Often, I start my day as a major grump, a total grouch, or a generally unhappy person. I go through my morning routine like a grumbly recluse, hoping that no one says anything to me – for both of our sakes. I often take extra time on the toilet, extra time looking at the vast nothingness of the interwebs, and extra time not acknowledging the presence of my wife and two children until I absolutely have to. Half of the time, the first words out of my mouth express my state of mind precisely, which means half the time I am a connard. Today was that kind of a day. We had to get out of the house or I might never get out of the funk that is my morning.
To make matters worse, my daughter was especially accident prone this morning. She smashed her nose, smashed her forehead, and smashed poop into her underpants while my wife and I were working at the church. Smashing. All signs pointed to why we definitely shouldn’t go to Chik-Fil-A for lunch, namely, the chances of either of our children actually eating their lunch at 1:00pm (which is still the witching hour for our two kids (might-as-well-be-naptime-but-it’s-not-because-we-aren’t-home time)). However, we still tried. Because we are self-hating parents of a four and (almost) three year old. Why not set ourselves up for public failure after Guinevere’s smashing morning?
It was at Chik-Fil-A that everything changed. Yes, my son faked a belly ache conveniently after finishing his apple juice and apple sauce, and just before starting into his chicken nuggets. But, we patiently let him lay across our laps and slowly take bites of the nuggets. Amazingly, he finished three nuggets despite the time and the circumstances.
The best part of lunch, however, was that we took the time as a family to play the game that we received in the kids meal. It was a four-player board game with a spinner. We all took turns spinning, moving, and doing the challenges on each of the challenge spaces (which included myself walking on my tiptoes around the restaurant…which I did with pride). My son won, which is a good thing, since he is the first child, meaning he is still pretty sure he should win at everything. Why does this matter?
We took our time.
We stayed in the moment.
We ignored the clock and just hung out as a family.
I need more of this. More time simply being in space and time with my family, and less time wondering when naptime or bedtime is so that I can get on to the things I need to accomplish. I had no such things today. In fact, this evening, I let my wife go grocery shopping alone (for those of you without kids, this is a gift, not a chore) while I hung out with the kids. We played more of the board game. We danced in Obi’s room to Band of Horses. I played songs for them on the guitar while they danced, played, and drew pictures. It was like being in the Sound of Music on it was real life and it was easy and fun and good. My wife called and told me I should rent Home Alone as she was bringing dinner home – so we could watch that holiday classic and eat pizza and wonder at how we ever were allowed to watch a film with such questionable content and language when we were little.
I’m still as exhausted as usual, but not nearly as connard-ly as I started the day. The funny thing is, all it took was for me to stop worrying about time, and just be with who I am with when I am with them. Life’s not really a mystery…it’s just difficult to be present most of the time, which means we miss out on all the time with which we can construct relationships and memories into the future.