Or: “Doors open and close all the time.”
It’s been strange here, this first full week of no other ladies living in my house. There’s been no one for me to tell that I’m fat (that terrible female pastime in which I often partake which drives my daughters batty). I had no one to help me put on eyeshadow when I went out last weekend; and no one here is interested in sitting around at night after dinner on the couch and watching a few episodes of “New Girl.”
The boys and I did, however, share an interesting moment a few nights ago that was quite nice. An evening that showed me that even though the girls have temporarily moved on, all is not lost. All is different, for sure, but not lost.
The boys — 22 and 12 — cleaned up after we finished the completely uninspired, yet totally devoured, meal of pasta (don’t tell them it was the Trader Joe’s quinoa-variety) with a jar of vodka sauce, bagged salad with croutons and Jersey tomatoes and a loaf of semolina bread I picked up at the Italian market in town that they slathered with the Kerrygold butter I have about 7 pounds of from Costco in my frig. And then, one by one, the three of us made our way outside and sat on one of the chairs scattered around my pool and began to read.
If you had spent every night for a good dozen years of your life squashed in between little bodies on a twin bed reading about wild things and engines that could and little boys falling down wells, this is pretty much one of the pinnacles of your parenting career. It’s that moment you realize that at least one of your parenting initiatives totally stuck.
And not to get all braggy (but I totally am), my older guy was reading The Grapes of Wrath after quickly ploughing through East of Eden earlier this summer.
So we all sat in silence and read as the sky above us began to darken. I’m pretty sure my little guy farted at one point but nowadays, that’s less and less a rarity. Farts tend to happen a lot with boys and they are always met with laughter and a look on the farter’s face akin to Will Ferrell’s after his “Did you hear that?” burp in “Elf.”
As the mosquitos began their nightly feast and the air turned cool, we slowly made our way back into the house, one by one, and retired to our respective rooms.
We’d probably only been outside reading together for about an hour – tops – but I savored those 60 minutes. I slowed the pace I’d set tearing through the book I’d been reading to relish the moment. I gave myself an internal pinch and resisted the urge to put down my book and stare at them while they read. They hate when I do that, the children. The staring makes them nervous.
But I wanted to burn the image deep into my memory reserve. I wanted to have it on hand so I can pull it up and remember it with great clarity the next time I am certain that I have failed as a parent. The inevitable moment when I’m sure I’ve let one of them down. I’ll take a deep breath and pull the memory up and turn it every which way in the light and remember the ease and stillness and perfection of sitting outside on a cool summer night and reading alongside my sons.
And then I’ll slowly exhale.
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