Friday, August 7, 2009

Ways of Seeing

My kids were at Camp Grandma last week. What started out as a 2-night sleepover so that we could get a big painting project finished at our house turned into a 5-day party, with Grandma & Grandpa providing donuts for breakfast, 3 trips to the park in a day, and late-night cuddle sessions for any and all takers.

Every morning I would call and ask them are my kids coming home to me today? and my 4-year old would giggle and say "maybe tomorrow, mama. Yep, I think maybe tomorrow." My six-and-three-quarters-old would responsibly tell me that she missed me soooooooooooo much, but that it "might work out for the best" if they stayed just one more night. And Annika? Well, she'd decided she was officially in the Big Kid Club, and she was going to hang with them, thanks.

So when I sat on my front steps last Wednesday and watched them run across the yard into my open arms, it was with a truly grateful heart. They had been gone long enough to really miss them. Long enough for me to be alone with my thoughts a little too often, long enough for me to start wandering into their rooms and re-making their beds, just to smell their pillows.

Most shockingly, they'd been gone long enough for me to see them, really see them, when they came home.

Five days won't change anyone into a teenager, or give a kid the space to grow 5 inches. But it will give a 6 year old a chance to seem impossibly long and lean, and to become all at once tender, thoughtful, and independent. Since she's been home, if her face is turned the right angle I begin to see so clearly the graceful teenager she will be in another six years, even as the evidence of the chubby cheeked toddler she was six years ago fades. I hear her comments, opinions and insights with new ears: not so much as comic relief, but as the words of a big kid, a school kid, with so much insight into her world.
Five days will give a four year old boy a chance to remember how much he loves cuddling his mama. More importantly, it will give him the chance to find his voice - to make himself heard over two very opinionated sisters. He grows into himself, and his return this week has shown me how quickly he is learning everything, and how quietly he keeps all that he knows close to his chest, just to surprise and delight me with a new letter sound or math fact.

Five days will give a baby a chance to become a toddler - one of the big kids. I watched her march across the lawn and the end of our babyhood couldn't have been any clearer. She wants to talk, she wants to be included, she wants the other two to RESPECT! her, and boy do they all make each other giggle.

It is rare we are given the gift of a changed perspective. I certainly had not expected that particular miracle from my weekend off. But a miracle is what it was. I sent them away, and when I got them back, I had different kids: different, because their mother had different eyes with which to see them.


Bryan said...

Hey Kirsten - I have read a couple of your blogs that I have seen posted through FB and just wanted to comment and say that I think you are an awesome writer. I love to see other parents write about their children as we all share the same amazing and scary emotions as they grow up. Hope you guys are well. Bryan Cox

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful story! (Made me tear up a wee bit.)

You're a talented writer with wonderful insights and observations. Glad you are blogging and sharing this with us, the grateful readers. Thanks.


Cheryl said...

Beautiful post, Kirsten! Can your parents take my kids for five days? I could use some new perspecitve! ;)

kirsten said...

Cheryl - ha! Let it be noted that this was the FIRST time Annika got included in the sleepover. But yeah, I'm pretty blessed in the grandparents dept.

kirsten said...

@ Bryan & Teresa - thank you for your lovely comments! It is nice to know that sometimes there is a common chord to strike, and always the chance to refocus. (Note I say 'the chance' - not always the ability, when you're deep in the trenches...)

hezro said...

How did I miss this post, Kiersten?! I'd read about leaping and sailing and abundance but somehow missed this.

Absolutely beautiful. I really enjoy reading your blog. You manage to so eloquently convey the very things I'm thinking. I should just stop trying to come up with original thought of my own and start plagiarizing you. (Thought - particularly original thought - is such an effort for me...) :) Anyway, thanks for sharing your journey with the rest of us.

hezro said...

Oops, old habits die hard. I have a Kiersten so that just popped right out. I told you original thought is a challenge for me. But for the record, I do know that you're a Kirsten and not a Kiersten.

kirsten said...

Heather, at my advanced age I have started not to notice if my name's spelled weird. But the only time I DO get irritated (and your Kiersten must get this too) is when people call me KRISTEN or KRISTINE.

And between your great photos and my prose, we could totally dominate the world. :) But the sad news is that there are a number of mamas doing that already - have you checked out My Perfect Kids?? Unreal children's photography.

Hope you're enjoying your weekend 'away'!

Amanda said...

This is one of your many lovely, lovely blogs, Kirsten. Maybe even my favorite. I read it weeks ago and it made me weep, and even now, when I finally get around to commenting and am only remembering it rather than re-reading, I'm still getting tearful. Great stuff.

kirsten said...

cheers Amanda - I love to hear when something's struck home.

hezro said...

Haha! Dominating the world...we should give that a shot sometime. Sounds interesting. :)

I tried to find My Perfect Kids with no luck. What's the URL?

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