10 Sorta Happy Things in this Summer of 2020
You guys, my kids are climbing the walls. They’re threatening to dig a hole in the backyard and fill it with tap water from the hose and call it a pool. They’re saying it’s too hot to play outside when it’s only 78 degrees. They’re daydreaming about places to visit, with the caveat: “some day–but when?” They volunteer to go with me to my mom’s because it means they get to sit in front of Hot Bench and Judge Judy, and maybe just maybe we’ll go get ice cream afterward.
You guys, they’ve stopped complaining about us taking them on hikes. That’s how bad it’s gotten.
Morale is down in our little corner of PA. We’re slowly starting to venture into the world again, but it’s slow going, and there’s not much on the horizon except more of the same. On a very hot day last week one of the kids actually got upset with me because we’ve never made friends with anyone who has a backyard pool.
(I told them we’ll try harder next time.)
I told you: we’re cracking a little bit over here.
All I can say is: yay for air conditioning and Disney+. Yay for the backyard sprinkler and Capri-Sun. But please say prayers the blow-up pool my mom bought them years ago still works, okay?
Here are some other things that are happy:
- My mom can’t really see anymore (this is the total opposite of happy, but hear me out). We’re not sure why: all we know is that she sleeps a lot, but when she’s not sleeping, her eyes are closed most of the time, and we have to identify ourselves when we walk in the door. Here’s the funny part, though: she’s listening. (Oh, she’s listening.) And the new fun thing is when we think she’s sleeping, and we’re chatting with each other and her caregiver and laughing, and one of us cracks a joke, all of a sudden we’ll hear Mom, from where she lies back on her recliner with her eyes closed and her hands curled in front of her chest, chuckling. Sometimes, she’ll crack a smart comment in response. She misses nothing. Those are the best times.
- (related to #1). This decline of my mom’s sucks. It’s slow and heartbreaking and I can’t begin to describe to you what this is like. Everything that’s been terrible these past 21 months was nothing compared to what’s happening now. BUT. (See? Happy.) She’s still there. Even though she can’t see, and sometimes can’t hear, and most of the time can’t really communicate all that well (None of that is happy, either, I know. Bear with me), her personality is so very much there. She still says “Hi, hon,” when she knows it’s me on the phone. She still says “I love you.” She still craves sweets and coffee over all other food–this is exactly what she preferred before she was sick, mind you–and remembers the plot points to Once Upon a Time and Downton Abbey. A hospice nurse randomly asked her how long she’d been living in her house, and she immediately–and accurately–stated, “Thirty-seven years.” Mom’s still there. And that part’s wonderful.
- The kids are obsessed with Star Wars. They watch it constantly. They’re debating what the next movie obsession is, though: Saoirse is rooting for Wonder Woman. Quinlan and Cian are thinking Titanic, as long as I fast-forward through the over-PG bits. Cian asked his dad if they could start Star Trek. Apparently Wrath of Kahn (did I spell that correctly?) is on the list, but when Quinlan heard that she scoffed. “Star Trek?! That’s just a hand-me-down Star Wars.“
- I miss writing every day desperately. This is, weirdly, a good thing. It means it hasn’t gone away even when I have.
- It’s mojito season. This is especially good because my mint plant is taking over the deck. (So is my basil, though, and you don’t see me cooking up lasagnas. But never mind that. Mojitos!)
- I occasionally listen to a podcast called The Purpose Show, by Allie Casazza. She’s basically the only mommy blogger/influencer/internet entrepreneur I check in with anymore (there are only so many millennials one can tolerate telling us 43-year-old farts to live our best lives, you know?), BUT. She had an interview with a life coach named Susie Moore, who mentioned something along the lines of this: whenever we’re saying yes to something, we’re saying no to something else. I like that. Especially since this year has had me riding this pendulum between home life/my mom (sadness! sadness!) and total avoidance/my phone/Netflix (coping! coping!), it’s good to remember. If I say no to some things I can say yes to more. (As long as it’s not more mojitos. I recognize the line.)
- It’s strawberry season, which is the best season outside of sit-in-front-of-the-fireplace-with-a-book season. That is all.
- Schitt’s Creek. We’re almost finished with the last season and don’t want it to go away. Ew, David.
- As I mentioned, we’ve been hiking. And even though Quinlan, on principle, despises any nature-based activity if it doesn’t involve swimming at some point, the kids are enjoying themselves. Well: Quinlan complains about the heat and how it would be so much better if a) it were swimming and b) not hiking, but goes along with it, and Saoirse just sort of quietly walks with us because she’s tween and being a tween is hard. Cian, on the other hand, will reach for my hand and declare, “I LOVE hiking! I just love all the new smells,” and then say, “Oh. I guess I’m kind of like a dog?”
- This slow pace. Friends, it’s actually really nice. The kids stay up too late but sleep in and wake up happy. They play basketball and ride their bikes and swing on the 70s-style swing set we installed a couple weeks ago (it’s a little like a toilet plunger: it ain’t pretty to look at, but it does the job). We see my mom without stress of sports and other places we “have” to be. Their life skills have quadrupled: dusting and vacuuming and scrambling eggs and doing the laundry, because there’s time to teach them, slowly. I don’t know how we’re going to look back at this time, but this part is good. This pause has been nice.
If any of you are treading water right now, know we’re bobbing along with you (actually, Quinlan would love that. Water!). On the flip side, if you’re taking charge and making changes or road-tripping to the beach, good on you. (I’m not mad at you anymore for creating a vacation, because I’d probably be doing it, too.)
Saoirse just caught my attention from the kitchen. “This is a good start to summer,” she said. And then she kissed me on the head and ran upstairs to play.
Maybe we’re not cracking that badly, after all.