I’m Melting

Henry is banging on the backdoor.

“I an here Mama,” he calls, “Un-yock da door.”

A Lovely Book (with a little bit of me!)

Juggling Acts

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It was a beautiful Fall evening. The wind wafted gently through the towering pine trees and I thanked the Lord that cooler weather had finally arrived.

I was standing on the sidelines at our son’s soccer game and in the split-second it took to slip on my pullover jacket, Henry the Toddler was gone. My eyes darted up and down the sidelines until I spotted him, out with the players dashing towards the other team’s goal.

I sprinted to the field, trying to act casual while looking like a maniac. I’m always intrigued when I read about people wanting to die with dignity – I’d be happy just to live with it.

Offending party reached, I swept dear sweet Henry into my arms as the spectators cheered. They were probably just glad the kid was off the field, but the sound of applause buoyed me. Yes, I thought, I am victorious! Thank you, everyone, for your support.

Unfortunately, the support was not enough to keep me going. Soon after that escape onto the field, Henry tried to run in the opposite direction, towards the parking lot. He also tried belly-diving off the bleachers and later grabbing a half-eaten cookie from inside a nearby trash can.

Those who have lived through the toddler experience recognize this is just part of the adventure. It’s been five years since my last toddler and apparently a comforting wave of amnesia had washed over me. But Henry’s been two for a few months now, and it’s all coming back to me in alarming detail. Having a toddler is not for sissies.

So maybe, on an average day, these antics at this soccer game would be just enough to make me rally, to force me to dig my heels into the ground, look my two-year-old in the eye and declare “I am the boss of you! I will win this fight!”

But this was not that day.

Sadly, all of these adventures were occurring at the second soccer game of the day, the one we arrived at having come directly from another. At the other game, the toddler antics were slightly better due to the time advantage of being a few hours further out from bedtime. Game number two had the unfortunate distinction of being “close to his bedtime,” words that strike fear into the hearts of parents everywhere.

And so, as soon as my husband arrived at the game, I said in the most patient voice I could quietly muster, that it was time for me to fly. I needed to take darling Henry home and feed him dinner and put him in the tub. Because another minute longer at any given soccer field was just a little more than a sane woman should attempt.

As I headed out of the parking lot, I heaved a complicated sigh of guilt mixed with abject glee. I should be there watching my boy play his game, I said, while also wiping a tear of joy from my eye.

This, simply put, is life with children. I suppose I could argue that if things were perfect, I would enjoy the game from the comfort of the bleachers, not having to race and dart and jump up from my seat. I would watch whole-heartedly and without distraction, this one child and his one game the center of all my attentions.

But that world would clearly not involve a toddler – and he is as much a part of the joy in our life as all these other boys.

As I looked in my rearview that evening, watching the events on the soccer field get further from my view, I realized that this is a small part of the sacrifice of having a large family. There will be times when what is best for one child (getting taken out of circulation) conflicts with the activities of another. And really, it’s not different than the times we’ve had two boys playing on two different fields at the same time.

It’s a juggling act, and some days we manage with a bit more finesse than others. 1749″

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