told me that he listened well, cleaned up after himself and she couldn’t ask for more from a new student. Little T.Puzzle is so proud to be in the new ‘big boy’ class that by the second drop-off he politely hugged me and went on his way. I had to double-check to make sure that I hadn’t accidentally grabbed another kid on the way in. I couldn’t believe this was MY little T.Puzzle. See I told you, there is that light again.
The changes of summer have been many and I am thankful my family is weathering them with calm determination. This is so much more preferable than our usual crazy, sobbing-tantrum mode of operation.
Have you ever pondered why the only prerequisite to parenthood is that you are human? So many of us eventually have children whether by choice, miracle or accident. How do you know if you are any good at it? How much of how your children turn out falls on your shoulders? I wrestle with these thoughts all the time. Is my boys’ behavior, both good and bad, a direct result of me? Or, are they just who they are and they happened to fall into my family much like a lottery winner stumbles upon their fortune?
Parenting is not black or white. It doesn’t tidy-up into neat compartments of do this or don’t do that. Each child is unique as are the parents, the environment, genetics,…. the variables are infinite.
I know I am succeeding in many areas of parenting and falling short in others. As I have learned from my own parents and now am starting to truly believe, parenting mistakes aren’t the end of the world. Maybe, just maybe, despite all the mistakes that I might be making as a parent, T.Puzzle and Full Speed may turn out alright after all. Maybe it’s the mistakes that will show them who they really are. I already know they are fantastic, but it’s up to them to discover that for themselves.