As a mom and a writer, many people have asked me, “What is your idea of a perfect day?” And then thoughts of writing for hours uninterrupted, spa dates, cocktails, sunshine and no kids run through my mind. But I learned something a few weeks ago.
A perfect day is what you make it.
This day started with my son’s soccer game. If anyone remembers my very first blog post, soccer was the bane of my existence. My son never played, and completely stressed me out. I vowed there’d be no more after one painful season. One year later, he begged me to sign up for soccer. I said absolutely not, but after many pleas, I realized he was older and wanted to try again. He vowed to play and try hard, so I parted with my money and enrolled him again.
And he played.
I’m quite proud of him. He runs up and down the soccer field, panting, looking professional in his uniform, and having fun. Here is our conversation from that morning with me and my husband.
Me: He looks like he’s having fun. Look at him run!
My husband: Yes, but he’s going nowhere. He’s afraid to kick the ball. See how he runs behind the group and if the ball gets near him, he ducks behind another player?
I frowned, then watched my son mimic my husband’s statement.
Me: Why doesn’t he kick the ball?
My husband shrugged. “He sucks, honey. On defense, he watched the ball go right into the goal while he looked at his teammate to get it. It’s a disaster.”
Me:. “At least he’s outside getting exercise.”
My husband: “Yes. There is that.”
I looked at my younger son, settled on my lap like a sultan, eating M&M’s and blinking lazily in the sun. “We still have one shot left at getting a relief pitcher for the NY Mets.”
My husband: “Don’t hold your breath.”
Later on, I drove my two boys to meet with their cousins. My niece brought a friend, so that increased our total to six children. After my mom’s house was trashed (it took 15 minutes) I decided to load them in the van and go to the park.
I love the park. It’s meditative, and forces me to breathe fresh air and stay in the moment. I try not to use my Iphone to twitter or read my kindle or facebook. I take the opportunity to sit and think and watch my children play, or push them on the swings. I stayed for two hours and watched the dynamics. The older girls rocked on the swings, giggling and sharing secrets and sneaking glances at the boys on the basketball court. The two younger ones – 4 and 5 – strolled hand in hand and played in the sand, while the two middle ones had a hearty game of tag in and out of the slides. Eventually, I had three kids lined up on the baby swings and got my workout pushing each of them one at a time to fly high in the sky.
Then the ice cream man came.
I hate the ice cream man. Once a magical icon, he is now feared and loathed by all mothers in parks. With dinner looming, I lied and told them I had absolutely no money with me and promised them Rita’s Ices after dinner.
We tried to leave the park but got delayed. The middle child had lost her shoes. It took us almost half an hour to find them, hidden in the back of some rocks, and then we found her socks buried in the sand castle.
When we returned, my mom had made tacos for dinner. I took my glass of wine into the tv room and watched the Preakness. The kids sat at the dining room table and forced the adults to eat buffet style. Then my husband came into the room looking very upset.
“They ate them all.”
I looked up from the race. “Who?”
“Those kids. I went to get my taco and everything is all gone.”
“That’s impossible. We put out plates and plates of food. We just served them.”
“Well, it’s all gone now. What the hell am I going to eat?”
I gave my grumpy husband five bucks to get a slice of pizza. You don’t mess with hungry children.
After dinner, I piled them back in the minivan for the promised ices. While I herded the group through the line, I desperately tried to prepare by getting as many orders as possible. But by the time we reached the front, the kids all wanted different samples, and changed their minds a dozen times, and I forked over a million dollars and directed them to the big table in the front. Exhausted, I slumped to the side and slurped my ice.
A woman came over to me. “Are they all yours?”
“Hell no!” I answered. “Only two. The rest are my nieces. One family friend.”
“Good for you, my dear!” she cheered. I guess she was excited I had the bravery to actually leave the house with so many children, so I took my kudos and enjoyed the moment.
When we got home, they needed to be cleaned up, get sand washed out of their hair, put in pajamas, and then the battle began over who would sleep over whose house. I finally loaded three children back to my house for the night and pulled in the driveway. Cut the engine and turned around.
They were all dead asleep.
Relieved, I paused for a moment. Gazed out at the quiet night, and listened to the crickets chirp from the open window of the van. I went over my day, every last messy, chaotic, crazy inch of it. And smiled.
Yep. It had been a perfect day.
Bright sunshine. Healthy, laughing children. Grabbing precious moments to watch them exactly where they are in life, and wonder who they will grow up to be. A deep weariness in the bones that reminds you you’ve worked hard and given a lot.
It wasn’t a day I learned I wrote a bestseller, or watched my son score the winning goal. But it was my day, one in hopefully a million, made up of mundane, stressful details that are my life.
Tell me about one of your days that surprised you once you looked long enough.