Savoring and Surviving

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Last night I was well reminded of the time back when the kids were little…
I brought home 2 leftover Yahoo chocolate milk drink boxes from a meeting. I gave one to Katherine and one to Wil (Elizabeth declined). Elizabeth likes to help me make dinner so we set out to do that. Elizabeth got out a large pot, filled it with water, added a pinch of sea salt and got it to a boil, while I put a frypan on the stove, and put on some chicken sausages. All was under control so I told Elizabeth I was going to run downstairs to the laundry room to switch the wash while she took care of the noodles we had just put in the pot.
When I entered the laundry room I stopped in my tracks. There was spattered Yahoo chocolate milk everywhere. I mean everywhere. It was spattered high up on the cabinets almost to our ceiling (which is 9 feet high). It was spattered across the top of the wash machine and the dryer. It was spattered across the neatly folded clean clothes that now would need to be re-washed. And when I looked down I saw small puddles of Yahoo chocolate milk in the laundry sink. I was mesmerized both by the trajectory of this little drink box as well as it’s quantity. And I immediately knew the culprit. Wil. I could see what Wil had tried to do. He tried to squirt the box empty into the laundry sink and clearly it had gone awry. Actually, awry for me who would be on clean up duty. Wil likely had tons of fun when he realized what this little box could do. I called him downstairs to the laundry room. “What happened, Wil? Did you try to empty your drink in the sink?”
“Humpf,” he replied with shrugged shoulders.
“Wil, come on. It’s ok if you didn’t want it. But you need to ask me if you need help. This is everywhere. Even on the clean clothes. Here’s a cloth, let’s clean this up.”
I wet our washcloths and started wiping everything down. Once the top of the dryer was clean, I grabbed the laundry from the dryer in a heap, threw it on top of the dryer, then pulled all of the wash out and put that in the dryer. Katherine came down to see if we needed help and I asked her to check on Elizabeth to see if she needed help. She ran upstairs, then Wil and I loaded the no-longer-clean folded clothes in the wash machine. What seemed like seconds later, Katherine yelled down the stairs that Elizabeth needed help NOW. I ran up the stairs two at a time, and found the cheese tortellini had over-expanded the pot and Elizabeth was holding a bowl full of half-cooked tortellini she pulled from the pot while other escape artist tortellini slid down the side of the pot and stuck sizzling on the stove top. The chicken sausage I had started was developing a char. I gave the sausage a quick turn, drained the tortellini, and by now Wil had made it up the stairs and pulled out his chair at the kitchen table. He must have grabbed it crookedly, because the maplewood chair had somehow caught an angle and it banged to the ground making a decent-sized scratch in the hardwood floor on it’s descent. Wil not liking big, sudden noises stood there in shock, hands clamped over his ears, tears welling in his eyes.
The tortellini taken care of, the chicken sausage turned, and the chair righted, all three of us instantly went to work on calming Wil because he doesn’t always come back from these loud noise experiences easily. Elizabeth had the magic antidote: she promised she was going to make brownies after dinner and give him the first one. Tears instantly replaced with a big smile, “thanks Lizabefth.”
We all sat down, the girls and I looked at each other, took a deep breath and started laughing. “Phew, now that was a whirlwind! Thanks for all of your help! Do you know, when you guys were little, every day was like this. You three were always going in three different directions. It’s strange. I remember that so much, but I forgot how it really feels. You make life so easy now, you are so independent.” Then we went on to share stories about when they were little.
It’s kind of ironic, now that my kids are older, this time is when I truly savor those earlier days. I look back with a smile on my face at the craziness of it all. Of the cuteness, the sweetness, the pureness. But, the true feel of that whirlwind has faded over time and every once in a while is brought back in moments like tonight. How living in that time, it’s more about survival than it is about savoring. It is a living minute to minute. It is full of unpredictability and constant movement. It’s kind of backwards from how we are told to perceive it. When our kids are little, we hear time and again, “Savor these moments, they go by so fast.” As the twins are only 20 months older than Wil, this whirlwind of activity was my only constant. I enjoyed my kids so much, but savoring that time is just not the right word. It sounds much too zen, too reflective. Heck, if I had any time to sit back and reflect, I would instantly fall asleep. I remember my husband waking me up when I would sit down in the Lazy-boy and immediately fall asleep sitting up!
It is with good intentions that we are told to savor this time because it goes so fast. It really does. But, my goodness, when you are in the middle of it, it’s hard to look past the next minute let alone contemplating the notion of stepping back to savor anything. As time goes on, and the true feeling of the whirlwind starts to fade, and we actually have time to take a step back and observe, savor and soak it all in, it’s good every once in awhile to be reminded of just exactly how that whirlwind felt. So that when I see a fellow mother or father with their little multiple ones trying to hold on for dear life, I won’t wistfully say, Oh savor this moment it goes so fast. Rather, I will give them one heck of a knowing smile and say, “You are doing a fantastic job! Keep it up!”

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