It has been many days, too many, since my husband and I were together with all three of our children; as they grow it feels our lives are more and more bifurcated between the activities of the older two, the baby’s nap, and our own responsibilities or interests. When my eldest was a baby, our weekends were long lazy affairs, dictated by afternoon siestas and visits to museums. Now, as my husband’s career has expanded along with our family, and my varied passions carry me from dance studio to yoga studio to sneaking in an hour of reading, we rarely see each other for sustained amounts of time.
Sadly, this is exactly the opposite of what we had always promised one another. Crazed schedules, not enough time for sex and doing nothing – that was for “other” people, you know, the yuppies and the overly ambitious. Oh dear… how did we wind up becoming the people we used to smugly judge? Perfect karmic retribution, I suppose.
The last few weeks have revealed to us just how out of sync we truly are with the manner in which we want to live our lives and how we actually live them. There is a way, difficult though it may be, to do less and be together more. Ironically, finding that path actually takes more planning than simply succumbing to the pull of the over-scheduled life, but we are working on it.
Yesterday, a windy, warm Sunday morning, offered a glimpse of what such a life might feel like. We spent the morning at the park, being tossed around by the wind and swinging at the playground under a bright winter sun.
My youngest got heavy drowsy eyes from the lull of the swing and the murmuring voices around her. So tender, a little body feeling safe enough to rest anywhere; wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all felt so trusting?
And for the briefest and happiest of moments, Somber Child (who is actually smiling in this photo, a first) and his adoring little sister stopped their unending arguments, held hands, and played tag with another child, racing from swing to teeter-totter to slide and back again.
My five year old expertly demonstrated, over and over again, that going down a slide backward and on one’s belly is superior to the pedestrian, traditional form of sliding. Her face in the sunlight opened like a morning glory.
When it was time to go home my little daughter rebelled, preferring instead to sit on the sidewalk with her legs askew in their impossibly flexible “W” position and play with an interesting stick she had just stolen from her brother.
I love the lessons of the park and playground: sticks are interesting (they are); one can collaborate on spontaneous and fantastic games with strangers; the grass is softer than any carpet and sand provides more stimulating ideas than anything Fisher Price ever dreamed about. The longer we stayed in the park the more time itself felt like a long flowing river, and that we had set ourselves adrift on its soft currents. Joy, it was, to be together. Joy, and also a contented peace, as if the fragmented puzzle of our lives fit together again, if only for a couple of wind-swept hours.
On the walk home my middle daughter helped push the baby in her stroller. She was as happy as her hand:
Soon after, the day returned to chaos. My husband had to work, I went to Ashtanga Mysore practice, the children fought while the baby slept. But the imprint of the morning left its mark: underneath the chaos, love.