Jon and I stood at the kitchen island on Friday night with those looks of dread that come over our faces when we know we have an entire weekend with the kids with nothing planned. How sad, I know. I am used to running down to Cincy or heading up to Marion or Dover or trucking it out to the farm. But strapping into the car seats every weekend has to tire the kids out and it also takes a chunk of change out of my wallet with the price of gas these days. What happened to the $1.49 gas prices from my childhood (or was it $1.99? Whatever it was, it was a world of difference compared to today.). What is worse is that the weathermen had predicted rain for all of Saturday. One of my worst nightmares is not being able to go outside all day.
Luckily, we had sporadic showers on Saturday but a decent amount of sun and almost a full day of sun today. Saturday, Dad and Mario went on “boy errands” which ironically consisted of dropping clothes off at the dry cleaner. This activity was tempered by a trip to Home Depot. Maria and I stayed put around the house reading her school books and playing the ice cream game and Fancy Nancy Go Fish card game. We ate popsicles. When the boys arrived home, I bargained with Jon – if he let me go to Stauf’s for a couple of hours, I would take the kids to the indoor pool. Deal.
Every time I take the kids to the pool, I develop a huge headache from the pull of Maria and Mario throughout our entire time we are at the facility. Mario wants me to watch him “swim” and go down the slide; Maria wants me to play beauty shop or hold her and go under the “waterfall.” So, I had the bright idea this time around to invite a friend for Maria. Genius – no headache and lots of fun for Maria. We brought Maria’s friend, Anna, another boisterous and daring girl like Ri. Mario likes Anna, too. He always has something to tell her (“Anna, do you want to see my power ranger…” “Anna, I like your bathing suit…”).
Maria and Anna played the entire two hours together – I was only needed to take them to the lazy river and the whirlpool, which I did twice until Mario turned blue from the cold water in that area. He rightly refused to go back a third time. Mario enjoyed Anna’s presence, too, because I got almost all of his attention (he just wanted to me to fight the fountains with him by using my hands as swords and cutting through the shooting water – I am convinced he can take any object and find a way to fight it).
Maria and Anna went over to their friend’s house, Zach, after swimming. Zach’s mom (who I adore!) made them tacos and they played hide-n-seek. Maria came home at 8 pm zonked. Beautiful. Anna came over again today and the girls played at the park and up in Maria’s room with her barbies for two hours. Peace and quiet for Jon and I to finish seeding the lawn (Mario played an hour of Wii basketball).
Maria has always wanted me to do everything with her. If I have to run errands, she wants to come. If I want to take a run, she wants to come. If I am going out with friends, she wants to be there. So this very recent phenomena of playing with friends and not being attached to my hip is strange yet oh, so wonderful. She needs her distance from me, and it has been challenging for me to nudge her away because I feel like I should be with her every waking moment since I work 40 hours a week. These friendships allow her to see life without me by her side assisting her, and allow her to learn that she can do things on her own and with friends. It also pushes me to work harder to distance myself from her to allow her to learn and grow. One regret I have as a parent is that I did (and still do) too much for the kids. It doesn’t keep me up at night – in the end I know they will be fine and they will know that I love them to infinity and back – but it is something that I would re-think if I did it all again. They now rely on me for everything (“Mom, will you get me some water…” “Mom, will you find me a shirt to wear?” Mom, will you sleep near me until I go to sleep….”). And as many times as I try to not do these things, I always end up doing them. It is a hard habit to break. So, I am grateful to Maria’s little friends for helping to push her towards more freedom from her momma.
That being said, I pray to a higher power that Maria does not cease looking to her momma for love and support and hugs and kisses. I can’t imagine the day that she looks at me as I lean over to kiss her and snaps “Mom, please stop!” Those kisses and hugs bring way too much joy to my life to end them already. There are some days that I long to get home just to squeeze her and Mario in my arms and plant 100 kisses all over their soft baby skin. The moral of the story is that sometimes adding to the clan can be better – adding Anna this weekend allowed me more time to myself and more time with Mario. Of course, Mario only wants me around to have a basketball opponent. I am sure in a couple of years, he will have his boy friends over just like Maria has her girlfriends over, and then I will be staring at the walls as I sit in my dining room wondering what the heck to do with all of the time. Ahh, I am sure I will figure out something even if it is simply staring at the walls as I sit in my dining room….