A lazy afternoon on a lazy day. Daughter is lying on the living room floor, happily pawing at a rattle. Son has just finished his afternoon resting time. His snack, peach and blueberries, sits on the table undisturbed. Usually he would inhale this snack in a matter of seconds, but instead he makes a bee-line for Daughter.
“Don’t you want your snack?”, I say.
“I want to cuddle with [Daughter]”, he says.
He lies down next to her. She looks up and tries to grab his face, but he stays there, quietly, out of reach, just watching her. She smiles at him. I watch them and try to imagine them four years from now, when Daughter is Son’s age. I hope they get along more often than not. I hope they dream and scheme together. For now, I’m glad for this rare moment, when they’re both happy at the same time, together.
The mid-afternoon sun is hazy today, which gives the day an orangey glow. The park is on top of a hill. I can see a river and hills beyond. Looking at the view, seeing over the trees, I feel freer, like I have more room to breathe.
Son has the sandbox at the park all to himself. He’s right in the middle of it, excavating and building sandcastles quietly, totally absorbed in the task. Grandma and I are sitting with Daughter on one side of the sandbox. Daughter is content, sucking on her bib, watching Son play.
We start talking about a boy who threw sand in Son’s face. Son asks Grandma for a story about when someone was mean to her.
Grandma tells Son a story from when she was about his age. She had a friend who was sometimes mean and sometimes nice, and one day she walked home from the girl’s house and the girl tried to stop her.
I think of Grandma at Son’s age, and how just a little turn of the dial made her my mother, and another turn, Son’s grandmother. I think how similar we all are, despite our apparent differences, wandering in this wilderness, trying to figure out what it all means.
Son goes back to playing, Grandma cuddles Daughter close, and we sit together some more.
Son is having a meltdown. It’s the end of the week, it’s hot and it’s right before dinner; all a recipe for disaster. Grauntie (Great Aunt) is visiting, it’s time for her to leave and he doesn’t want her to go. We’ve been trying everything to help him through his tears, but his feelings are big and they keep welling up.
Finally, we sit on the couch, me on one side of him and Grauntie on the other. I say, “let’s love you up”, I kiss his sweaty head and Grauntie joins in. I’m not sure if he’ll push us away. It’s hard to tell what he needs sometimes. But, he’s facing me and I can see him relax, see his dark eyes start to sparkle. Then Grauntie tickles him gently with a little stuffed sheep and makes a funny noise. Son starts to laugh. His laughter is bright as sunshine bursting through dark clouds. All of us breathe a sigh of relief. The sheep tickles me and I laugh too.
Today it’s the weight of the blackberry I held before bursting its sweetness on my tongue. It’s the hour I had to myself while Daughter napped and Son was at school. It’s the sweet kiss from Husband after dinner, before kids’ bedtime. And the cool air coming in our screen door after a hot, hot day.
Walking with Daughter from our living room to the stairs and back again. Cool air wafts in through the open door and windows. A beam of light from Husband in the office rests on the floor. The dishwasher quietly whirs the dishes clean for tomorrow. The counters are wiped clean.
Even though I’m still walking, part of me rests in the solitude of the moment. The endless “to-do” lists that cycle through my mind stop for a moment. I breathe in the satisfaction of a (kind of) clean kitchen, a day in which everyone was fed and cared for, and exhale relief.
Daughter and I are walking outside. The sun has set and evening is slowly turning to night. I’m trying to get her to sleep, though her curious eyes peeking over the straps of the carrier tell me this is probably a lost cause. Still, the air is cool and it’s nice to be out after a hot day inside.
Daughter is watching the world the way I watch a favourite movie, she barely blinks, not wanting to miss a moment. For my part, though I notice the soft pink and blue of the sky, the hopping robins and dive-bombing dragonflies, I am looking into other people’s houses, with almost the same intensity as Daughter. Since it’s hot, some people keep their blinds open and I can see bits and pieces of their lives; flashes of art on walls, bags dropped by doorways. I can even see some people, an older lady watching TV, a little girl laughing with her father. I don’t know what I love about this so much. I’m partly looking for decorating ideas. I’m horrible at home decor and I want to see what other people have done with their places. But I also love getting a glimpse of a private moment in someone else’s world. There’s such poetry, somehow, in the flickering television, the abandoned toys, the shoes by the door. I think of all my neighbours eating, breathing, hoping and dreaming and silently wish them all a good night’s sleep.
Daughter is lying on her changing pad, looking out the window. This is one of her favourite spots. She can happily spend thirty minutes here sometimes; just gazing.
I kiss her cheek, then lay mine on hers so that I’m looking in the same direction she is. I feel the softness of her cheek on mine, while I see the world from her perspective. The startling blue of the sky contrasting with the vivid green of the leaves. And the sun shining through it all, painting shadows on the blinds.
I hold my breath for a second, wanting to hold on to the beauty of it all. The surprising beauty of an ordinary day.
The sun glints briefly through the leaves as my fingers brush them. I reach up to the highest branch, then wrap my fingers around a plump, purple berry. Time slows and I can almost hear the breath of the plants around me. For this moment, there is nothing but berry, leaf, and the sky beyond. My chatterbox brain is silent and my worries fall away.
The Saskatoon berries are ripe. Son and I have been prowling the little patch of woods by our house, waiting for them. In the meantime, he’s been eating his way through the Huckelberries and Salmonberries. Today, the Saskatoons are finally ripe and we’re excited to try them.
I grew up on the edge of a city in the prairies. My parents were both raised on farms and knew a lot about plants. A family walk would always be punctuated with stops to point out the Edelweiss or nibble on a rose-hip. In a place with a very short growing season, we would eat any edible berries growing wild with relish. Especially Saskatoons. My mom loved Saskatoon berries. She grew up in the same city and they were a childhood treat for her. We grew some in our garden and would also pick them in a ravine near our house. I remember walking to the ravine in the summer and coming home with full buckets of berries. We’d eat some berries and my mom would make a pie with the rest. So they’re a childhood treat for me too.
Saskatoons are less common where I live now. There’s only one little bush in these woods. Son and I won’t get buckets of them, just enough for a few of his snacks. But I’m glad that they will be part of son’s childhood too.
A lovely gem of a Sunday. Breakfast at a favourite restaurant, followed by Son playing with abandon at a nearby park. The perfect mix of activity and laziness, with minimal tantrums by any of us.
At the end of the day, Husband and I manage to convene in our living room, cuddled together with heads on the nursing pillow, as usual. The light shines on his face and I trace it over his cheekbones as he chats to me about something he’s interested in. I feel my eyelids begin to droop, the warmth and comfort of the moment pulling me gently towards sleep.
What’s your favourite moment today? What are you grateful for?
Daughter is cuddled next to me in our bed when Son comes in the room, first thing in the morning. The curtains are still drawn, the light muted. Son knows now to whisper whatever he says to us when he comes in, just in case Daughter still needs to sleep. Bless his heart.
Daughter is waking up anyway, so I invite him in, using my normal voice. He climbs onto the bed and stretches out beside Daughter. When I was still pregnant with Daughter, I was worried about bringing a sibling into Son’s life. He seemed so afraid of what would happen and dead-set against the idea of having a sibling. Now, he loves her. He doesn’t always love the attention she grabs away from him, but he loves her.
Daughter smiles at him when she hears his voice and coos to him. She reaches for him, grabbing his face, and he doesn’t even mind. He just giggles and tries to get her to do it again.
Husband comes in and curls up at the bottom of the bed. He jokes with Son and smiles at Daughter. We chat lazily. A perfect Saturday morning.