My dream has always been to become a mother, and to be able to stay home to raise my children. That dream is being realized every day, and I feel so blessed to be living it, even when I think I'm being stretched to my limits in the process.
However, I must admit that I've wondered, more than once, what it's like to come home to the kids at the end of a long, hard day and be so ecstatic to see them after the long absence that any past annoyances with them are temporarily washed away. So far, it's only happened to me once, after spending almost two days away to visit family in Pittsburgh. Even then, though, it wasn't a typical coming-home-at-the-end-of-the-day-scenario. I'd been away for almost 48 hours, grieving my lost grandfather, and wishing that the rest of my family was with me. Of course I was anxious to see everyone again.
My experience today was more akin to what I might expect. I was away from Tom and the elder two (Mia was with me, as always, since I am still her only food source) from about 1:00 pm to 10:00 pm, about nine hours. I traveled to Maryland to visit my parents' home, where my brother and his wife are staying for a couple of days, and to finally meet my new (and only) nephew. In the evening we all attended a reception to celebrate my father's upcoming ordination as a Deacon in the Catholic Church.
The scenario still was not typical, since I spent that time with one of my babies, and was so focused on her that it was hard to miss the other two. When I came back home, it was long after they'd gone to bed, so I won't actually reunite with them until morning. But one lesson I did learn, somewhat painfully, was this: when you're away, even for just a day, sometimes you miss stuff. Good stuff.
And here's what I missed today:
Tom took a long walk with both kiddos to keep them occupied and noticed a car in the driveway of the house recently left unoccupied by the out-of-state move of our neighbor-friends. We're still so sad that they've gone, but we learned from them that a family with a new baby will be moving into their old home in their absence. Based on the parked car, Tom thought the new family might already be in residence and wanted to introduce himself. As it turned out, the family had not yet moved in, but a relative was there helping to set up ahead of time and informed Tom that we'd have new neighbors in about a month. She chatted with Tom for a bit, and then Tom encouraged the children to say goodbye. Michael grunted, and Abby refused, but as they pulled away, Abby turned to Tom and asked, "Who's that in Abby-down-the-street's house?"
As it turns out, Abby's not quite old enough to really understand that she's "lost" a friend (to the move), but she definitely picked up on the fact that things are not as they once were. Heart. Breaking.
After the walk, Tom filled two sippy cups with water, and handed one to each child. Michael gulped his down in an instant, but Abby didn't have much interest in hers. Feeling tired himself, Tom didn't have much energy to get up and refill Michael's, even though he still seemed thirsty, and figured that if Abby hadn't drunk any of hers by that time, she probably didn't intend to. So, while she wasn't looking, he poured some water out of Abby's cup into Michael's, and handed it over, whispering "Shh. Don't tell your sister."
Michael grinned and drank down a second helping.
A few minutes later, Michael began to shift his eyes between Tom and Abby's remaining water supply. Feeling both amused and guilty, but eager to engage in Michael's little game ('cause he's too darned cute to resist), Tom took the rest of Abby's water and transferred it to Michael, emphasizing that it was a "secret" all the while. I hear that the look of triumph on Michael's face as he was handed back his cup was priceless, and while I can easily picture it, I so dearly wish I had been present to witness it first-hand.
As everyone was winding down for the night, Gracie the Cat appeared in the living room, prompting Michael to chant "Kitty! Kitty!" Taking a cue from Tom's and my recent behavior, Abby said to Michael, "Michael, you said Kitty! High five, Buddy!" And he did. (Squeeee!)
As if that wasn't enough, a few minutes later, Michael began to say "Kitty" again, and once again, Abby congratulated him. "Very good, Michael! High five!" This time, Michael was too distracted to take her up on her offer, so she grabbed his hand and did it for him.
I'm dying over here, I really am. Clearly, I can't ever spend another day away again.