I’m not a terribly mushy mom. Sure I love my kids, but I’m not really the type to post mushy Facebook posts about the sweetness of their cheeks or the joys of motherhood. Those moments exist, of course, but sometimes they feel few and far between. Sure I peek at them while they are asleep and think about how amazing they are. Sure I swell with pride when they learn new things, but publically showing vulnerability just really ain’t my style.
That said, I’m about to do my best to share an evening I had with my kids that was pretty cool. I know these times are fleeting and precious, but really guys, kids are such a pain. Even when you’re trying to do something magical they’re hungry or thirsty, or have to pee, or talk non-stop, or cry, or whine, or fall asleep. However, there are moments in parenting – fleeting moments- when things align and magic happens.
Last night was a night like that. We are at the very beginnings of building a new house and the land we purchased is a meadow. It’s beautiful, but the weeds are so high and thick that we haven’t really been able to enjoy the property. Today the excavators mowed it though, so it was wide open. We decided to pack up the kids, blankets, and pillows and go out around 11:00 to watch the Perseid meteor shower.
And the night was magic. It really was. I’m not just being a mush here. It was pitch dark, the clouds had cleared, and we set up our blanket right in the middle of the field. We all laid flat on our backs and watched. I’ve never seen such cool shooting starts. They were big ones that left thick, blueish tails as they streaked across the sky. And we saw a ton of them! Just enough to keep the kids interested. The temperature was perfect and the bugs didn’t bug us.
But that wasn’t the magic part.
The part that was magic was the conversation that ensued. My 7-year-old has always been exhaustingly inquisitive and this night was no different. Over the course of the hour he asked and we talked about the sun, the moon, the stars, and the planets. We explained ozone and atmosphere (as best we could!) and the Earth’s rotation. We pointed out satellites and airplanes and Dylan just couldn’t get enough. He asked and asked question after question, interrupted every so often with a shriek of delight when one of us spotted a shooting star. As I ran out of space knowledge to share with him (which happened pretty quickly), I pointed out the Big Dipper and Orion. When things got real desperate, I told some Greek myths about the constellations (that I could remember!). Even Nolan, who’s 3, was interested in these stories. Next thing I know we are covering Greek mythological creatures and stories of the Gods of Olympus.
I feel like maybe 60% of my space knowledge is actually accurate, so bestowing “knowledge” on my kids wasn’t even the best part. It was quiet; it was dark. There were no cell phones, no Minecraft, no work emails, no text messages. For an hour there were no bills to pay, no weird smell coming from the garbage disposal, or spousal spatting. It was just us. It was an hour of solid family time. No one had to pee. No one said “I’m hungry” or “I’m bored” or “Are we there yet?” For once my three-year-old didn’t run away. He laid on the blanket with us and actually acted like a human in the family.
It was the best solid hour I’ve had in a long time. And it wasn’t like I was rocking parenting. I plan lots of events and activities that I think will be magical, but they unfold into a mess of whining and chaos. This one just happened to work out.
I guess that’s the thing about parenting. about 95% of it is hard and messy and I spend a lot of time wondering if I suck, but then 5% of the time is mind-blowingly amazing. Amazing enough to keep you going until the next magical hour. That moment when the planets align, when everyone gets along, and you, as the parent, get to look around at your family and think, “yeah, this is awesome.”