We had the very best kind of day today, full of family and friends who feels like family, sunshine, good food, gorgeous scenery, road trip snacks, great music, ice cream, swimming, and more. It was the kind of day where you expect (and hope) your kids will fall asleep by 7 because they’re exhausted, but then they stay up until after 11 because they’re so wired from maximum fun. I am simultaneously happy and tired is what I’m saying.
Grady graduated to his green belt in karate last week. His school does graduations once per month, and he still had his last stripe to earn, so I didn’t think he’d be graduating until February. But at the last minute, two days before graduation, he tested and passed.
He has worked so hard and grown so much since starting karate. I know I’m biased but I promise, he’s actually really good. And he loves it. I don’t think I’ve had a cooler parenting moment than seeing my kid excel at something he enjoys.
Graduation was a bit of a last minute scramble and I didn’t expect anyone to reschedule their lives around Grady’s karate event, but I put the invitation out to all the grandparents. And they all showed up. They watched him move up to the next belt level, they cheered and clapped and took pictures. Afterwards we all went out for dinner and I can’t articulate how much it meant to me to see how my kids are surrounded by love and support. Intellectually I know my kids are loved but to witness the sacrifice (traffic! Other plans! Work stuff!) people made to come stand in a sweaty gym for an hour when Grady’s portion of the ceremony was approximately three minutes, was humbling. My kids, my family, I am so lucky.
When I am nine years old, my dad travels for work a lot. It's not what we're used to, and my mom puts up with a lot of shit from me and my siblings. She solo parents four kids (aged 12, 9, 5, and 3.5) for a year and somehow manages to not lose her sanity. My mom is a warrior. (So is my dad, by the way. He works hard to provide for his family. But this story isn't about that so you'll have to take my word for it.)
One day, the stomach flu hits our home. My mom runs from child to child, holding back hair, emptying buckets, encouraging sips of apple juice, and finally piles all the sickies into her own bed for the sake of efficiency. Because she is my mom (and if you know my mom, you know exactly what I mean,) she decides to sleep on the floor beside the bed so she can be with us as soon as she's needed.
Finally we are all asleep. My mom, haggard from the demands of sick kids, exhausted from parenting without a break, unzips a sleeping bag...and the metal zipper pull breaks and plunges into her finger. And gets stuck. My mom can't get the zipper pull out of her finger and she can't detach the zipper pull from the sleeping bag. My mom is home, alone with four sick kids, in the middle of the night, with a sleeping bag attached to her hand (in pain! Because, you know, impalement.).
I slept through the entire incident so I have no first-hand memory of it but as the story goes, my mom called our neighbour for help, she ended up in the emergency room where the staff told her they thought she was carrying either a sick child or a bomb into the hospital, the zipper pull was removed from her finger, and she was home in time to power through our morning shenanigans.
We joke about turning into our mothers but in my case, I kind of hope I do. My mom moves mountains for her kids. I want my kids to grow up knowing I would do the same for them.
My little brother is the baby of the family. I should probably stop calling him little, as he's over 6-feet tall and towers over his sisters. My brother has the distinct disadvantage of growing up with siblings who were old enough during his toddler years to remember his shenanigans. (You can unclench, Westy, I'm not here to share any secrets.)
I remember my little brother and my dad having the weirdest power struggles. I say weird because as a kid, I was all "little brother, why are you fighting with Dad? He's the dad! You do what he says!" but now as an adult who has parented a threenager, I'm all "Dad, why did you fight the tiny rage tornado? He was three years old! You could not win!" Hindsight is 20/20 and all that jazz.
Anyway, one day my family was sitting around the kitchen table eating dinner when one of these power struggles erupted. I don't remember what prompted him but my dad said something along the lines of "when you're in my house, you follow my rules." My little brother, bless his heart, responded with "this isn't your house." This isn't your house. You guys. If you have not yet parented a three-year-old, this is what you have to look forward to.
It was like all the air was suddenly sucked out of the room. No one breathed. My dad met my little brother's defiant gaze and asked, "no? Then whose house is it?"
"Mom bought the house," my brother announced, disdainfully. "You just bought the furniture."
I love my siblings more than I can properly articulate but today, on National Sibling Day, I want to say how grateful I am to have a built-in crew of people who know exactly what I'm looking for when I say I need the pumpkin pie recipe, who feel the same isolation when it comes to pop culture because none of us were allowed to watch the cool movies or tv shows growing up, and who can simultaneously put me in my place and make me howl with laughter by telling me I just bought the furniture.