Savor the small moments

The small moments are the big moments. Photo by Pablo Merchán Montes on Unsplash

One of my favorite books 2018 was How to Be a Happier Parent by KJ Dell’Antonia. One reason I loved it so much was her gentle reminder that, for most of us, the stress and strain we are feeling are part of a life we chose. Her advice is to stop what you are doing from time to time to notice a moment — and ordinary, not-perfect-but-good-enough moment — and remind yourself “Oh yeah, this is it. This is what it’s all about.”

It can be a random Sunday night — sitting at the dining room table, reading the paper, listening to your daughter work out math problems with your husband, helping your son wipe up the juice he spilled on the table. Yup, this is it. It’s not even close to perfect, but it’s pretty darned good.

My 8-year-old is smarter than I am.

Children’s Place may be the seventh circle of Hell. I’m sure had Dante ever gone he’d have written it into The Inferno.

Going there with either kid is painful. Going with both is … much, much more painful.

Me, to Sam: “How about this shirt?”

Sam: “Does it glow in the dark?”

Me: “Yes.” {Okay, I’m lying. I’m totally lying. It’s a shirt he will wear IN THE DAYTIME. Who cares if it glows it  the dark? He’ll never know the truth.}

Sam: “Where’s the sticker?” {Ah! Outsmarted by an 8-year-old. He knows the glow in the dark clothes have stickers on them. He’s clearly smarter than I am.}

Art Appreciation with Maddie

Maddie didn’t have school today but Sam did. So she and I went to MoMA to see the monumental Picasso Sculpture exhibit. I’d seen it with a friend earlier in the week, which was good — it’s hard to fully take in an exhibit while also helping a kid experience it. Seeing it with her after seeing it on my own was perfect. And boy did she love it.

We got her one of the audio guides. I wasn’t sure if she’d like that, but she really got into it. To the point that she mostly focused on the pieces that had audio. She especially loved the ones that had audio geared toward kids. At points I watched her nodding along with the audio and then saying “Oh! I see it!” in response to something the curator was pointing out.

Seeing art with a kid is a revelation. Some of her observations were just amazing. Of a sculpture of a woman’s head she said “From this angle she looks kind, from this angle she looks crazy and from that angle she looks serious.” She also noticed that the gallery that had the sculptures from Picasso’s years in occupied Paris was darker (dark gray walls, dimmer lighting) than the other galleries and that it felt “scary.” Quote: “This room is a little like dum, dum, duuuuuum …”

She was less impressed with Andy Warhol’s Soup Cans. She stood in the dead center of the room, ringed by the paintings, and declared “This is dumb” in a voice loud enough that Warhol himself may have heard her. She did like the Marilyns.

At dinner she wanted to share her experience with Sam so we played some of the audio clips from the MoMA app. One of the kids clips mentioned Picasso’s idea that all children start out as artists, that the problem was how to stay an artist when you grow up. Maddie looked at me solemnly, with the wisdom of her nearly 8 years, and said “It’s hard.”

Mother’s Day, 2013

Can we believe how big these kids are?

We had a good day. I got to do my Sunday kickboxing class, and then it was off to Cheeburger! Cheeburger! for lunch. (It is, according to Maddie, my favorite restaurant. I can assure you, it is not.) Then it was just hanging out at home with a nice dinner cooked by Daddy.


Uncle Bill

This week my great uncle Bill passed away. I last saw him at his 80th birthday party in Florida.

But he was a big part of my childhood. Actually, to be fair, it was his wife, my great aunt Madeline who was a HUGE part of my childhood. She took care of my sister and I while my mother worked. She was such a big part of my life that I name my daughter after her. She died about 15 years ago and I still miss her.

But Uncle Bill was there too, always. With his hearty laugh and his big hugs. We went camping with them and on various outings. I remember visiting their house in Weymouth — for a time they lived in an in-law apartment they’d built in the garage of their former house so their son Tim and his wife could live in the main house. For some reason my sister and I found that little apartment fascinating.

His granddaughter Jennifer wrote a lovely post about him.

Good-bye Uncle Bill. You will be missed.