Saturday: Unexpected, Ordinary, Joy-filled
This Saturday began the same as many others. I woke up surrounded by our tiny pups, Molly and Aisley, who were tucked into bed with me. They’re not allowed to sleep in our bed, but sometimes break the rule when Mike leaves for the office. I felt Aisley snuggled behind my knees, but didn’t notice Molly until I caught the gaze of her sad eyes following me back from the bathroom. She’s good at blocking her true emotions and hiding her need for affection much like a cat. Much like me. Although, tonight, she eventually settled under my arm on the couch after stepping across my lap, side to side, fighting her need to get close before surrendering to her longing to be comforted.
Gabe and I savored a quiet morning by reading the newest Lego magazine and sipping Earl Grey. I agreed to let him make his own breakfast, and a few moments later my presence was requested in the kitchen. Dramatically allowing steam to roll up and out of the pan, he lifted the lid with his left hand and waved his right over the contents, proudly announcing how he scrambled five eggs for himself and five for Daddy. “And I would have made 15 if you wanted some!” I commented on the thoughtfulness of making breakfast for Daddy and added that my appetite is a bit smaller than his. Then I made a mental note to add eggs to the grocery list. Or, a hen.
After Mike returned… Here’s where I could fast forward to the library, in order to skip over the yucky part of our day. However, I’m learning that when we hide our messiness, we hide our true selves. Not only that, it also cheats others out of learning from our mistakes. Mistake number one: we didn’t plan anything to do on Saturday, before Saturday. We’ve fallen into the pattern of, “what do you want to do today?” “I don’t care, what do YOU want to do?” We’re often, quite often, last minute people. That can be ok. However, we’re finding, for us, it’s better if we’re not always last minute people. Mistake number two: asking Gabe to clean his bathroom ‘real quick’ before we left. This turned into a forever battle ending with me holding the shaking Molly, her past life of abuse triggered by the frustration in Mike’s raised voice, “add this to the list of things I never thought I would say, ‘Do not use the bathtub as a toilet!'” Real boy-mom life.
I’m a firm believer that sunshine shouldn’t be wasted on inside-the-house-things that can be done later, and in that moment, we all needed a breath of fresh air. “Gabe, grab something to eat and we’re going to the library.” Obviously, a dozen eggs only fuel a growing guy for so long. We often joke about how his first job better be at a grocery store.
The new library contains a beautiful corner of perfectly manicured astroturf, surrounded by a sidewalk which silently screams to normal people, “walk here.” Apparently, my people missed the memo. As I took the long way, the boys frolicked, crawled, rolled across the fake, yellow-green grass, oblivious to the giggles of on-looking library patrons. If my goal in life was to be invisible in public, I failed miserably today. I pleaded with them to return to the real world while hiding my smile and attempting not to laugh.
The new library’s book return is an adventure all by itself! If you’re ever bored, just go check out a stack of books, walk right back to the return window and place them on the conveyor belt. The glass wall invites visitors into the intricate dance between librarian and the sort-of-reverse-grocery-store-checkout machine. Pushing, pulling, sorting books this way and that way. I wonder what would happen if someone inserted a box of Cheerios instead of a book.
We wandered our way through the shelves until Gabe was satisfied with his stack for the week. Mike and I each found something to read and settled onto a bench within view of our independent son. Gabe, taking his place at one of the mini-cubicles, alternated reading and peeking over the top at neighboring College students who were plucking away at laptops and scribbling down notes from textbooks. He fervently longs to be one of the big kids. It’s times like this I’m so grateful for our involvement in youth ministry that allows this only child to have older brothers and sisters in Christ who constantly pour into him. Sure, he’s up past his bedtime too often, but it’s a small sacrifice with eternal rewards. I think of all the seeds being planted in his heart and take comfort in knowing who he’ll go to when there are questions he doesn’t want to ask us.
Noticing the peaceful silence, I whispered to Mike, “this is great! It’s like a day-date with books!” Not every family adventure has to be elaborate or expensive. In fact, it’s often the most ordinary, everyday experiences that fill us with the deepest memories. This memory of sitting next to Mike, reading and sipping coffee, enjoying a mini-date while watching our son gain independence, will be one I’ll tuck deep into my heart as a treasured gift.
After a bit more reading time and a quick game of chess, we let our stomachs escort us out. This time, all three of us were hungry, indicating an actual meal time, not just an Olympic-athlete sized snack for Gabe! After another brief performance by the boys on the astroturf-covered stage, we were heading home, stomachs empty, but hearts full.