It was a glorious southern weekend. With the laze of a southern drawl spring was giving way to summer in the gentlest of fashions.
I had maxed out my vacation time and had to/got to unexpectedly take Friday off. I rewarded myself with a little pampering. I also rewarded my big fella (who makes it possible for me to work overtime) with a radio for his truck. My fella left me happy (which makes me happy) to spend some time with a girl that’s a friend but not a girlfriend. Big girl had a slumber party so she was off somewhere being 13. The baby girl and I puttered around together Friday afternoon happy to not be in a hurry to be anywhere or doing anything for once. “Mama how old do I haff to be ‘for I no have to hold your hand no more?” baby girl asked at one point. I told her 13. She nodded. That’s the age of her sister so she gets the answer 13 to a lot of her questions. I am pretty sure she was hinting for me to let go of her hand as we strolled along window shopping but I wasn’t interested in doing so. My 2 bigs were away being big kids and I wanted to enjoy my little one as long as I could. So I did.
Saturday dawned gloriously. I warned my fella of the family day itinerary which included: a tasting festival, an antique festival, a 5K charity race for my work and chauffeuring my big girl to 2 parties. To his credit he didn’t complain…too much…though at one point he did mutter, “I am going to make a freaking awesome husband!” A point to which I agreed. Happy wife-happy life I told him. And days like this will make your wife happy! He gave me his trade mark lopsided grin and started the car.
The tasting fair was awesome…we got to sample wares from Georgia vendors under white tents in the cool breeze. We bought some goodies and had fun trying new foods. Okay I had fun trying new foods. They had fun trying foods they already like. It was us, being us, on a gorgeous day.
The ride to the antique fair was fun…having 2 teenagers in the car makes for lively conversation. I can’t think of a topic we didn’t touch on. The antique festival was a slice of heaven for me; unique vendors with treasure after treasure after treasure. As happy as I was it was also hard…a snippet of a song or a glimpse of little ones riding on their daddy’s shoulders or couples excitedly looking over furniture that made me acutely aware that my little family was incomplete. The idea of a complete family clouded my day…just a little…not a lot. The idea of going home and grilling out while lazing in the backyard nibbled at me a bit. But just a bit.
Big girl bravely -albeit nervously-went to her party where POPULAR people would be…GASP. Big boy was a trooper and headed off to the race with his remaining girls. He sputtered and spewed when I signed him up for the fun run with us but it was a weak ruckus. He put on a company t-shirt like a good sport. In the end he sashayed the mile with a co-workers daughter and made the most out of the situation.
My chunk-a-munk was so excited. She clung to my hand, willingly, since there were strangers about trying to talk to her. Just before the “race” began we moved to the starting area. She stretched every limb, every muscle while waiting on the race to begin. She pulled up her knees, flexed her feet, made windmills to stretch her shoulders and touched her toes. She stretched her hips and did a few deep knee bends. Anyone watching her would have thought she was competing in her first marathon with the energy she devoted to getting prepared.
When the race began she walked a bit and then impishly looked up at me to say, “Let’s run! Just to dat tree” so we did. Her bubba yelled, “Thought we were just walking MOM!” but he had a smile in his voice. We jogged 10 steps before she proclaimed “Whew!” and slowed down. (Thank goodness) We walked a bit and then she said, “Again,” before bouncing up and running a bit more in her ‘go fast’ shoes. I let her control the pace and even managed to jog a bit beside her when she wanted to. It wasn’t pretty but I didn’t care. Her little face was flushed with the heat. Freckles dotted her little nose. Little curls sprouted beside her ears where the tendrils had slipped from her pony tail. And her grin-oh her grin- Her big, semi-toothless grin that was so happy and so joyous that held me captive.
We finished, her and me, hand in hand. The little green ‘medal’ around her neck could have been Olympic gold it made her so proud. Several minutes later her brother sauntered into view. She took off running to greet him. “Ta’mon bubba! You can do it,” she shouted. He must have encouraged her to show him how it was done because she took off as fast as she could. Her little hands curled into fist in determination. Her pony tail danced atop her head while her little feet ran. She crossed the finish line (again) smiling as broadly as she did the first time with her big brother, arms high in the international sign of victory, cheering her on in the background. My friend snapped the picture at that moment. I love it.
A picture is worth a thousand words and this one is no exception. The essence of our weekend is so perfectly captured in one second in time. It just a snapshot but here is what I saw: a happy little girl being uncharacteristically fearless, a cool-freedom-hungry teen being totally engaged in a moment to make his sister happy and I saw us making new memories at a place that used to have old ones. The picture speaks even of my big girl though she is absent in the shot. Despite some recent bullying and nasty behavior she was at a party of a girl she really likes with the very girls that were causing the drama. She almost didn’t go because she isn’t popular enough to hang with the “it” crowd. In the end she changed her mind and toughened up. So, though she’s not in the picture, I know where she is and I know what bravery it took for her to get there. So her NOT being in the picture speaks loudly to me. I was there. Being introverted and appalled at my current physique I could have stayed home. I wanted to hide at home. The day held a tinge of sadness for me and I could have given into that and kept away…but I didn’t. I was there. I was out of my comfort zone and THERE.
We finished our little race and hung around a bit for shaved ices and gatorades. Little girl even worked up to courage to, alone, go down the inflatables. Big boy didn’t rush us though I know he wanted to. We leisurely made our way from the race to the pool to pick up party girl. Who, miracles of miracles, spotted us and hopped right out of the pool, thanked her hostess and made her way to the car SMILING the whole time. No belly aching because we were a few minutes early. No admonishments for parking where everyone could see us. She just said ‘thanks for letting me go…I had a GREAT time’ and then, willingly, told us about the party.
Much later that night my big girl was gone again to spend the night with yet another friend. Big boy was in his faux man cave (the actual closet he sleeps in) and baby girl was tucked up tight beside me in my bed. Yes. My bed. “I luff you mama,” she said around the thumb that she was sucking. Her hair tickled my nose as I kissed her on top of the head and assured her that I loved her too. It was the perfect end to a great day…not a perfect day…but close to perfect.
I am thankful to have the picture of my little gal crossing the finish line with my big boy in the background because this ordinary day would be too easy to forget. But with the picture I will remember. I’ll remember my little incomplete family making memories and being together. I’ll remember my proud little gal and my sweet fella cheering her on. I’ll remember my strong girl not giving into ugly souls. I’ll remember. Ordinary days are so easily forgotten but good ordinary days are the days that make us who we are. How grateful am I for this wonderfully ordinary day I shared with my littles ones this weekend.