I wrote a lot of dreamy posts about summer back in May and June. And my thrill over time together with the kids (all day, every day, on and on and on) lasted about a month, and then I started getting burned out on all the togetherness, and the whining, and the sameness of the days. The weather's been hot and dry, the pool water has grown warm, we've baked fifty-leven batches of cookies, and I've rinsed the stickiness of three econo-sized boxes of frozen fruit pops off the back porch stairs and un-crusted several cans of PlayDoh from the playroom carpet.
I'll be honest, I'd begun to feel a little Dudes, I think it's time for you two to go stay at Grandma's for a while-ish, if you know what I mean.
And then I went to visit my sister in Virginia. The sister with the son who has been in the hospital almost perpetually since late March. The sister whose summer, full of complicated medical charts, IV beeps, broken hospital sleep, bad hospital food and constant, relentless worry, has been anything but boring. Anything but normal.
I was standing at my kitchen sink this morning, with a child whining in each ear about what he and she did and didn't want for breakfast, bickering over the pink cup, asking me for already the hundredth time that day, What-are-we-gonna-do-ooo-ooo-today-Mo-o-om? and I started wondering just how much Grandma-time it'd take for me to get back to my glowy summer mode again. More than Grandma could give me, I surmised. And then I thought about my sister, who is away from at least one, and if not that one then the other four of her kids, for three or four days at a stretch, who spends her days cooped up and isolated in a hospital room, dealing with sick, sad, scary stuff no child or parent should ever have to endure, and wishing for some day-to-day, dragging-on-and-on, one-after-another summer days with her family together at home, free and normal.
This pretty much shut me up about Grandma-time.
I'm glowing again, by the sheer force of gratitude and empathy. I will not bungle the blessing of normal. I will not overlook for a moment the peaceful simplicity of days-on-end sameness. I will love what is special about every redundant moment, and cherish a child in each ear, whining and bickering or not, and even send up thanks for that knock on my bathroom door mid-stream, banged out by a child who is home, and healthy, and blissfully unappreciative of everything he has been given, and not been given, this summer.
As luck would have it, my sister Jackie and sweet Owen spoke this morning on NPR's Morning Edition about how Child Life Specialists help make their time in the hospital a little bit more normal.
Give them a listen here: