A couple of Friday nights every month, Stanton, the girls and I have Family Movie Night. We borrow this cozy idea from friends of ours, who do it with their own three children. Probably other families (maybe yours?) have made it a tradition in their homes too.
One Friday recently, the four of us settled in together on the couch and turned on “Frozen.” The girls have watched the Nordic-inspired story many times before; Stanton and I haven’t seen it that much, but we pretty much can harmonize on “Let It Go” by heart. Still, it’s a good movie, and we didn’t mind watching it again.
At one point in “Frozen,” (our) Anna smiled and said, “This is the part I love.” The part, of course, was when Elsa hugs an ice-cold Anna, and the sisters’ love for each other saves them both—and saves the day for everybody.
“‘This is the part I love'” made me smile. Favorite movies, favorite traditions, beloved people and places—they’re what make life sweet.
Sometimes Grace will tell me how much she likes different teachers at her school, some of whom she hasn’t had yet. I’ll ask why. Every time, she’ll reply, “They know me.”
To be known—it’s a beautiful thing.
Favorite movies, favorite traditions, beloved people and places—they’re what make life sweet.
Many a weekday morning, I hustle Grace outside, my hair still wet from my shower, and watch as she walks down the block to the bus stop. I wait in our yard until I see her get on the bus. Anna, meanwhile, often is tapping on the front bay window from inside, saying she’s hungry for a second breakfast before her school starts, 30 minutes later.
Approximately 9 a.m., Monday through Friday: always a fun time.
I bump into various neighbors almost every morning around this time. Possibly nobody really knows you until they’ve seen you standing outside your house at 9 a.m., hair still wet, yelling for your younger daughter to just get an apple, or a cheese stick, or “Fine, leftover Halloween candy is fine!” from the kitchen while watching down the block to confirm that your older daughter has safely boarded the school bus.
For better or worse, there are a handful of people on this earth who really know me. 😉
Once I said to one of these people, “For the record, I realize I look crazy every morning.”
“I’m not judging you if you’re not judging me,” he replied, which struck me as both kind and wise.
Possibly nobody really knows you until they’ve seen you standing outside your house at 9 a.m., hair still wet…
One morning recently, Stanton was heading out a little later than usual. I felt less rushed, having him around, another adult in the house. I was in the kitchen making the girls’ lunches, sipping some coffee, when I overheard him amiably ask them, “So, what time does school start, girls?”
Did my husband—their dad—really not know the answer to that question?
I peered into the family room. “Honey…are you serious?”
Stanton held up his hands. “What?”
Thoughts began tumbling across my mind, one after the other. Nothing can ever happen to me. I can’t die, ever…or at least not until Grace and Anna have graduated from high school. If anything happens to me, they’ll never get to school on time…or soccer practice…or doctors’ appointments…
“Mel, just tell me, and then I’ll know,” Stanton said.
“Stan, how could you not have known?”
This wasn’t, however, the hill I was going to die on, friends. It was a difference between Stanton and me, and possibly many other moms and many other dads. It was a difference, perhaps, in the same way that I never lock the bathroom door—just last week while I was showering, Anna pleasantly announced, “I’m barging in, Mom!” before barging in—while Stanton locks the door every time.
On the other hand, giving credit where credit is due, Stanton excels in other areas that aren’t my strengths. For example, he plays games all the time with our daughters. Actual games, like Crazy Chefs and Trouble, and make-believe games such as cops and robbers.
I, however, am not a big games person. Go to a park? Yes. Read stacks of books at the library? Count me in. Walk to a coffee shop? I’m there.
Break out the Pete the Cat Groovy Buttons board game, or you-pretend-to-be-Elsa-and-I’ll-be-Anna? Oh…only because I love you.
Grace and Anna have also (already!) shared they want their dad to teach them how to drive, about a decade from now. “Because you don’t know how to parallel park, Mom.”
I mean…truth. I haven’t parallel parked since the day I got my driver’s license. Thus, on numerous occasions over the years, I’ve deposited my car many blocks away from my destination to avoid parallel parking.
“Totally fine if you’d like Dad to teach you how to drive.” I’m not much of a games person, and not much of a car person either.
…just last week while I was showering, Anna pleasantly announced, “I’m barging in, Mom!” before barging in…
I’ve had my car, a Honda CR-V, for nine years now…and I’m still not exactly sure what all the buttons are for. I know how to start my car (not sure if this goes without saying… 😉 ). And turn on the radio, and click open the fuel tank—all the top-priority stuff. Some of the other dials and gauges, though…yeah, not too clear on all that.
This past Tuesday, Grace had her after-school performing arts class, as usual. I had been working from home all day, so hadn’t driven anywhere yet, which meant there was still ice on my car windshield from the particularly cold morning. “I really thought the sunlight would have melted this by now,” I told the girls.
Ask anybody: Sometimes I overestimate the power of natural sunlight.
I hadn’t defrosted the windshield since last winter, and was pretty sure but not positive which buttons to press. I pressed them, and not much happened.
“Mom, am I going to be late?” Grace wondered.
“Sweetheart, I promise, everything here is under control.” I frowned at the dashboard.
Anna laughed. “Everything is not under control, Mom.”
Who doesn’t love a backseat driver?
Stanton was at a meeting in Boston. I called him. He didn’t answer. I called him again. Still no answer. So what did I do?
Exactly, I called him a third time. Eventually, a husband will answer his wife’s hammer call. And this time, mine did.
I explained what was happening. Stanton listened and confirmed I had pressed the right buttons. “Just wait,” he said, “and the windshield will defrost.”
Suddenly, the windshield wipers began swishing back and forth. What the heck? When had I turned those on? Grace and Anna started laughing. “MOM!”
But the windshield had defrosted, and the girls and I were good to go. Problem solved.
Eventually, a husband will answer his wife’s hammer call.
I do my best to stay calm, solve problems. Sometimes I even save the day. Like this past Wednesday, less than 24 hours after the windshield situation.
“Whoops, Mom, I have a problem,” Anna called.
“What’s wrong, honey?” I was looking through notes, preparing for a conference call.
“I just went to the potty and accidentally dropped my bracelet in the toilet. Can you get it?”
Why? Why do things like this happen, and at the worst possible times?
No worries, friends. I’ll spare you the details of my heroics with the bracelet-in-the-toilet situation. That story ended, however, with this quote:
“Thanks for saving the day, Mom!”
But I mean…that’s what moms do, right? Time after time, over and over. We all know how the story goes, our own recurring Family Movie Night.
This is the part where you save the day (again).
Photo credit: Pixabay
Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short story, “Backtrack.” An engaging read that’s can’t-put-it-down good.