Last summer, when we moved here, the drought was severe and our little neighborhood pond mostly a half-hearted mud puddle. It smelled of baked earth and rotting plants and after a visit or two to sort of scope out the area, we didn’t go back again. Why would we? It was teeming with mosquitoes and not much else.
This spring, the kids have rediscovered the pond. Now there is no greater prize for them than being told they can pull on their rainboots and grab some cups and buckets and go out to the pond to “explore.” Exploring is serious business, you know. There are creatures to be captured (always just for temporary observation in the bucket, then freed later) and sounds to consider and—often—a pair of geese waddling around and watching intruders with curious but tolerant glances.
The pond is close enough that the kids can go out alone, and this often affords me precious uninterrupted work time. They head off, happily, and I turn back to the trappings of adulthood.
Having two children, for me, is often an exercise not unlike standing on the middle of a see-saw. I’m in the middle, they’re on the ends, and my job is to try to balance them perfectly. The reality is that one child always needs me more, and while that changes from day to day (and sometimes, hour to hour), I am keenly aware of wanting to not only meet their needs, but to find that balance in the center, that magic place where they don’t look back and say “Mom loved you more than me.”
(Because I don’t love either of them more, of course. But I do love them differently, because they have different needs.)
Lately, Chickadee has been needy. That’s okay, and other than the moments when I have to remind myself that she’s not trying to drive me insane, I am more than happy to tend to her as best I can. And Monkey, well, he’s often happy to just go with the flow. She’s been getting more attention and he hasn’t complained, because it’s not his way. I’m not even convinced that it’s because he hasn’t noticed; I think that if he does notice, he knows she needs me more and that’s fine with him.
Chickadee may be my old soul, but Monkey is my “free love” kid. He’s more than happy to love the one he’s with. (Remind me why this is a good thing when he’s older and doing more extensive, uh, loving.) He doesn’t fuss and demand more attention the way his sister does.
But she’s been getting a lot of attention, and this weekend I realized I needed to have some one-on-one time with my favorite boychild. While Otto and Chickadee worked in the garden, I asked Monkey if he wanted to go to the pond.
“Sure, I guess!” he said, gazing wistfully at his sister and trying to calculate how much fun it would be if he went by himself and not with her. “It’s more fun WITH someone, though,” he finally added.
“I’m going with you,” I told him, and his eyes lit up and he ran for his boots.
I pulled a butterfly net out of hiding and presented it to him. He brandished it like a treasured samurai sword as we walked, talking about how many minnows he’d be able to catch with it.
I didn’t do much talking, myself. I let him tell me everything. About the minnows he caught last time and how he’s going to catch even more THIS time, about the funny frog Chickadee almost caught that one time, about how he’ll be more careful not to get stuck in the mud like he did the last time, and how Mama, this is SO MUCH FUN, Mama, you should come to the pond with us ALL THE TIME!
As I watched my youngest stomp through the stream and talk at top volume about how fish are easily scared and so we need to BE MORE QUIET, I listened, REALLY listened, and thought to myself that this is what grace looks like. Grace has scabby knees and smears of mud and sweaty hair plastered to the back of the neck, and it exudes a steady litany of chatter and nearly knocks you off the bridge while waving the net around and it is the physical embodiment of peace in THIS VERY MOMENT, regardless.
I hope he’ll take me down to the pond again soon.
Happy Love Thursday, everyone.
I know exactly those moments you’re talking about. Thank you for reminding me to stop and slow down and enjoy them They have been too few and far between lately.
Aaaawww. I want a pond too.
Oh, how sweet. All kids need some one-on-one time with Mama every so often, even the ones who are less needy on a daily basis.
Oh, that brings back memories of playing at our neighborhood pond! Word of warning, though – don’t let Monkey and Chickadee bring back a bucket of tadpoles, only to leave them on top of the fridge where the cat can’t get them. They will be forgotten until there are frogs the size of your thumbnail hopping all over the kitchen. I’m just sayin’!
That is so beautiful. Grace looks like endless pokemon chatter, and transformers chatter and, and, and. Just when it makes me crazy, I try to remind myself how quickly this will pass, and how I need to grab onto these moments and hold on as long as I can. It’s not what the talk it, it’s that there’s talk. I’ll take it.
We have a cute little stream (drainage ditch) running through our backyard. Watching my kids muck around in their rubber boots is one of my small pleasures. I also love to watch them frolic in grassy fields and roll down gently sloping hills on their sides. Ah, nature.
What a treasure that pond is. SO important to get kids “back to nature”.
Very sweet – I’m going to try to remember that when our little one comes along.
Are you using a lens baby in those shots?
What a sweet Love Thursday post. I hear you on the whole In The Moment thing. One of the skills I’m trying to practice every day (some days more successfully than others, of course) is Living in the Moment. Some days it seems utterly impossible; others it comes more easily.
And yes, nature rocks. We (and by extension, Bunker Monkey) are extremely fortunate in that we live on 20 acres in the country, so I can basically open the door and kick the boy out, and he can immerse himself in all kinds of nature for hours and come back all sweaty and muddy and blissful.
I Hear you on the “free love” kid – Bunker Monkey is the very same way, mostly easygoing and very happy to love up whomever he’s with. Makes it much easier to get some Mom Time when they are that way, I must say!
Awwww… Happy Love Thursday!
And by the way, young lady, you were so PRETTY and SMART on the Today Show yesterday!
Lovely post. For those that don’t have natural ponds – you can create a Wildlife Backyard Habitat garden. I was reading about it today at http://www.Vaboomer.com (the blog for Baby Boomers). Create your own nature wonder world and allow nature’s animals to share in the beauty.
My landlady created one and we have butterflies all spring & summer flitting around the yard. It’s so lovely.
And that is exactly why “Mommy blogging” is so important. Thank you for sharing the story so that the rest of us could enjoy a taste of your moment and now remember to go have one of our own.
Thank you. I needed the reminder to REALLY LISTEN and to slow down. This was a great post today. Give the kids extra hugs today. Happy Love Thursday.
Hey, I didn’t know The Hundred Acre Wood was in Georgia. And lucky you lives with Christopher Robin! :-) Wonderful post!
Mmmm – so sweet!
I’m in awe.
He really IS Christopher Robin.
Oh I’m teary. I can see the look in his eyes because I’ve seen it in my boys’ eyes too. Glad you had fun at the pond!
Thanks for sharing that moment. : )
Awww … such a sweet post! It is important for us to remember how quickly our childs will grow and treasure the moments we can share with them now.
I just watched your segment, you were great! Congratulations!
Awesome moment, and good on you for recognizing it and sharing it with us :)
looks more like a crick (creek) than a pond to me. ;)
that was a beautiful post, mir.
Lovely. Must go hug my boy.
I really, really needed that. There has been so little grace in life lately… well for longer than I want to think about right now. There are those moments, even here, even now and this makes me deeply breathe for a second and refocus my inner eyes so I can see them again. Thank you.
There is a large pond in our neighborhood and every spring the kids in the 7-10 age range catch baby turtles and tadpoles by the handful. And the big turtles bask on the shoreline, and the mallards have babies, and the wading birds wade, and the fish laugh at carefully baited hooks, and the Canada geese annoy everyone and crap all over the place.
What a precious moment!
Love today’s post! We need to start separating our two and doing individual things with them more. It always seems like they want to be together though!
Sounds like a fabulous day. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall (or shall I say, a fly on the flower next to the pond?)
A very touching post.
Makes me want to go kiss my daughter.
That was absolutely beautiful, and a lovely reminder for me.
Wow, that is really sweet. When I really just LISTEN to The Boy I enjoy it every time.
I would run and hug my boychild too if I wasn’t swimming in a sea of kleenex and tylenol. Great post! I totally feel your balancing act as I’m in the same boat.
Times like these are far and few between. I wish we could all just slow down and enjoy our children more.
Aw, so sweet. And I have pond/woods envy.
Those are great pics – beautiful place. Reminds me of my brother’s place in Virginia. They had a pond and we were all swimming and floating one day, when out of the woods comes my brother and my son (10 at the time) – buck naked! – doing cannonballs into the pool.
The women in attendance (including my daughter) say they’ll nevr forget that moment. And I believe them, because I can’t either!
I just saw the Today Show piece, and you were adorable. Love the glasses!
When I started reading this, I seriously thought you were talking about the pool again. I have to say how rad it is that you have an actual pond. It is Wicked Rad. Bitchin’ even.
Yes, I used the word rad in a non-ironic sense, (the first time, at least). Shut-up. I was raised in California and honestly cannot help it.
I hope he takes you to the pond again soon, too. . . .
Way kewl mom.
What somebody else already said – that top picture looks like Christopher Robin out for an adventure. Can you play Pooh-sticks from the bridge?
What a privilege to be allowed to join in the games for an afternoon.