LIFE WITH KIDDOS
Stasis is a powerful thing. Breaking free is even better.
We eat well when there’s snow on the ground, especially at breakfast.
Before we had kids, Kelly and I had a habit of going to Cracker Barrel for brunch any time it snowed. Something there was about a big, hot breakfast served in the near vicinity of a wood fire. With two kids and a third on the way, the days of sleeping till ten are long gone, and aging into the mid-thirties has thickened our sense of caution and responsibility against driving on icy roads. That, and minivans.
But we did sleep in this morning–thank God for kids tuckered out from sledding the day before–and though last night’s fire was only cold embers, this morning I fired up the oven to fix a pan of biscuits, and got a pound of bacon cooking in the big skillet, and scrambled a bunch of eggs, and pulled out oranges and grapes and honey and preserves. (All the carbohydrates, for you fans of MZCL, were for me.)
Soon, the olfactory trinity of biscuits rising, bacon frying, and coffee steaming filled the kitchen.
Outside, the rising sun set the ice-crusted snow on fire, a million diamonds scattered across the yard, hanging over rooftops’ edges, tucked into the corners and nooks of trees. Puffy-chested birds fluttered about, looking for seed. Inside, the kids tuttered about with their toys, a drifting song in itself as they moved from room to room.
A couple of weekends ago, Kel and I decided to split a Saturday and each take a kid for half a day, trading off after nap time. She took Julia in the morning for a fun girls’ trip: a stop by Starbucks (Julia, believe it or not, loves iced coffee, and occasionally we indulge her), a manicure, a chance to shop around a bit. Thomas and I did a few errands–taking extra recycling from Christmas presents to the collection center, a stop at the hardware store to look at all the tools. Later, Kelly and Thomas built forts at the house and watched a movie together while I took Julia to dinner and to a Davidson basketball game.
Any parent of two children will tell you that wrangling only one of them is a treat in and of itself. Even so, it was a reminder of how different–and helpful–one-on-one time can be. The kids are different when you have them on their own. They say things differently, feel empowered to move and act in new ways.
Beyond these paired conversations, it felt different to simply sit together in the car, father and daughter, father and son, managing the traffic in a cold January rain. Each of our children has a beautifully introspective quietude about them.
Then there’s the context of how we are in our final weeks as a family of four. In only two months, our family grows again, and the baby we’ve sung about and felt kick will appear in flesh. We are still in the calm before the storm, relatively speaking. And though the anxiety of managing the waning days before the bulge is gone this time, it’s still tinged a bit with wonder–and, if I’m being honest, melancholy of losing this stasis.
But stasis is too comfortable, anyway, and that’s why I’m fine to cherish this moment, hug it tight, and then put it back into the river to drift away. After all, there was a time in life when I had hours to come downstairs on Sunday mornings to write these columns. This one, you should know, was written while Thomas banged on the drum set behind me and then pretended to bake a pizza in the desk drawer. Right now, he’s trying to figure out how to play the guitar. A few minutes ago he was spinning on the elliptical machine, shouting, “Wowwweeeee!”
I’d never trade those coffee-quiet Sundays for this. And in another year or two, even this will look dim next to where we are then. That’s the idea, at least.
Where we are now, here, snowbound on a twenty-degree January morning, the four of us at the snow-bright breakfast table, steaming heaps of food before us, here is worth remembering, worth writing about and taking note of and putting into the best words I can summon.
Here. Live fully in the here. Breathe it in, because that breath will pass so quickly–and, God willing, there will be another to replace it. Maybe even another snowy, bacon and biscuits breakfast, too.