I love learning new things and I love sharing them with you. This may seem like a no-brainer to you, or perhaps you’ll share in the enlightenment.
Friday, March 24th was Adilyn’s 5th birthday. Jessica came in from Colorado, and Adi’s aunt from her mom’s side hosted a Super Mario super bash on Saturday, and we were making a weekend of it.
Channeling Mom Maggie
Historically, when kids visit, I spend days preparing. I’d have at least two pots of soup ready in the fridge, supplies for a salad/sandwich bar prepared, cookies made, activities planned, and at least one restaurant reservation made.
I told myself I was spoiling them. Tapping into my inner Maggie.
Maybe it’s the season in a “vacation house” in a 55+ community surrounded by 55+ers who know how to play. Maybe it’s all the plans with kids that had to be rescheduled and modified this year. Maybe it’s some brand of acceptance. Maybe spoiling them actually means being relaxed and rested when they arrive.
For this visit, instead of cooking and cleaning and making things just so, I made one grocery trip for fresh fruit and veggies and eggs and good bread and frozen veggie burgers and ice cream and a couple of bottles of good wine. I tidied up and did a quick wipe-down.
While Michael went to the airport to meet Jessica, I went to yoga and ate leftover pizza and watched an episode of Virgin River.
Turns out, all of us working together to create a salad bar for lunch and letting them clean up worked well. No one inquired about the missing soup and cookies.
Being here for Adi’s party was special. Jessica and I had the privilege to meet her little friends from school and witness their precious interactions. Because I had no responsibility, (all was expertly handled by Adi’s Mom, Dad, and Aunt) I hung out with Benjamin who seemed a little overwhelmed by all the ruckus of kids running from the bounce house to the painting station to Mario croquet in the backyard to the pinata and gift opening and cupcakes. It was bonding for the two of us.
With all the kid visits this year, I’ve scaled back my preparations. I’ve continued with my daily schedule of pickleball or conditioning class or yoga. I’ve left them to their own devices for an hour or two. I’ve allowed them to treat me to dinners out. I’ve allowed the schedule to develop organically.
And, you know what? We still made memories. But not memories of Debi running around doing and exhausting herself. No one had little vases of fresh flowers on their nightstands. There was no sense of well-planned meals seamlessly showing up on the table. But still, I felt like there was a sense of “I’m just so glad you’re here and I love you!” I hope so. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.
So, what did I learn?
There are many ways to show love.
When Katie was here, I stayed home with the kids while she and BF enjoyed a father/daughter lunch date. When Becky was here, I set aside my fear of driving in unfamiliar territory and traveled to her for a sleepover where she treated me to, well, everything. And with this visit with Jessica, our treats were the big birthday party, taking Adi to swimming lessons, Letting Michael win at Splendor, picking grapefruit, and just watching Ben toddle around being cute.
And I must mention a pickleball lesson for Jessica, Michael, and me, where I had the joy of witnessing the effects of the investment I made in tennis lessons for those two years ago. And no, they did not let me win.
I hope for many more kid visits and I hope I will remember what I learned last weekend and over the course of the past season: Buy groceries, but don’t feel obligated to pre-peel, chop, or cook anything. Let the only agenda be feeling where they are and what they need/want. Play and invite them to play in my playground. And above all, just be present.