I love you.
There’s no lack of I love you being said in our family. Rob and I often open up or finish a statement (or command!) with, I love you, when speaking to our children. Whether shepherding them out into the world, sending them to bed, greeting their morning grumpy-selves or yelling at them for their awful behavior, I’m certain there will be an I love you whispered or yelled. Or both.
“Please empty the dishwasher! I love you.” “I love you! Did you do your homework?” “For the 900th time, get off your Tablet! Oh, and I love you.” Sometimes I joke about it. “It’s your turn to pick up dog poop. But don’t worry! I love you.” Because … I don’t know … maybe they’ll forget?! Our house could be a spoof on the spoof, Go The F**k To Sleep. Except we’d holler, “GO THE FRIG TO SLEEP BEFORE I LOSE WHAT’S LEFT OF MY SANITY! AND BY THE WAY, I FREAKING LOVE YOU!”
Lately Brayden and Elias have been driving each other (and me!) bonkers. They are relentless in their bickering. Like old hags who won’t shut-up. Complaining to any poor bystander about toenail fungus and Cribbage cheaters. On autopilot. Not even hearing themselves but tormenting anyone and everyone who is unfortunate enough to be in their miserable company. Yup. Like that. But somehow worse. And it really is torture. Last night I thought my ribs would break from the tightness in my chest. They were antagonizing each other and pushing my buttons. It was unbearable. “Stop. Just STOP. Holy shit! You have to S-T-O-P! I cannot listen to this anymore!!! You are making me crazy! But I love you.”
This morning Brayden left for Nature’s Classroom. A three day excursion with the fourth grade. In the woods! My kids love the woods so this is a good, good thing. Plus, with the insanity of June — also known as the end of the school year month from hell! — percolating in the air, we are all losing our ever-loving minds. For real. A break-up in the routine may just save us until school is finally finished.
Last night we were up into the wee hours packing Brayden’s gear because, well, when your life is over scheduled you pretty much take it minute by minute. If Brayden were a Slinky Toy he’d have been springing around the house with Elias tauntingly yanking on the end of him to make him more springy! We packed. We yelled. And we fought from fatigue, frustration and complete weariness. Dripping our angst all over each other until we’d wrung ourselves dry. Only then did we efficiently get to packing. In between checking off lists and stuffing a suitcase, we sent texts to Rob who is away again working on big work things. On overdrive. Subsisting on adrenaline and virtual I love yous.
I’m excited for Brayden to go. To have a break from the daily things he shows up for and to have his own adventure. I’d also be lying if I didn’t admit that a part of me thought, “Wow, with just three of us in the house this is going to be so easy.” And maybe this is true. Probably. Yet as I focused on getting each child out of the house this morning I forgot — I forgot how young they are. How little. They have so much energy, my children. Our lives are intense and demand a lot. Each of us, in our own way, takes up a lot of space in our house. With so much space being taken up there is a feeling of largeness. A bigness that each child both expresses and demands in their own unique way. So I forget — they really aren’t big.
As I worked with Brayden to pack his boingy-self out the door he felt larger-than-life. He was exhausting. Truthfully, last night they all were exhausting. But this morning, as I gave him one last hug, he surprised me with his hesitation to leave me. He looked up at me with his soft brown eyes and said, “I’m really going to miss you, Mom.” My breath caught in my chest and my throat closed up a bit. I looked at his beautiful face, held his intent gaze and smiled confidently at him. “I’ll miss you too! And if you’re lonely at bedtime remember I’ll be thinking of you. We can be thinking of each other from afar. I’ll see you soon. I love you.”
I waved goodbye and then cried a little bit as I left the parking lot. By the time I got home I had thought of all of the things I’d wished I’d said. Reminders of his competency, his resiliency and of the many new things he’d been nervous to try but did anyway. I had thought about telling him my wish for him — that he go out and express himself and have a blast! Other things too. So many things unsaid. But when I was caught by surprise by his vulnerability, I returned to the simplest thing I know. I love you.
Categories: Tri-Umphant Living