The days' chores are relentless but there are times I see through the exhaustion and am pleasantly surprised.
At the end of today, a long day of cajoling the boys to eat something healthy, refereeing, negotiating, comforting and keeping up with and putting an end to the constant death defying acts, we were all tired. We are not at our best when the shadows of bedtime loom over us. But tonight in the midst of the whining and the not sharing, the drama of a pre-tantrum windup, I caught a treasured glimpse of my boys' developing characters.
I decided to head outside for an impromptu snack of milk and cookies before sending Henry and Liam upstairs to bed. As I set a tray on the boys' picnic table they both insisted on sitting on the patio with its two "comfy" chairs. Nevermind that their chins barely reach the table top or that the wrought iron chairs are impossible for them to maneuver. Henry staked his claim and his brother followed suit. I ended up standing, then moving to the tiny Little Tikes table. The boys sat on cushioned seats dunking their chocolate chip cookies. Then Liam looked over at me and jumped down from his chair. He came over and sat next to me on the plastic bench. He's a boy of few words but I'm pretty sure he loves me.
Later, after I read three stories and told Henry in no uncertain terms that he needed to stay upstairs, I returned to the backyard to read. Our patio is directly below Henry's window, so I wasn't surprised to hear him knocking and see him peering down at me. I tried to ignore him even as he got louder. There were a few moments of silence. Ahhhh, finally peace and quiet...time to relax and hear myself think (or even better, not think). Then the knocking returned. I ignored it dutifully, until hearing Henry's loud voice reach the monitor in his brother's room. "Come upstairs, I pooped."
Fabulous. Of course you did.
After taking care of Henry's business, I returned to the patio and noticed that soon it would be too dark to read. Still, I moved a bit closer to the fire and began Chapter 2 of my movie star biography. I was well into the third chapter when I glanced up and saw Henry at the window. Had he been standing there this whole time? He saw me looking and began talking. This time he wasn't loud enough to be picked up by the baby monitor. Since the sky was darkening quickly, I gave up and came in the house. Nothing was wrong. Just my boy not wanting to go to sleep. He stood on the stairs with such an impish grin, I couldn't be mad (and it would do no good anyway.) Henry looked down at me and said, "Mommy, did you finish your book?" I shook my head. "Well...maybe tomorrow you can." He's a sweet boy who is driving me crazy this summer--but we care about each other and that will see us through.
Tomorrow is another day. It will bring its own challenges to our patience and ability to be kind to one another. It's a big job and we don't get summers off.
*I know, doesn't that sound great? I love it. Unfortunately, that's just a fancy way of saying I'm trying to show Henry that he can't make constant demands of adults, behave dangerously or push his little brother around.