I smile as I type this because the plans that I painstakingly made before we made our annual long [not usually this long] trip back to the U.S., the phone calls to the various appointments that I so carefully thought through, they all disintegrated the moment our plane touched down in Dee-troit.
Life, as it always does, threw us a curve ball at the end of June. A subtle curveball, but an unexpected head-scratcher, nonetheless.
We didn’t expect it to turn out this way: the fact that we all got sick, except for Vivienne who licked the armrest on the airplane on the way here (note to all: lick every armrest on every plane henceforth to prevent illness), the fact that we spent far more time than we ever would have imagined holed up in my brother’s condo in downtown Toledo (of which we are so grateful — it was home to so many memories), the fact that we didn’t get to see or experience all that we had planned — including visiting with many who are close to our hearts.
The bottom line is that this trip isn’t what I thought it would be.
When you live out of the United States and work full-time, you amp up and start thinking of what your vacation back to the States is going to be like. How your days will be filled with joyously hiking and running in metroparks, munching hot dogs at Toledo Mudhens baseball games and swimming in friends’ and family’s pools. Your brain checks out and you think, “These next days – they are MINE! They are all mine! No work, no other worries — just family and vacation and FUN.”
That’s not the way this vacation went down.
STILL, the unexpected surprise in all of this is how happy and complete everything feels despite the chaos.
The unintended turned out to be a time of renewal; a time or restoration and appreciation.
I’ve been with my husband and my ladies: our “fah-mee-lee”, as Lila calls it and it’s been so cool. I’ve been with my sweet girls, my walking hearts, for over a month every.single.day… and my heart is full.
I’m a Mom who works full-time and I spend my days away from my ladies and for a while there, that was getting me down. I felt guilty. I felt cheated. I needed someone to blame. It made me sad.
Then THIS! Holy Toledo. I needed time to be ME; to be with THEM. Because this role I have as their Mom is by far and away the coolest, most incredible thing I have ever done and I value every SECOND I have with them.
This time, this crazy, glorious, insane, chaotic time has s-l-o-w-e-d me down and made me do what my soul needed to do: stop. be. soak. enjoy.
I wasn’t soaking up rays by any pool. In fact, I ironically haven’t been in a pool since May. But my heart, oh my friends, my heart is happy. Day in and day out our temporary abode has been filled with conversations that have doubled me over in laughter, with games and coloring books and giggles and time.well. spent.
About half way through our trip the internet card that we were borrowing went kaput. Welcome back to Year 2000. No wireless? What? What do I do at night? I HAVE ONLINE SHOPPING I need to do and BLOGS to read and most importantly, blog posts to write.
It’s like the universe, or someone else perhaps far more important, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Nope. Uh-uh. Sit. Relax. Put your phones down. No computer, either. S.l.o.w. d.o.w.n. Enjoy. Just be.”
Hello, my name is Kylee and I haven’t had wireless or any regular internet access for nearly two weeks… and it’s the best thing that’s happened to me in quite some time.
Now don’t get me wrong, this time has been littered with obstacles and challenges: fevers, missed surgeries, busy-ness, illness, disappointment, dehydration, conflict, frustration, tears, annoyance… but as I sit here and type this, my heart, as I said, is full.
I treasure the subtle changes that I’ve seen in my daughters just since we arrived. Lila has a new voice both literally and figuratively. Since her surgery, the tone of her voice has indeed changed. And, I don’t know what happened; but she’s grown up and her conversations are awesome. She knows words that I don’t ever remember teaching her. Oh, and the conversations! She may look like Craig, but Lila is me. She’s a 33-year-old 3-year-old. And she has valid feelings and concerns and she has kept me on my toes more than I could have ever expected.
During our sustenance refusal period post-tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy:
Me: “Lila, you must eat that chicken noodle soup.”
Her: “No, I don’t want to.”
Me: “Lila, you must eat something. After surgery, it’s very important to eat.”
Her: “I will not eat it. No want to.”
Me: “Lila, listen to me. I’m the Mommy. This is non-negotiable, that means that you must eat the soup because I said so. Eat.it.”
Her: “YOU, listen to me. I am the sister and I no want to eat it.”
Her: “…but I will eat a cupcake. I have a cupcake, please Mommy?”
…and, that’s my girl.
My girls, something has changed with their relationship. Maybe it’s because it is a relationship now. They giggle and laugh and play together. And when they’re apart, they want one another. (Which warms our hearts. Maybe? We’re doing something right?) They consider one another. They hold hands. They giggle. They fight. They hug. They’re protective of one another. They belong to one another. We’ve seen this shift between them and it’s so cool. Having them a year-and-a-half-apart was the best non-decision we’ve ever made.
And Vivienne. Oh, the more I snuggle her and hold her and spend time with her the more she confirms my pre-second baby theory that when you have another child, your heart just grows more than you could ever expect.
My Vivi Kate makes me laugh all day long. Her expressions, especially. My current favorite is the shocked look, raised eyes and and eyebrows that accompany her response to, “What sound does an owl make?” In the highest of highest octaves, she says, “Who-who…” And then she does it. She looks at me… waits… and… waits longer… and of course I burst into laughter because it is the.cutest.sound.I have.ever.heard and then she collapses with laughter because she knows that she just performed for me and that I love her to the moon and back.
Ah, the moon and back… that phrase.
I love another person that same journey a million times over. I don’t know how it happened that life worked out in such a way that I am his and he is mine, but it is as it should be.
It’s as simple as that.
There’s no other. There just really is no other like him…
So, call this is a love letter to my family, call it a learned lesson or a scientific conclusion, but this past month has been the perfect mess.
I’ve held Vivienne closer a bit longer…
I’ve talked with Craig a bit longer…
I’ve played and colored with Lila a big longer…
…and if I could go back and do this whole trip over, I would not, could not… because this trip gave me perspective and grounded me at the same time.
Life is good.
There is much, much, MUCH to be thankful for.
Thank you to all of you who are reading this. Thanks for sticking by me during this on-again-off-again-blogging month. We’ll be back in Cabo Sunday afternoon.