Okay, before I give you today’s installment of my summer short story, we need to talk about mystery girl’s name. I promised you a name reveal today, and I’m ready. You guys all gave me great ideas. Katie, Opal, Jett, Mags, Lennon, Sam, Molly, Claire, Regina, and of course, let us not forget Sapphire. Mystery girl’s name is…Mags. So her brother is Matty and she is Mags, and these nicknames stand for Matthias and Magdalene, because their parents were big into Jesus’s disciples when they went about naming their kiddos. Okay, enough backstory. Back to the story, heh heh.
“So, what have you gotten yourself into this time, Mags?” Matt asked. “What-have-you-gotten-yourself-into-this-time-Mags?” she mimicked. “I’m so sorry we don’t all have our lives perfectly glued together like you, jerknut.” He snorted and then got serious. “Are they after you again?”
***bahm bahm bahmmm…who’s after her?…what’s going to happen?…stay tuned***
This week all my kids are at various camps, for a combined total of three hours to myself every day. I’m extremely excited and patting myself on the back for the timing on this one, right at the point in the summer when the togetherness was teetering on lethal. If my diabolical scheme works, by the time everyone reunites for any substantial amount of quality time, we’ll be into next week, when my brother brings cousins with whom to while away the hours. (“With whom to while away.” That’s the kind of fancy talk you can expect from me here on this blog. I’m eating caviar and drinking champagne while I write this, too, on the back of my unicorn that poops rainbows.)
You know that thing where your kids grow up and the younger kid does what the older kid did before? This summer, Elliott’s doing the camp Ana did last year, and Evie’s doing the camp Elliott did two years ago, and Ana’s off blazing new trails as the oldest. I love it. I love it I love it I love it. Last year when I took Ana to camp I looked around at the blaring music and sea of children playing games and thought, “Elliott will want to do this never.” He’s my shy guy and prefers complete quiet and a good book and the thought of playing outside in a throng of strangers is his idea of the worst thing ever. And yet. He stepped on out and said he’d take it from here and he was off being all grown up. And Evie walked on into her camp like she was ready for college and not still wanting to be held every second of the day.
Don’t you just look at your kids sometimes and think, “Oh my gosh we have these little humans who are growing and adapting and we made all this happen and we have boxed seats to their Game of Life.” It’s such a rush cheering them on.
Of course there are the not-so-great parts. This weekend I was on my hands and knees in Evie’s closet having a freakout about the clutter. She’d taken every clothes drawer out and dumped it, and I had an out-of-body experience kneeling in the mess like Scarlett O’Hara before she ate the turnip and vomited. “With God as my witness, I’ll never go hungry again!” (shakes fist) Only instead of that, I heard myself intoning, “This is not okay,” over and over again. Like, over and over, rocking myself, “This is not okay, this is not okayyyy, this is not okayyyyyyyyy,” and it was a back-away-slowly moment for Evie, looking at me like, “Mom’s finally cracked clean through the center of her brain.”
There are the mundane moments, the ones where you don’t think you can muster the energy to pick up one more dirty sock that you found stuffed in the garage. And there are the magic moments, watching your kids throw themselves into new things with bravery and fun. And the line between the mundane and the magic is so fine sometime I almost mislabel a magic moment as mundane.
The other night when Elliott was making armpit farts and Ana was burping whole sentences on command, I almost labeled it mundane, because yeah. But then instead of rolling my eyes I slowly grinned and thought, “This is kind of amazing. These two were strangers two years ago, and now they’re members of a sibling body noise band. Ten minutes ago they wanted to choke each other, and now they’re choking they’re laughing so hard.” Magic.
I think this is what I love about summer. There’s a little more space around us to notice the magic. We have long summer nights and hot days by the pool and no schedules to keep. The kids pull on their mud boots and I yell out the door, “Try to avoid snakes!” as they tromp through the woods, and they come back with grand tales of adventure and conquering swampland.
I think writing helps me recognize the magic. So often I get caught up in the exhaustion of parenting, and sitting here thinking back over the days swabs away my natural crankiness and reveals childhood’s sparkle.
The mundane and the magic. I think I’m grateful for both.
What helps you notice the magic around you?