Monday, February 18, 2013

Turns out, I DID come home un-crabby.

I have so many things I want to say about my children right now.  And not a single sentence I can write could describe this feeling in the pit of me -- the gratitude, love, joy, excitement -- that these little persons are mine.

I left on Sunday morning to take the kids for 2 days in Washington DC, solo due to Steve's work schedule.  As we were leaving, Steve said to me: "Thank you for doing this for our children."

"Ah. Maybe thank me when I get home.  Make sure I'm not crabby on the other end of this."

Steve, with complete calm: "Oh. I have NO expectations that you'll come back un-crabby."

The way he said it, with absolute acceptance, twisted me in a lovely way.  I felt like he was giving me permission to react authentically to what could have been a very complicated weekend. I really appreciated it.  And in a strange way, it poured a confidence into me -- like no matter what happened, it would be okay.  I would make sure it was a great weekend. 

We went up there because I wanted to take the kids to the National Gallery.  As I posted on Facebook: "My art-loving younger self never predicted researching the National Gallery website for paintings whose artists share a name with Ninja Turtles. But when Andrew said after the Michelangelo exhibit, “Can we go see Leonardo ones next?” -- all I could hear was his excitement about art, and I didn’t care about the source. Honestly, I’m kinda in love with the way family members meld their interests to make something bigger and better than any individual. Yes, we’re going on the Ninja Turtle themed tour of the National Gallery this weekend – but we’ll still see some amazing art. And my superhero-loving little boy is excited about it. That means a lot to my art-loving current self."

We drove up early that morning and had brunch with Prilla and Curt, left our car at their place to take the Metro, spent a few hours at the National Gallery, then walked to Ford's Theater, then to the White House, then to the Metro station again to come home.

That's the simplified version. The more accurate, unedited vision involves blasting cold wind, hurting feet, no open restaurants for long stretches of time, not being able to find taxis when we needed them (hence all the walking), the Metro station being closed when we finally arrived, and one child wetting pants because no building with a bathroom was unlocked.

But you know what else it doesn't include? 

That NOT ONE of my children whined at me.  We all talked about how effing cold it was (Simone: "I have never been so cold, but I am TRYING REALLY HARD not to freak out right now!").  But everyone talked about it like it was an unalterable entity...a necessary evil to do what we were wanting to do...and with no whining or irritability. 

I felt like we were all in this together.  Bonding through the misery of cold, hurting-footed hunger.  One of us with wet pants.

Every few freezing blocks, I'd crouch down at their level, tell them they were travel warriors, and we'd all do a group hug.  Partly for moral support, partly for shared body heat.  You'd think we were climbing Mount Everest together, not walking urban DC.  But for tiny persons, quite honestly, it might be about the same level of triumph. 

When we finally found a Marriott (after blocks upon blocks of closed office buildings), we ducked in, dried off wet pants, bought a round of hot ciders, and then I said: "Do we still want to walk to the White House?"  I assumed it'd be a unanimous NO, but three sets of eyes lit up and shrieked YES.

I fought back tears, pushed forward by some yet-to-be-named emotion that is a large percentage pride...but also just wondrous awe at these persons.


It was an amazing two days.  They loved the art museum.  Andrew loved that he planned our Sunday (Ninja Turtle artists...where Abe Lincoln was shot...and the White House -- all his itinerary for us).  I think he grew a foot taller yesterday.

On Sunday night we stayed at a hotel, as we went to Mount Vernon on Monday for Washington's birthday events and to see his personal copy of the Constitution.  I woke up this morning to see the bathroom light on, and Andrew playing in there.  "I didn't want to turn on the lights and wake you all," he said.  And then a few beats later: "You know what, Mommy? You're an awesome mommy." 

Sometimes, motherhood is complete un-fun.  If you are a parent, I don't need to explain this.  Sometimes, in fact, it can be pretty damn miserable.  And then other times, you're standing in your pajamas in a hotel room in Alexandria, wiping away tears about this sweet little boy standing in his underwear in the bathroom, holding a Spider-Man, handing you one of the more beautiful moments you've ever had. 


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