Monday, February 20, 2012

Break Dancing and Dreaming of Summer

The first flowers have appeared in my yard, signalling to all the elements of the universe that the unstoppable march toward spring has officially begun. I am celebrating by hiding in my house, hooked to the internet, shopping for a beach house for a late summer family reunion. I am awash in fantasies of warm salt air, bumper cars, greasy boardwalk food, and sleeping with the windows open. There are a few good things to look forward to before that time arrives, but I always love the siren call to look toward the horizon of time and see something lovely.

My crocuses aren't the only thing blooming these days (excuse the cheesy segue). Austin went swimming at the YMCA today. My son, who used to avoid people with all his might, chose the lane next to the only other people in the pool. Not only that, but they were all first name chums by the time they left the locker room together. And making small talk is not the only skill he's working on acquiring. Saturday night at a church youth dance, I have it on good authority that he was breakdancing. Now, I love my son, but he's never been exceptionally coordinated. He does love music, though, and dances with unreserved enthusiasm. What I love is that he is so unafraid in his approach to life. I wish I could say the same about myself, but I am too shy and too afraid of looking foolish to just throw myself at new experiences the way he does. The best part is the way people accept and even embrace him. Just like the first harbingers of spring, these moments remind me that there are glorious things ahead.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Silver Lining

When I was a kid and got sick, my mom would make me corn pancakes and let me lie on the couch and watch tv. Now, I know that being sick was just as miserable then as now, but I actually have good memories of those sick days. Hopefully this isn't considered overly aberrant behavior--I'm going to tell myself that some of you feel the same way.

I asked my family what their best memories were from this past sickness. After they gave me a number of strange looks, I got some answers like: "The moment I felt better" and "When I finally stopped coughing." I had to push and prod (and endure being called a Pollyanna), but they finally came around. So here is what we loved about being sick:

1. Watching movies (lots of movies)
2. Sleeping in
3. Soup
4. Reading (lots of reading)
5. Playing Air Penguin past bedtime
6. Replacing school work with video games

My personal favorite was a night when my little one was suffering with a fever. We got some medicine in him, then he snuggled up in bed with me while we played Angry Birds until he fell asleep on my shoulder. Awesome.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Being Happy

"Hi, Mom! I'm happy!"

This is my two-year-old's current catch phrase. It is often accompanied by dancing (Snoopy-style) just to emphasize the point. He is full to the brim with joy and it is contagious (just like everything else in my house at the moment).

Why is he so happy? He was up coughing last night like the rest of us. He needs his nose wiped every few minutes like the rest of us, too. And yet, he is a living, breathing ray of sunshine. It makes me wonder what I'm missing.

There is the obvious: I'm the mom and so bear responsibility for the people in my home and I'm older with a less resilient body and less abundant energy. But I'm thinking that Oliver may be on to something that I could stand to incorporate a little more of into my life. He does not expand his moments of distress or suffering. He deals with anything negative in full measure when it arises and puts it completely behind him once it passes. He does not dwell on his bad night of sleep or worry that tonight will be equally bad. He is not concerned that he has not returned to full health yet. He feels good enough to do things that make him happy, so he pursues his happiness without reservation. What he has is a winning philosophy. Neither the weight of my adult responsibilities nor the fatigue of my aging self can justifiably stop me from following such a fine example. I will not worry about future suffering or unhappiness. There will be time enough to experience it when it catches up to me. Life is not perfect today, but it is good enough.

Yes, I'm happy!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Spring Fever and Stomach Bugs

It all started 14 days ago with sore throats and slightly runny noses. Nothing dramatic or worrisome. It seemed fairly mild, actually, for the first few days. Then the coughing and fevers started. It was pretty miserable. Then, at the peak of that misery, Austin, who had been the only healthy one up to that point, came home with a stomach virus. He was totally down for the count for 24 hours while I ran around spraying Lysol on everything in the house. It did no good. Two days later, everyone except the baby was moaning and holding their stomachs. While coughing and feverish. (I still don't know how our youngest managed it, but he appears to have avoided the stomach thing entirely.) We are still trying to train our digestive systems to work normally again, Austin is just now coming down with the respiratory mess, I feel like the whole thing is starting over on me, and Carter and John sound like a lung is coming up any minute. So we are coming to the end of week 2 of illness, with week 3 looming ahead.

The funny thing is that in the middle of all this suffering came two glorious days that felt like spring. I am always such an easy target for spring fever. One little whiff of warm air and I'm ready to pack off to the local nursery and stick my hands in some potting soil. Instead, sick though we were, we managed a walk in air so intoxicating it gave even a dismal week some sparkle. I know the weather got cold again, the groundhog apparently saw his shadow, and my family's health outlook is not the rosiest, but that one little sneak preview of spring was so potent to my susceptible little brain that I actually feel a glimmer of optimism.