On Monday morning, I asked the boys how they were feeling. We were deep into the summer and the [good] chaos it brings. "Wanna get out of dodge?"
"Ma. What they heck is dodge and how do we get out of it?" After I explained... they said yes. So, we decided to pack our bags and head to Cape Cod, within the hour. Found a cheap but tidy hotel. Sunscreen. Fresh undies. Fishing poles and nets. And snacks.
It seemed perfect. We had a mini golf/ice cream joint next door. The weather was perfection. I brought their skateboards and watched them ride in the hotel parking lot while sipping a can of rose. (btw, they sell that now-a-days: canned rose). The place even came with it's own private flock of geese that we could chase.
But it didn't feel perfect. It felt off. Disjointed. Unconnected. Scattered radio waves and signals. Mush. Like we weren't a well oiled machine... the three of us. That joy you feel deep inside when you are connected to your most precious life companions... it wasn't there.
And that's all I wanted.
One of them said something cold and mean (9 year-olds can be brutal sometimes!!) And it hurt. I went to bed the first night upset. Disappointed. Couldn't muster up the loving mushy vacation feel if I tried. Welp!!
It got better... but nothing to write home about. The weekend was a work in progress. And that's exactly how it felt. WORK. Single parenting is not for the faint at heart. ANY parenting, to be exact. This was like a weekend in the trenches. Teaching, correcting, patience, patience, loving when you feel like snapping, teaching, correcting. Sleep. Repeat. If I could have written off the trip as a business expense (in the business of parenting) I would have labelled it as construction/renovation/clearing/space-making.
I mean, the sunshine was good. Ice cream was good. Mini golf. GOOD. Dinners I didn't cook. Bed I didn't make. But something was missing.
I told the kids they could watch the Disney channel while I went outside to sit and be. I had a few moments of pondering, asking, wondering. With the geese. And I came back to the hotel room and I said... "Guys... how you feeling?" They starred blankly. I continued... "Mommy is feeling like... like far away from you. It just feels off do ya feel me? "
"Ma. What the heck does 'do ya feel me' mean?"
When I explained. They nodded aggressively... like they were dying to say it but couldn't put it in words. "I feel like I'm not close with you. Like I'm not connected to you. And I'm trying. It makes me kinda sad, " I said. They nodded silently, completely captivated. And it was powerful.
"Yeah mommy." They both agreed.
Our couple day vacation on the Cape came and went. We stopped in Boston on the way home and went fishing (hot dogs as bait) believe it or not. It's one of our favorite things to do in the city. And we always catch a fish. It started to rain, and I thought, "geeze!" but we pushed through... hid under a bridge and it stopped. Our food was soggy. But we caught some fish. And my children were alive and their hearts were free and shinning. We danced on the bridge over the Charles river (perfected "the Floss"). Met new people. Functioned as a unit. One of them caught two fish and the other caught none. So on the second, the proud fisherman said, "Mom... can you take a picture with my brother holding the fish?"
I sure can.
Two days later, the boys spent a few days at their grandparents. It's usually a time where I am working and away. But I showed up that day unexpectedly. We had a special family gathering. And my children hovered around me. It was so sweet and unexpected, like the perfect sunset beheld after the rain storm. We had barbecue chicken and potato salad in our hands. They played with my hair... walked by and sat on my lap. Wanted to tell me stories. Just wanted to be where I was... as if I was their long awaited princess.
I don't understand how these moments of grace come. Certainly, they can't be manufactured or forced. But what I do know is that I want to make room for them, when they arrive. I want to create space for them to flood in, leaving the fertile soil bed of my heart ready to grow things.