Tag Archives: Dpchallenge

Awakened: Reliving My Childhood

The moment my kids began to explore their surroundings, I began to see the world clearly. Like seeing through much-needed eyeglasses for the first time or a dirty window wiped clean, my view finally came into focus.

Maybe I just hadn’t noticed the details in all the years since I was the young one running around barefoot chasing fireflies, sifting dirt between outstretched fingers in search of writhing earthworms, or staring in wonder at a line of ants marching like soldiers across the driveway.

Maybe as a child I never saw baby birds learn to fly. Witnessing this as an adult, I sat in the same wide-eyed wonder as my kids watching fluffy black pom-poms bounce through the grass, chirping at their mother. One by one, they flapped their wings and took off to the branch above. I couldn’t help but wonder if I were a child with no mother making me watch, would I? Were there better things to do? Is this why I missed so much as a child?

I take my time now, no rushing about. Before I had kids, I didn’t know much about outer space. No one asked me about Mars and evidence of water there, so I didn’t need to know. Now my spirit fills with wonder in a slightly different way than my son’s must when he looks at the sky and wonders whether spaceships full of Stormtroopers dart overhead.

A snail edges along a crack in our driveway and my husband could tell me for the tenth time to come in for the night. This creature hefts its top-heavy spiral shell to the side to make great strides, grasping bits of straw with its foot. I could watch it all night.land snail

A snow day from work used to mean housework, maybe a movie. Now it means bundling up in triple layers and heading outside before caffeine pulses through blood, our breath a blanket of fog as we pull sleds down the path looking for signs of deer. We make the first footprints in silvery snow that is like a fresh sheet of paper, ours to write the story of our day. I make sure to take turns on the sled too. The kids can’t have all the fun. I’m pretty sure I scream the loudest, slide the farthest.

I wedge myself in too-tight spots like a crayfish under a rock because hide-and-seek has tough rules in this house. On the field, I throw like Tim Tebow half the time, but the other half I am Drew Brees, throwing spirals 30 yards to a four-foot receiver who always makes it to the end zone.

Storytime started as a way to read to the kids but I look forward to it with such anticipation that I am the child most of the time, hearing books I never cared about when I was younger. Oh, I love that Laura Ingalls. And Bilbo Baggins, why did I shun you?

I don’t remember seeing the world through a child’s eyes all those years ago. I was so focused then on everything but. Having children to show the world to has opened up a universe of excitement, beauty, and joy to me that melted away during my 9-to-5 days sitting behind a desk.

Now that I have kids, I have an excuse to enjoy my childhood again. It’s like staying up late with your best friend, sneaking Skittles from the candy jar, and telling secrets about your brother—the best time of your life.

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Email Saves Me From My Phone

I don’t like to talk on the phone. I can hardly think of anything to say. If I do, after ten minutes, I’ve said all I can think of and squirm in my seat like a kindergartner doing schoolwork. I remember a dozen things I need to get done and try to quietly multitask. My neck gets kinked severely from holding the phone to my ear with my shoulder.

As someone who has always been able to put thoughts into written words more easily than spoken ones, email saves me. I’m a writer. When I have a moment to sit and reflect, I can remember the things that happened over the past two days: My son jumped on his bed instead of brushing his teeth last night after too much birthday celebration. My husband got mad. I quietly giggled.

My daughter melted down over her math homework. She couldn’t make the connection between the last problem and the previous nine. They were all the same. Why was that one different? I began the verge of a meltdown myself while she fussed at me. Sometimes homework really stinks and I want to cry too.

Those are the things I say in emails that I can’t think to say in a phone call that has caught me off guard. When my mom asks what’s been going on, I say, “Not much.” In the moment, I’m put on the spot. Nothing comes to mind. I need a keyboard to help the words flow.keyboard

I’ve always found emails to be a quick way to connect during the day. A moment to save if I wanted, not like a good phone call (when I have one) that’s gone as soon you hang up. Those good emails, I keep them to savor.

When my kids do something funny, I shoot my husband an email to brighten his day, like the time my son was cracking up because he heard the phrase “booby trap” and repeated “booby” over and over. Or the day my daughter saw a convertible and said, “Oh cool! That car has no lid!” Or when my son drew marker around his mouth, denied it, and then confessed he wanted to be a clown.

When my niece was born, my sister began emailing me every day, updating me about life with a baby and then life with a toddler who demanded twenty kisses every night before bed. Stories I laughed at and loved. When my son was born two years later, I shared my own: the time I walked by the bathroom and my three-year-old son was washing his hair in the sink, the time my son helped my daughter get dressed, the time my daughter said she didn’t love anybody because she didn’t get a bedtime snack. My sister and I have commiserated over the loneliness and heartache that is motherhood and shared each other’s joys.

Our phone calls to each other now sound more like war zones than a conversation: kids screaming, kids in desperate need of a snack right now, kids who can’t find the toy they haven’t played with in three years. We can’t even finish a sentence. But our emails help us stay connected.

And emails don’t interrupt, like when both kids need me at once and the onions are two seconds away from burning. One child has just fallen and scraped her knee and the other just slammed the door and yelled something, tipping you off that he is the one responsible. The phone always rings at just that time.

Sometimes I’m just better at conversation through email anyway. When I talk on the phone, I’m not always good at witty banter or saying what’s on my mind. I’m tired. There’s no awkward silence in email. My thoughts sound good in my head, but when I say them, I realize maybe I should have gone through a few drafts and revised before I said that out loud. At least typing can be deleted. And after the day I’ve had, I go through a lot of revisions.

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