As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Date Day

Back when my third son was born, I had this genius idea that I should take each of the kids on a date day once a month, to make sure that I was getting enough one-on-one time with each of them.  Not the baby of course, who took most of my time anyway and who, quite frankly, could care less at that age.  But the older kids who were so deprived of my time while I tended to this new little one - they were the ones who needed me. 

It is genius. And yet, for some reason, I have never been able to make it happen on any kind of regular basis.  More often than not months will go by, at which point I will notice some behaviour on the part of some child that indicates to me that maybe he or she could benefit from some time alone with Mom.  It usually takes several weeks of coordinating to make an evening away with just that one child possible.  While I still wish I could take each child out once a month by themselves, I am grateful at least for the opportunity to make it happen when I see a need.

Near the end of my pregnancy I got a vibe from my second son that he was just feeling a little left out, and made the grand announcement to him that someday soon (I didn't know when) we would have a date.  His little eyes lit up, and he carried the anticipation of that time alone with me day after day, frequently reminding me of it and so very much looking forward to it.  As my pregnancy approached its 40th week and it became apparent to me that I just wasn't going to be able to get an evening out before the baby's arrival, I delicately floated the idea of maybe, possibly, having a date after the baby was born and bringing the baby with us.  Which, thankfully, suited him just fine.

Five weeks after the baby's birth, this date was still heavily on my mind.  I grew more and more exasperated each day, the guilt weighing on me.  Why haven't I been able to make this happen yet?  I know why.  I went from being a (huge!) pregnant, homeschooling Mom with extra doctor's appointments and no energy, to a no-longer-huge-pregnant mother of a newborn, who also homeschools and juggles weekly extra-curriculars for all the kids.  Time is not in abundance for me.  This poor little guy has been so patient and chipper waiting for his mother to make good on her promise.  I am so very, very grateful for his good attitude in the midst of his waiting.  He never left my heart, not once in that whole time.  But sometimes a great opportunity takes a while to find you.

I recently took on a small cleaning job.  It's once a week in an office, and takes me about two hours to complete.  I had all the kids in town on an outing one day last week and had arranged for my husband to meet me and get the kids, so I could clean the office before heading home. Then it dawned on me - bring him with you.  I figured I could get him to help me out, pay him some of the money I earn, and spend some time with him at the same time.  This little guy loves to help out, and when I told him my plan his eyes lit up! 

My sweet boy, looking all distinguished
He was a pure delight to have with me, and despite only being six years old was a very competent helper. We laughed and joked as we worked together, and I got to listen to his stories uninterrupted.  It was a true joy to spend our time together. As I packed him into the car on our way out he said to me, "wait a minute Mom, remember that date we were supposed to have?"  And my heart sank.  I took a deep breath and tried to glamourize the situation as best I could, praying that the time we had just spent would be an acceptable compromise for him.  "Well, that's what I was thinking when I brought you along," I told him.  "I had some work to do and I've been having a hard time finding a day for you and I to go out, so I thought we could hang out at the office and do some work together, and you could have a chance to earn some money at the same time."  He grinned from ear-to-ear and said, "this is our date?"  And I said, "It sure is!  Wanna grab a treat on our way home?" And he was delighted.

This is a lesson I learned long ago with this boy - that I don't need to move mountains in order to create a "perfect moment" for us to spend time together.  He is so happy just to be included in my grownup world, and this day that I hoped and prayed would be sufficient to him turned out to be extraordinary for him simply because I let him be part of it.  I let him work with me, and he was revelling in being useful and in being with me.  What I can't give him is more hours in a day, or more days in a week.  But the thing I can give him is myself, by opening my life to him.  What a joy to know the thing he needs the most is what I already have.  Lord help me to be more attentive to my kids in my everyday life, so that I can allow them to share in these moments with me, and not let their little lives pass me by in search of a perfect moment that can never be constructed.
So grateful for this boy!

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