My husband and I just took our first vacation in 10 years without the kids. We went to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. It was the best trip I've ever been on. It was so nice to take long walks on the beach, hand-in hand and even just relaxing by the pool felt like Heaven. 10 years was too long to wait. Having 5 children has taught me the importance of taking time out for me- making time to do things I like to do so that I can feel renewed-rejunivated and be a better mom. What I didn't realize until this trip was that we need those time-outs as a couple too. It was great to re-connect with Ed and remember why I married him in the first place. Our daily lives are so filled with necessities of running a family (and have been since our 2nd year of marriage) that I've forgotten why I love him so much. I've forgotten how funny he is- how he makes me laugh. I've forgotten how sweet and thoughtful he is. I've forgotten how much fun we have together. Now, obviously, going off on a tropical vacation is not going to happen for another 10 years - but we can make time to spend together each week, each month and each year so that when our family is back down to just the two of us- we still want to spend time together and still want to be married.
Have you ever thought that if you wrote down all the funny things your kids say that you could fill an entire book? I love the way their thoughts just roll right off their tongue. They haven't developed that filter- you know the one in your brain that keeps you from saying some really embarrassing or stupid things. Adults (most of us) have become really good at censoring our thoughts for human consumption. We've also become really good at not saying things- not complimenting and praising people when they deserve it, not saying I love you, not sharing what we really think because it's not politically correct or we wonder what someone will think of us. I love that my kids just say what's on their mind. It cracks me up most of the time and humbles me too. My five-year old says to my husband the other day, "Of course Dad, I'm 5! My brain is big!" Then there are the really tender moments when he says, "Mom, do you know Heavenly Father is true, and he loves us?" and "Mom, you're beautiful." It's also so funny when they mispronounce words like my 4-year old says some-a-body and Alex who says Bemember instead of remember. I just corrected my six-year old who called popcorn- potcorn. The list goes on and on of funny things they say. I know that most of the time I'm so wrapped up in what I need to get done in a day that I don't appreciate the little things (or little people)- and those little things aren't going to be little for too much longer.
Today is the last day of school. And while most of me is wondering what the heck I'm going to do with these kids all day long for 3 months, the good-mom side of me is looking forward to having my kids back. When they start school- first grade anyway- they spend more waking time with other adults and children than they do in your own home. I've realized the last few years that my influence is now competing with the influence of other children and other adults that play a big part in their lives. So as I look forward to the next few months, I'm excited to be able to have breakfast with them instead of rushing them out the door. I'm exicted to not worry about lunch money, notes from school, homework, dance lessons, choir practice, etc. I'm excited to not have to rush around at night trying to get them in bed so we can do the whole thing over again the next day. Most of all I'm grateful that I have good kids and that my influence still matters to them- at least for the next few years anyway.
Today, my 8-year old (the oldest of 5 kids) tells me that she is wondering why the candy that the Easter bunny put in her Easter basket is the same we had in the pantry. I looked at her sweet innocent face and realized that she knew.... she knew the secret that we were keeping from her about the Easter bunny. She said, "You and dad are the Easter bunny, huh?" I nodded because I was absolutely speechless. She then said, "Same with Santa?" My eyes filled with tears and nodded again. Her eyes filled with tears and I told her why I was crying. I told her that I was sad that my little girl was growing up. She seemed to be fine with the realization that we had in fact "lied" to her all these years and she was excited to be let in on an adult secret. She said she couldn't wait for Christmas so she could help surprise the younger kids. I also explained to her while a fat man in a red suit doesn't' exist, the spirit of Santa Claus is very much alive. Then we proceeded to talk about a love note the neighbor boy gave her and her crush on him. My life as a mother changed in this one small but monumental conversation. I hope that I handled the situation in the right way- that I talked and listened to her with respect and with love- that this memory in her mind will always be a positive one and maybe a turning point in which I became more than just a physical presence in her life - I hope I became a confidant, a friend, a mentor- someone who more fully represents the word mother. And if couldn't have happened at a more perfect time. What a wonderful gift for Mother's Day.