Saturday morning, I forced my husband to go to Starbucks for a half-caff tall white chocolate mocha. (I point out the half-caff part so that you won’t think I am the most horrible irresponsible pregnant woman imaginable). Charged up by sugar and half-caffeine, I bravely suggested to my husband that we do the unthinkable– take the kids out for some birthday/Christmas shopping. On a Saturday. In December.
I strongly dislike taking my kids out shopping as a rule, mostly because they consider “maniac” to be an appropriate identity for children shopping with their mother. I also avoid most stores, especially big ones, on Saturdays generally, because they are evil. Add the extreme lack of holly jolly happiness that most Christmas shoppers tend to have, and this shopping trip had all the potential for the kind of blog post that makes people laugh but makes me cry. Still, we’ve been so busy that if we didn’t go Saturday it was possible our darling Ryan, who turns six on Friday (isn’t that ridiculous?), would have no presents whatsoever. Plus I kind of need to mail gifts to the relatives if I think they’re going to get there before Christmas.
So out we went. I dropped Art and Sam at WalMart (lucky them), and then Ryan and I headed to Michael’s, because the boys are making presents for their cousins this year.
Last week I started a new job, one that keeps me at work until nearly 6:00 every evening. Sammy and I still have our mornings together, but not being home in the afternoons means that Ryan and I haven’t really been seeing a lot of each other. Thus my decision to take him with me.
To be honest I didn’t really plan to have a good time. Ryan is a great kid. He is bright and funny and, according to his teachers, extremely well-behaved and a great friend to his classmates. I am so proud of him. But he drives me crazy. He is opinionated, bossy, loud, and kind of a control freak. It’s highly likely that he inherited these delightful qualities from a parent, and since Art is none of the above, I guess that would make Ryan a little clone of me. And if there’s one thing that an opinionated, bossy, loud control freak can’t deal with, it’s an opinionated, bossy, loud control freak who is supposed to be honoring and obeying his mother and is instead questioning everything she says.
Yeah, puberty should be interesting.
As wonderful as I know my son is (and he is wonderful, believe me), I have to constantly remind myself to notice his wonderfulness and not all the things he does that just drive me insane.
So as Ryan and I ran into Michael’s Saturday morning, me fueled by sugar and caffeine and him fueled by his unbelievable constant energy level, I was thinking that probably by the time we left the store we’d need some counseling or something.
What I didn’t know was that God had planned to give me an early Christmas gift that morning. The store was busy but not horribly so. And Ryan talked up a storm, and pulled the cart in the wrong direction, and laid in the middle of the floor in the despair of boredom when I took too long deciding between two kinds of paint, but we had so much fun together.
I think that Ryan and I have the kind of relationship that needs regular one-on-one time to make it work. Take him away from bossing his brother around, and take me away from the distractions of my computer and life, and we discover again that yes, in fact, we do love each other and like each other and enjoy time together.
It was only a couple hours– just a moment in the grand scheme of this crazy Christmas season– but in that moment I saw my amazingly tall, knowledgable, funny kid the way he deserves to be seen. It’s not his fault that we are too much alike. And truly, my not-quite-six-year-old puts up with me a lot better than I, who should be an example of love and acceptance, put up with him most of the time.
We need these moments so desperately. The moments when all the exasperations of life, all the annoyances and frustrations, can be forgotten as we focus on the precious gift of the people that God has placed into our lives. I need them with my husband, with my parents, with my sister, with my kids. With my Savior.
What a precious gift to be given this Christmas season– the reminder that I am so very blessed by this son so much like me.
I trust that you will find unexpected gifts during your December– gifts just sitting in your path, waiting for you to take a moment to unwrap and enjoy them. No surprise under the tree on Christmas morning could ever compare.
To read about more gifts discovered in the middle of ordinary everyday life, click on the icon.