Three little girls fighting in the front yard about who gets to be the mommy. It's an age-old question really. No brainer about who's the dad; Abe is the only boy around. Lots of yelling, very shrill yelling.
The father turns in my direction, his back to the fight. Shrugs both his shoulders. Asks me with furrowed brows, "What they sayin' Mom?" Then turns back to the girls, shouts, "Stop fighting! Stop fighting!"
The following day, the reluctant father escaped the shackles of shared parenthood with three bickering girls to spend a large portion of the day with a girl about a year younger than him.
While the kids did stuff like this:
I reveled in finding an Audrey Hepburn-esque sweater on a consignment sale rack. A meander through an independent bookstore located in an old train car. 12 oz cup of Stumptown Holler Blend and biting into the crispy goodness of a cherry handpie, the flaky sugary bits falling all over my new sweater, the one I immediately put on post purchase because I'd been feeling frumpy for weeks now and oh what a girly sweater can do to lift a mood. Hail and rain storm while parked outside Powell's bookstore, talking with one of my oldest and dearest friends from high school. Ordering a book for a friend, then the serendipity of seeing Olive Kitteridge displayed, a book I'd forgotten the title of that had just been recommended to me the night before. Home. Logging into my public library account and placing holds on books I've been wanting to read. Reading blogs. Reading the New York Times, whole articles from start to finish. A bike ride in the sun through my neighborhood, peddling fast enough to get my heart pumping but not so fast to break a sweat. Perfect.
I go to pick up my boy, feeling energized and light. Show off the new sweater to my friend. Discover that Abe had walked over two miles and find him like this:
We drive an hour to visit two of Abe's cousins (he has close to 30). Abe loves his family but when I suggest that he go with them to the park to play while I run an quick errand, a tiny frown appears. I come around to his carseat to get him out, notice a quivering bottom lip and tears welling up, now starting to overflow. He grabs my shoulders, pulls me to him, and I ask if he doesn't want to go play? He whispers into my neck as he clings to me, "but I would be sad."
He then says very quietly that he wants to stay with me, and in that moment my heart fills with many things at once--the reminder that my extrovert is still a wee one who needs his mama, the fragility of us humans, our connectedness to each other, the "mama bear" in me who wants to protect the cub from any sadness or pain, the sweetness of knowing that Mr. Independent sometimes needs to snuggle after a few hours away, that I would die without flinching for this small creature with a quivering lip in the backseat of my car.