I started this post a couple of weeks ago, following a hysterical misstep from my boyfriend. I am revisiting (and completing it) mostly because we are void of the Moose this week. When he is gone, I think of him constantly. I miss his voice. His stories. I look through my phone daily, rewatching silly videos of him and gazing at the pixels of his sweet face. What I miss the most, I cannot recreate. I miss the weight of him in my lap. The feel of his soft hair on my nose. The smell of that hair. The gentle irritation in his voice as he requests I stop touching his hair.
I sat in Mass Sunday morning, enjoying the cacophony of children’s squeals in the echo of the parish. The tiny humans in the pews surrounding me giving me smiles and giggles. I watched as they climbed all over their parents throughout the service. My own arms aching for the feel of my kiddo utilizing me as his personal entertainment.
When he is gone for a week, enjoying the holiday with his father- my feelings are selfish. Bear in mind, I use this description at face value. Not to inhabit guilt. The feelings are “concerned with ones own pleasure”. I miss him for me. He’s having a blast. Visiting grandparents. Opening presents. Playing with his favorite thing on the planet- the illustrious VR headset. He is happy. My touch of melancholy is for me alone.
Said tinges of gray within my otherwise blue skies are not all encompassing. Though I have an internal countdown clock to the day he is returned home, I have work and a lovely human to fill my time. I get to enjoy grown up movies with my male person. I get to sleep when I want to without having to wrangle an energetic moppet to bed first. I can curse with abandon when venting about clients-no concern for impressionable ears in the next room.
This week, I am a case study in holding contradicting emotions concurrently. I miss my sidekick. I am also happy.
Now that we have the ambling prologue completed, I endeavor to complete the draft staring at me. Beckoning me to immerse myself in it once again.
Children are monsters. It isn’t their intention to be agents of chaos, it is merely their nature. They are overtaken by waves of big emotions without any sort of logic or wisdom to navigate them. The world is large and they have little to no control within it. Their constant state of being is attempting to locate pockets of control of their own universe as well as ingest the vast quantities of data and experiences thrust upon them daily. All of this merges at an apex of meltdowns and tantrums. Whining. A loss of sanity for parents.
It isn’t their fault (always) that they are tiny goblins. Life it difficult. Hell, I am 37 years old and haven’t perfected maneuvering through life without the occasional meltdown myself. Despite their shortcomings with emotional regulation, they are magnificent creatures. Inquisitive. Forgiving. Bold. They see the beauty in things we have lost sight of. They see magic where we see mistakes.
Recently, we have had a man enter into cohabitation with us. He has loved us unyieldingly for over two years. And at some point, against all self-preservation, he decided he loved us enough to want to see our faces daily. We silently shared the expectation of uncomfortable growing pains. Subtle discomforts in the process of combining our lives. Moose did not share in these reservations. He excitedly declared he was “part of the family” immediately. He adjusted as if this was the most natural thing in the world. We realized, to our amazement, that we regulated similarly.
It has been my experience for the last six years that all things funnel down to me. Cooking. Cleaning. Shopping. To-do lists. I am often overwhelmed. Most of the things in my management weren’t delegable. That reality has shifted. Beginning with a Christmas tree.
My other half saw the overwhelm wash across my face as I chatted about the things I needed to accomplish. The negotiations of time and activities tumbling out of my mouth. Without hesitation, he offered to grab us a Christmas tree on his day off. Effortlessly removing the task from my arms. I agreed immediately. Relieved at the small release of pressure. I quickly rattled off what I had done previously. Store. Dimensions. The basics. He diligently filed the information away.
Maybe too diligently.
The afternoon of the procurement, I received a text message. It unpretentiously declared the tree to be a bit sleepy. A photo followed. He wasn’t wrong. It was tired, to say the least. But complaints could not be found. He had taken a task off of my shoulders. I was grateful.
Later that evening, Moose and I returned home. Weary from the week of work and education. Glad to be in the comfort of home on a Friday night. I sluggishly walked through the house, preparing a weekend bag for the child, as his father would be picking him up. As I rounded the corner into the living room, there it stood. The most laughably pitiful tree I have seen in reality. As my eyes beheld it’s shabby attempt at filling the stand with Christmas cheer, the procurer approached from the opposite end declaring it as a Charlie Brown tree. Again, he wasn’t wrong.
The pitiful fire hazard had to be returned.
Between seizing cackling and hushed tones, I convinced him that the tree could-and should– be exchanged for one that had been alive in the recent decade. This future kindling had fulfilled its purpose. From the sofa, in his most heartfelt tone, Moose declared his love of the Christmas tree. His thanks for acquiring it. He told us how beautiful it was.
He is pure. His love true. This tree shed pounds of needles at the mere suggestion of someone breathing near it. Yet, this child had true excitement over it. He didn’t see it’s flaws. He didn’t see what we saw. He beheld beauty. Christmas magic.
When asked if he would like a different tree, he emphatically answered no. He seemed hurt at the thought. I asked if he would like a larger tree. He innocently told me that if I watered it, it would grow larger. I jumped on this idea. I told him that was precisely what we would do. While he was away for the weekend, we would care for this tree and allow it to grow larger. Stronger.
It wasn’t a lie. It was embellished storytelling.
Before his return, we embarked on the task of putting this Charlie Brown tree to rest. Home Depot was alive with giggles. Customer Service. Checkout. The two of us. We returned home triumphant. Affixed the new, viable tree within the stand and awaited the tiny humans’ return.
As soon as he entered the house, he enthusiastically affirmed the tree’s growth as he gazed upon it’s majesty. He thanked us for taking such good care of it. Announced how well we did.
This journey began the lineage of memories we will laugh about for years to come. It fills me with joy. Not only for the laughter. The shared experience. The memory of someone I love trying to make my life a little easier. But for seeing the world through the eyes of a genuinely kind child. To bear the sincere authenticity of the human I bore.
At times, the daily challenges weigh me down. Allow doubt into my soul- undermining any confidence in my abilities as a mother. I frequently fixate on the areas in which I may be lacking. The ways in which I may be failing. It is in these dark moments that I cling to the unprompted declarations of love and empathy from my offspring. He gets distracted. Struggles with big feelings. Whines. Argues. Can be weighted down by perfectionism. Those things will never compare to how much he cares. His heart. His joy. His inclusion. His thankfulness for me. His family. His life. This is true Christmas magic. The ability to see the world through their eyes. The things we have done unequivocally right.