I had big plans for today. My farm-loving boy and I were going to Cherry Crest Farm, where we would (according to their website) befriend some animals, climb the straw tower, take a tractor-pulled wagon ride, launch apples and shoot paint balls at various targets, and of course…conquer the corn maze.
Ian would absolutely love it; I’d be “Fun Mom” for once instead of my usual “Mean, Boring Mom.” It was a win-win scenario in my opinion.
Ian and I have found ourselves home alone together for several days. Daniel is one week into a business trip, and Alice is at camp. Life is quiet. Very quiet. Too quiet. On several occasions, I’ve caught myself talking out loud in empty rooms in hopes of engaging someone…anyone… in coherent conversation. (Thankfully, that hasn’t happened.)
Late yesterday afternoon, I needed to leave The Quiet. Luckily my parents were home, so I spent the evening eating their food and enjoying their company. But when we came home later that night, it was quiet again…loudly quiet, and I was possibly more lonely than before we left.
To combat The Quiet, I found myself looking at Cherry Crest’s website, plotting my game plan for the upcoming day of fun. I was looking forward to being in a crowd of diverse people, feeling confident that I could still function in a grown-up world. I’d be reminded that life exists beyond dirty dishes and my dust bunny friends. I might even exchange a few
thousand words with some poor, unsuspecting soul. I felt like I was about to emerge from my cocoon.
The problem was that this morning when Ian heard my plan, he wasn’t excited. At.All.Not.One.Bit. In fact, he was downright adamant that he was staying home.
Honestly, I wasn’t overly surprised by this although I had hoped that shooting at things might be the seller for him. There is a reason I refer to Ian as “my homebody.” Whenever there’s anywhere to go, Ian would rather stay home.
To the park? Nope. Swimming? Nope. Out for ice cream? Nope. Hershey Park? Nope. In fact, the most common phrase out of this child’s mouth (other than “I’m bored. There’s nothing to do.”…do you see the irony?) is “I just want to stay home”.
I get it. I do.
By nature I too weigh in heavily on the I’d-rather-be-at-home side of the scale, although I have my limits, which I had—fully and absolutely—reached.
Over the years, I have tried to honor Ian’s homebody-ness since I am usually commiserating with him. However! I also know that sometimes what I need is a swift kick out the door in order to experience new things that are life enriching and surprisingly fun.
So what was I going to do with this one? Honor the homebody or give him that swift kick?
Neither. I went into survival mode.
One thing I have learned with single parenting 24/7 for two+ weeks at a time is that my energy is precious; there’s pretty much none to spare past Day #4. Instead of using that energy to force my kids to do fun things, I have to save it for when I need to force them to do the not-so-fun-things.
With my energy reserves already heading toward fumes, I reluctantly and sorrowfully said in the most adult voice I could muster (which may have sounded more like whining), “Fine! We’ll stay home. But there’s no! extra screen time [which is what I may have resorted to the day before to keep him entertained without Alice], and we will need to go shopping instead [which he hates!].
In other words, we’ll stay home, but it ain’t gonna be fun.
So we’ve been home all morning and into the afternoon; it’s been quiet. (Shocking, I know!) No screens until 1:45p is the rule.
After lunch I picked up the book I’ve been reading since May entitled “The Gift of an Ordinary Day.” This book isn’t a gripping tale, and to be completely honest, I’ve read several books in between slowly turning the pages of this one.
The plot feels almost lackadaisical, but that’s probably the point since the book is about the aftermath of a woman who moves her family far away from the only house they’ve known, and on top of that, she loses her work-from-home-job.
Her once active and very busy world crashes to a fiercely quiet halt. Through this, she learns to appreciate the present, enjoy mundane tasks, and let the future happen on its own accord. She finds gifts in unexpected places, in The Quiet.
As I read a couple pages, the gifts of my own quiet morning resonated inside me.
Ian and I sitting side by side in front of the music stand, working on a guitar song.
Brainstorming together about a birthday present for Alice.
His questions and endless chatter about his new obsession, remote control cars.
Him wanting my opinion on which truck and RV he should purchase in the future. (I want you to come to the dealership with me, Mom.)
Me sorting out school supplies while he sharpened pencils.
Him driving his tractor around the living room while singing Christmas songs.
Both of us leaving the lunch table to watch a pair of goldfinches on the wilted sunflower by our mailbox.
I’m sure by the end of the day we will play outside, and I will read “Hank the Cowdog” out loud for as long as he can coax me to keep reading, even while he brushes his teeth and stalls for more time as he arranges and re-arranges his stuffed animals just so. One more page, pleeeaaasse?
As I put him to bed, he will hopefully ask me to lay down beside him. And since I know those requests are numbered, I will rest beside his warm, little body before giving him a crushing hug and a sloppy kiss.
These are the gifts of this quiet, ordinary day—my treasures that I could never find at Cherry Crest.
* * *
First thing the next morning, much to my surprise, Ian came into my room. “Fine!” he declared. “Let’s go.” (Apparently he also gets cabin fever, just a little later than I do.)
And we did.
At the end of the sweaty, tiring day, he thanked me and said he had a great time. I did too, and I will savor the gifts from both days spent together.