Sometimes it takes someone else, looking from the outside, to help us to see what is right in front of our faces. Last night my kids were going absolutely bonkers arguing with each other about what to play and pulling out anything and everything in the playroom until I couldn’t even walk across the floor without stabbing the arch of my foot into a Hot Wheels car or twisting an ankle on some doll’s neck and then my daughter screams at me for trying to kill her baby …One Deep Breath later… I went to my default action in a time like this and I herded the children outside ASAP. I didn’t care if their shoes were tied properly or if their jackets were zipped up, we just had to get outside in the open air so Daddy could avoid flipping out and screaming at everyone and shutting everyone away in their rooms while he cleaned up and gathered his thoughts. No, today, I was going to take a higher road and that road led right out the back door. I was hoping to stay inside long enough to make a cup of coffee before they would start arguing again and need some adult intervention. I watched from inside the kitchen as they found a spade and some plastic shovels and started digging up holes in the backyard. I was not happy about the holes being dug up in my yard but I was comforted by the fact that no one was arguing and they actually seemed to be working together on this landscaping project. By the time I made it outside into the yard they were about to gouge each others’ eyes out in a struggle for the metal spade that none of them was supposed to be using but everyone was dying to use. I decided to take them out to the playground behind our house and get their mind off their excavations. My two youngest were immediately attracted to the idea of digging holes in the sandbox area and my oldest son picked up his basketball and started dribbling around the basketball court morosely because he said he never got a chance to use the real shovel and that it wasn’t fair. I told him life’s not fair and he challenged me to a game of one on one in basketball. After a few minutes we got into the game and we did not go back inside until it was dusk and it was too hard to see the basketball bouncing in and out of our hands as we dribbled around each other. I got everybody back inside and cleaned up and fed and eventually put to bed. It wasn’t until later that I noticed the giant mess of a house that we had never cleaned up before I ushered them out of doors. It was too late for me to deal with by the time I noticed it and the mountain of mess in the playroom was still there in the morning. Did I somehow think that it would go away if I left it there overnight? I really hate to wake up to a mess. I packed my kids up and walked them to school, all the while dreading the cleaning up I was consigned to the rest of the morning once I got back home. It was then that I saw a neighbor who let out a big sigh upon seeing my kids and I walking to school.
“Aaahhh, I just loved seeing you guys play basketball out there last night,” she said. “I was doing the dishes and just watching you guys play,” she said. “It was beautiful.” She never told me exactly what she meant but I could see my own beauty in it, my son and I shooting baskets in the fading light of dusk. That’s when I felt how lucky I am to be doing what I am doing. Even in the midst of a mess in the playroom and an endless supply of clothes to be washed and the dirty cereal bowls in the sink, it’s great to be reminded of how wonderful and blessed my life is with my family. Sometimes it takes someone else, looking from afar, to let us know how good we have it.