I used to LOVE Professional Development Days. No holiday parades, no special traditions, nothing to celebrate… just a regular, old Monday to the rest of the world, but a special treat for me. Perhaps it is a sadistic streak, but somehow it seemed MORE fun to have a day off of school when all the adults still had to work.
*Maniacal laugh. *Maniacal laugh.
Now the tables are turned.
Until today, I have had a flexible schedule and we usually manage to find something fun and special to do on Pro-D days. But now, I have a class I cannot miss, a husband who works in the city and very little patience for this crimp in my routine. We juggled and rearranged and made it work somehow, but I wasn’t exactly feeling the “special day” vibe.
This morning I rushed home from class, wrestled B onto the potty, obsessed about my upcoming Psych paper, debated the merits of wearing pants, lectured on completing homework BEFORE the very last minute, finally got everyone INTO pants, and pulled together lunch for three picky eaters (okay, fine, four picky eaters, but I’m the cook so it’s my right).
Suffice it to say, I felt naps all around would be a fun and special way to enjoy the day.
But they wanted an adventure. They wanted to DO something. They wanted to spend time with me. They were even willing to get out of the house and get some fresh air to do it.
If you have indoor kids like mine, who generally prefer reading, puzzles, crafts, talking on the phone, drawing… basically anything that doesn’t require them to get dirty or break a sweat, you know that you have to capitalize on these moments. It’s rare that I don’t have to force it. I like to set the timer: 1/2 – 1 hour and they are not to come back in until it is over. Sometimes they get into the spirit of things and forget to sneak back in, but all too often the time is spent staring mournfully through the sliding glass door and counting down the seconds. Huck Finn, eat your heart out!
Some of you may think I’m making this up. I’m not. While you are bribing and pleading and cajoling your children to read or sit still for just a few minutes, I’m doing the opposite. We all have our crosses to bear.
Fortunately, I understand this quiet/bookworm/homebody thing. After all, they probably get it from me.
But, I’m a grown up now. I know that it is good for everyone to get some exercise. I know we must enjoy every precious non-rainy moment the Pacific Northwest has to offer. I know we’ll feel better and they will fight less. So, I set aside my brilliant “napping” plan.
Today’s adventure consisted of a trip to a local playground and some geocaching in our neighbourhood (geocaching is like an online treasure hunt with GPS co-ordinates to follow). As we set out there were high spirits, joking and singing. And then there was me, dragging my feet and cursing the composer of the Duck song. “Heeeey! Bum, bum, bum.. Got any grapes?” If I never hear it again, it will be too soon.
With the offspring happily playing at the park, I did what any modern mother would do. I whipped out my iPhone and started checking up on the world. I could hear them laughing in the background as I clicked links on Facebook. An amazing article on a blog called Enjoying the Small Things.
It was uplifting. It said, “pay attention to what matters most.” It was inspiring. It reminded me to… Dance. Laugh. Enjoy each moment.
That’s when it hit me – I suck.
At life. Today, I suck at life.
Here I am, in a rare moment of sunshine, in the middle of the day, with my happy children who are actually enjoying each other. Instead of appreciating it, I am counting down the minutes until I can get back home to “get stuff done.” Instead of jumping in, I am huddled off to the side fiddling around with my iPhone, reading about other people’s lives.
I felt myself blush as I clicked off my phone, looking around to see if anyone caught my moment of personal douchebaggery.
If so, I hope they stuck around to see this middle-aged lady catch some serious air on the swings. Also, riding the see-saw for the first time in several decades. My almost 12-year-old can actually hold her own against me, though I’m pretty sure I bruised my butt. Just like the mature, dignified woman my parents raised me to be.
We hiked for blocks and blocks to find a new cache at the Royal Legion, which gave birth to a great discussion about veterans, memorials and death. We found a coin from the Rotary Club and talked about serving others.
We picked up sticks.
We crunched through leaves
We sang the Muppets theme song.
We made the day special.
I spend a lot of time feeling like I am the one serving my children; that motherhood is another duty on a long list of things to do. Today they reminded me that life is for living. While the rest of the schmucks slogged their way through ordinary, for those few hours I really lived.
I don’t think I need to wait for another Pro-D day to do it either.
So here’s me, do-do do-do-do, do do-do do… Mahna Mahna!