Friday, November 16, 2012

The Day Everything (Well, Almost) Went Right

With Thanksgiving around the corner, the season of being grateful is upon us. It is a time to reflect on family, health, work, love, and other aspects of our life for which we feel blessed. But instead of focusing on one of these significant areas, I decided that I wanted to show gratitude for something very, very mundane -- something micro rather than macro -- a single day during which everything (well, almost) went right.

Last Sunday started with my sons and I sleeping in. Okay, as much sleeping in as is possible in a household with two young boys. As it was the first Sunday since the school year began that we did not have a football game -- Christopher's third- and fourth-grade team lost in the league Super Bowl the previous week by two points! -- we could all hang around the house in our pajamas as long as we so desired.

In fact, it was the first weekend day in SEVEN weeks that we had not had an activity or appointment requiring us to leave the house in the morning. We had driven to Boston the day before to meet one of our half-sibling families -- the half-sister and half-brother of my boys (via their anonymous-donor father) and their two moms -- at the Museum of Science. Previous to that, football practice had been moved to Saturday mornings due to a sundown-to-sunrise outdoor-activity ban resulting from a horse in a neighboring town being testing positive for a mosquite-borne illness. Oh, and a dentist appointment was thrown in there as well.

With nothing to do, I felt no pressure last Sunday to check the status of Chris's uniform first thing, i.e. was it clean? I felt no pressure to get a load of laundry going so it would be dry in time for the late morning practice followed by the game. I felt no pressure to make my son a hearty helping of scrambled eggs and bacon or toast to fortify him for playing defense. And basketball hadn't started yet.

It was that rare weekend between intense sports seasons when parents can actually breathe. Indeed, we were in kickback mode.


But then while leisurely emptying the dryer in the basement storage room, I noticed a pipe leaking. NOOO! Not just dripping, it was leaking copper-stained water in a steady thin stream accumulating on the floor. Hastily, I fetched and threw down numerous towels. I discovered a valve near the leak was loose unlike one in the same position on the other side of it. I couldn't imagine how that had happened since I hadn't touched it, and no one else had been in there. Of course, I considered tightening the valve in the complex, antiquated system but -- not being a plumber or heating expert -- I wanted to check with the professionals first. I certainly didn't want to do anything wrong in case the valve was supposed to be open. Well, I am happy to report I stopped the leak myself after speaking to the heating-company owner and being told to tighten the valve.

Phew! That was fortunate. We didn't have to spend the next hour or more waiting for a technician to arrive, fix the problem, and charge me an arm and a leg for the visit.

My boys were getting along very well on this day for some reason. They didn't fight. I believe it may have been because we were just coming off a particularly rough patch with Charlie acting too aggressive toward Christopher and me being too cranky while trying to manage the situation plus too tired from repeatedly staying up too late on Facebook.

A case of too many toos, in other words.

Around noontime a neighbor called to ask if my sons wanted to play with her son, a first-grader like Charlie. The boys eagerly said yes. They got dressed and met him in our driveway a few minutes later. For the next several hours, they entertained themselves in our cul-de-sac, alternating between riding bikes, scooters, and a skateboard. Charlie did a lot of fast running as usual, and Christopher and the neighbor raced each other on bikes.

We had a tense few minutes when a rough child showed up to join in the play. I watched through the front window then moved outside for a better view from a white Adirondack chair planted in our front yard. Shortly, he was scooped up by car and driven away.

Dodged another bullet! Yay.

My sons and the neighbor moved into our backyard where I suggested they build a giant leaf pile to jump in. I got a miniature rake and hoe out of the shed, and Charlie found the two sets of yellow "bear claws" in another storage area attached to the house. The boys worked hard on the leaf mound, took breaks on our swing set, and enjoyed the fruits of their labor by running and hurling themselves joyfully into the soft brown pile while I snapped their pictures.

While most of this was going on, I was inside putting away laundry. Way overdue and not fun at all . . . yet necessary. The football schedule had been so demanding that basic chores around the house had fallen so far by the wayside they were lying in a ditch! I put away four or five GIANT piles of laundry this day.

That felt GOOOOD!

When the boys were famished from playing, I made lunch. Turkey sandwiches with mayonnaise or mustard for my boys and mustard only (no turkey) for the neighbor. That's the sandwich he wanted, I SWEAR! In fact, he liked it so much he asked for and got a second. Truth be told: He wanted a THIRD! But I reasoned that three French's classic yellow mustard sandwiches might be a bit much. Might, just might give this six year old a tummy ache. So I suggested cookies for dessert instead.

Kids are SO funny!

Next Charlie had the idea to set up some oversized white plastic bowling pins in the street. To make it more interesting, the kids rolled the ball down our sloping driveway toward the pins. Since the driveway surface is rough, the royal blue plastic bowling ball invariably veered off course.

Okay, the game became less interesting and more frustrating.

Things began to wind down, and that was good because it was fast approaching the time we needed to leave to make our 4:30 p.m. commitment in Waltham. Charlie brought out his Nintendo DSi XL to show the neighbor his newest game. I could have said no to turning to technology on a beautiful, warm fall day. Yet the boys had creatively played outdoors in a multitude of ways for hours on end by that point, and the neighbor would be heading home shortly. So I allowed it.

I enjoy attending monthly gatherings of the Boston chapter of Single Mothers by Choice and have been doing so on and off for a long time. In fact, next month marks a full decade since my first meeting. They may not be exciting, but they are important to me as they provide me with a community of single mothers I don't have in my town. My boys have grown up with the children of some of these mothers, and I enjoy catching up with those I have known for many years. In the early days of single motherhood, I needed the group to answer my questions or relay experiences that could help me as I undertook raising one then two infants alone. But for many years now, my motivation for attending meetings has been social and to give back to the group by providing my answers and experiences to those thinking or trying to become mothers, those who are pregnant, and those who are parents of babies or young children.

It was time for "Revenge," my favorite TV drama, when we returned from the meeting in Waltham, having picked up dinner at McDonald's on the way home.

I am very grateful for last Sunday -- a simple, happy day. Now you might think: But she had a leaking pipe, and a rough boy interrupted the sweet playdate. Yes, that is true. However, both problems were averted, and that's why it was a great day.

The reality is there are snags in my life every single day. Some of them become bigger situations to handle, and sometimes I get lucky like I did this time around.

Blessed is the day that is slower-paced and more relaxing. Amen.

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