Thursday, February 4, 2016


THIS. It's sights like these that keep us mamas going. And this was the beautiful view that played out in front of me on Monday. 

I just returned from a long weekend away in California with my husband. He had a work conference and my kids have amazing grandparents. Add those two together and suddenly you find yourself boarding a plane bound for a paid-for hotel room and calling it your vacation for the year. Finances are tight on one income so we eke out what we can whenever we can. He and I - we thrive when traveling and this is something that has only recently been said aloud. We are our best when we are exploring new places together and so we make it a priority. But that's another story all it's own...

Usually our return home is met with acting out children who make it clear that our absence was unappreciated. This time though, that was not the case. Well, except for Jack, who wailed for Grandma once he realized it was me approaching to fetch him from his crib. Other than that, the payback has been pretty mild and I am grateful.

So many of my days at home are spent in perpetual motion - herding, teaching, feeding, helping, disciplining. I never question whether there is movement. The answer to that is obvious. But I do, at times, find it difficult to determine in which direction we are heading. A challenge arises and we attempt to address it, at least until a new one replaces it and takes the spotlight. Does anything ever get resolved? Or do we unknowingly bury problem A as we unearth and explore problems B, C and D?

As parents and as people in general, we need a barometer, a tool that tells us we're doing it. We are in forward motion. The alternative seems to be that we fall victim to the vicious spin cycle - dizzying times where it feels like we are only going in perpetual circles. We need shining, affirming moments like the one I captured of my girls in the picture above that act as just such a barometer. They tell us Look, you've made progress. You're not where you once were. 

 We were at the schoolyard, awaiting the dismissal bell that would reunite us again with my eldest. My middle daughter passed the minutes on the playground, gleefully exploring a new ladder that had been installed over the weekend. When the sound of the bell broke the silence. she ceased all play and came running to my side, her arms ready to envelop her big sister in a hug. I fully expected my oldest to reject the affection of my middle, but to my surprise, her face lit up with a smile and the two hugged mutually. I could feel my heart warming as I witnessed their rare display. 

They ran off together, playground-bound, imaginations soaring. The air had a bitter chill to it but the sun was shining for once and so I was in no rush. My youngest lay in the stroller, not crying, but burrowed deeply, head and all, under a blanket. I'd stolen him straight from his crib, in the dead of sleep to make it to school in time. The girls continued to play together happily, older instruction younger - running, laughing, smiling, holding hands. I settled in, leaning against a nearby fence, not about to interrupt the sisterly bonding that was happening before my eyes.

To think two short months ago, on my nightstand was a copy of the book Siblings Without Rivalry, a book I plowed through in absolute desperation when the fighting was at it's highest. And then of course yesterday I was awoken by the girls SCREAMING their heads off at each other. Over markers. There were three outbursts before I could pull myself from my slumber to intervene. I could hear hands slapping bare skin. And today they argued over the ownership of loose coins that had somehow escaped the safety of their piggy bank home. Don't be fooled! Fighting is still very much the norm. But in all the moments of yelling and slapping, it's easy to get caught up and miss all the hand-holding and displays of affection that are also taking place. I'm so thankful for "barometer moments" that help give me perspective!
We've been talking a lot in our house about the honor of having siblings. I tell my girls often how special it is that they have a sister so close to their own age. I tell them about my own relationship with my sister. They are built-in friends, travel buddies and playmates. And I pray often that their relationship with one another continues to grow and flourish! 

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posted by kelsie