My winter break felt like it was a bit of a dud. That’s how I was feeling the other day as I faced preparing myself to return to work. My husband was shortchanged out of any time off at all, save for Christmas, so I was home with the children most of the time cleaning up the holiday wreckage and waiting for some relatives to get to town who were delayed by car trouble. When it dawned on me that my time off was winding down and I had spent precious little time with my husband, I felt cheated. My focus could not waiver from his co-worker who had selfishly written herself off for three weeks, this woman who has no children but needed time off because her nephew was visiting from the distant land of Nebraska. I sank into a profound disappointment as I waited for Mark to come home on New Year’s Eve, and again on January 1.
My waylaid step-brother and family did finally get to town to my relief, as my son had been begging and begging and begging to know when he would be able to see his cousins. I arranged a for sleepover and he was ecstatic. He sees my nephews so seldom and they are way cool and so very sweet to him. And the next morning, as I was washing up dishes from our massive pancake breakfast, Nolan asked my how much longer his cousins would get to stay, and became utterly despondent when I told him that they would leave that afternoon. My heart sank as his shoulders slumped and his smile fell and he uttered sad protests.
“Oh baby, please, please don’t be sad…you’ll wish your time away. They’re here now, why don’t you play with them and be happy now.” But his mind was on a course toward if-only, and it stayed with him for a bit.
When Mark came home from work last night, I gave voice to my disappointment over our time that I felt had been squandered away. I had worked pretty hard over my twelve days off but had accomplished little, we had so little time together, not so much as a New Year’s toast…
“But you have to try to be happy,” he urged, ever patient, ever encouraging. “The good times are now, when do we get to start enjoying them?”
And there it dawned on me that we were in practically the same spot in the kitchen where I had been giving our son the same talk earlier, and it felt hard to let this advice in, just as hard as it must have been for Nolan.
With each passing year the similarities in our temperaments become more evident to me and it troubles me a bit. I wonder, is this state of discontent learned or inherited? I try to restrict my conversation to happy kid-talk around my children, but does he sometimes pick up on my grumblings of discontentment? Or is it some errant gene, passed from me to him, which so easily creates the furrow in his brow and pensive nature?
Over time my clouds lifted, as did his. We are having such a pleasant weekend, he enjoying his new games, and I exploring in the kitchen and planning blogs. Everything feels so easy now. To capture this contentment, and model it for my children as often as I can – this is my wish for the coming year.