In the 70-plus degree, sunny, rejuvenating weather, I sat at the picnic table eating a decadent spicy chicken taco, stuffed with onions and peppers and avocado with a dollop of sour cream. I had daydreamed of this taco all day long. During our hike, while I lay in the sun afterward and while I folded laundry from the clothesline. It was going to be the pinnacle to my day. The perfect ending to a very fun-filled morning and afternoon of “Family Time” that I had planned for us all.
We’d taken a beautiful hike late morning, ate our lunches at the apex of Prospect Rock and then spent the rest of the afternoon toiling around outside and soaking up the much appreciated sun. Like most mothers, I purposely and deliberately scheduled a “Family Hike” for this particular Sunday as I knew the weather would be beautiful and that all families need some good “Family Time” once in a while. I orchestrated where we would go, made everyone’s lunch, packed the First Aid Kit and took all of the pictures.
So, sitting at the picnic table, eating the meal that I had daydreamed of all day long, it was the perfect ending to what I had considered a very productive and fulfilling day.
As I looked over across our beautiful view of Mt. Mansfield, chewing and savoring my long-awaited taco, I suddenly heard my oldest son’s wails of distress echoing from out front of our house. Even over the 4-wheeler he was riding, I could hear the urgency and pain emanating from deep within, his piercing cries carrying across the lawn and in and around the corners of the house.
As I sat in the warm shade of the umbrella, the delectable juices of my taco swirling around in my mouth, I contemplated whether I really needed to get up and tend to him, or if I could just pretend the whole thing was not happening.
Can’t a mom just enjoy her taco in peace one time!?!?
After “chewing” on it for a minute (Genius, I know), I decided to pull myself away from the table and do the responsible thing and make sure he wasn’t either, A) at risk of death, B) at risk of needing stitches or C) in need of a cast. Because really, at this point in my children’s’ development (and my sanity) I have had to set the bar low.
Begrudgingly, I drag myself to the front of the house where I see he is slowly put, put, puttering toward me on the 4-wheeler. He’s still cognizant enough to man a vehicle, so I already know he isn’t going to die. I stand and wait for him to reach me as he wipes away his tears. Since he isn’t limping or holding any body part in pain, I can only assume that he also doesn’t need stitches or a sling.
I half-heartedly ask, “what’s wrong?”, thinking of my taco sitting on the picnic table waiting patiently for me.
“Sam smacked me with a stick while I was driving past him!!”.
Not twenty minutes before, Sam had broken out into sobs and sat writhing on the floor of the deck claiming Silas had “ripped off his skin” while they were wrestling. I saw the whole thing happen from the kitchen window. He was fine. Remembering this, my response to Silas was something along the lines of, “Well, Sam smacked you in the face with a stick and you ripped off his skin. Sounds like you’re even now”. And with that, I turned back around and headed back to my taco and rice.
I thought about my reaction as I finished my dinner. How subtle our separations from our children can be. Putting them on the bus for the first day of Kindergarten is a much more acute and somewhat traumatic separation, than the day-to-day, slow, incremental untangling of souls that goes almost unnoticed until one day, you realize the last time you were able to pick him up was months ago. And now he’s just too big.
My boys don’t need me to fawn over their every injury now. Maybe at two years of age, but not at 7 and 8. And I don’t want to. Not only because it is not necessary anymore, but because me enjoying quiet moments of bliss, like my taco, are finally being taken off the back burner. They will learn that they aren’t really all that hurt. To shake it off a bit. And that mom really needs to sit and enjoy her taco right now. But there is always the vague wonder if I should have shown more concern.
I ran all of this through my mind as I heard the 4-wheeler come barreling around the corner of the house 5 minutes later, both of my sons astride the ATV, squealing and laughing, the wind blowing their short light-brown hair waving to me and demanding “Mom, watch this!”. I had, once again, held onto and dissected and questioned our subtle separation for far longer than they did.
They were already living again, care-free and totally, totally fine.