Monday, November 12, 2007

Little Hotel In the Big Desert

As an absolutely hopeless Laura Ingalls Wilder fan, I probably entered motherhood with unreal expectations about family bonding. You know, smoking and salting meat together, buying hard candy in town, placing hot bricks at the foot of our beds to keep warm, and Brad playing the fiddle while we all dance around in the latest calico fashions.

This week, however, Jackson, Lilly, and I have had some togetherness like never before. Sharing a room, a bathroom, and having NO TIME AWAY FROM EACH OTHER does that.

And even more shocking: I've loved almost every minute.

You all know that I try to keep it real about parenting--the years go by too fast, but the days can seem so long. Right? I made no secret of my glee the day Lilly and Jackson both returned to school. Paaarrrrrtttaaaayyyyy!

Obviously, it's not that I don't adore them, but I also love coherent and uninterrupted thoughts, a tidy home, and getting out of the shower without hearing a Tattletale Recap of the past five (ok, 20) minutes.

But somehow all of this togetherness combined with a change of scenery has brought out the best. At home when the kids sleep over in each other's rooms, there is SHOUTING and SCREAMING at deafening decibels and one of them ends up crossing the hall to sleep alone. Here, the exhaustion from swimming and swimming and swimming has them sacked out with barely a sigh.

As I tuck them in, I picture Ma Wilder going from cot to cot, treating each child like they were in a room alone, even though privacy was nonexistent.

So I tied on my apron and did the same.I still get to hear the highs and lows of J & L's days, and sang them an individual lullaby...even though they are only five feet from each other.

My little (big) Jackson has been The Man. Seriously. He has been responsible for the room key, privacy sign on the door, cell phone, and making sure his sister doesn't drown. I'm trying not to picture him in his psychologist's office realizing he enabled his mother for all those years...

Today at the pool, he spent all kinds of time swimming around with Lilly on his back because that's what she wanted. I pray she appreciates this some day.

I guess when all you have is each other, companionship has time to bloom. Jackson and Lilly do get along pretty well (for siblings that is, not the general public--unless you consider calling a casual acquaintance a Poopie Head "pretty well").

They made an effort to take turns choosing games and also took care to get each other a banana at the breakfast buffet. Which they then used as laser guns and blasted hotel guests all the way up the stairs.

I would much rather go out to dinner or do just about anything as a family, but getting to spend focused time with the kids is also fun. When I am not distracted (read: kept sane) by adult conversation, the kids' behavior is phenomenal.

Working with Jackson on his ocean sticker book and helping Lilly write out her Christmas list was relaxing and, in the truest sense of the word, a delight. The restaurant chefs made a fabulous dinner (and since it was Houston's it was extra fabulous), we each ate what we wanted, no clean up, no phone ringing, and no thinking about what is on the schedule for tomorrow. (Although we did plan out the next day's breakfast. The apples don't fall far...)

So of course, the kicker is that this isn't real life. Next week all of my diligent slacking, combined with over-committing, school, home staging, and fixing my own meals will rise up and slap me in the face.

As a warning, I will probably start hyperventilating and shouting, "I just need a vacation!" sometime early on Tuesday.

But that's why I blog. To remember that life is the sum of these many moments woven together. To know that laughing amidst disaster keeps me from crying my eyes out. To appreciate the mundane while on vacation and dream about relaxation while cleaning the bathtub.

I am channelling my inner Ma Wilder, but in my wildest imaginations (even on the banks of Plum Creek) I can't imagine her like this:


Tricia said...

You are one cool Mom, Nicole. That's all there is to it.

I still say that you were my inspiration when I was pregnant... when Jackson was your three-year-old little buddy, and every time I arrived at your house, I stepped over a chalky hopscotch pattern with his name beside it.

When I learned the joy that I was having a boy of my own, I thought of you and Jackson, and your late night movie dates while Brad was traveling.

And now I have a little buddy of my own... two of them.

Maybe someday we'll have a cool chick, like Lilly.

Katie said...

I'm loving your blog, Nicole! I cannot get over what a good and hilarious writer you are! I'm loving keeping up on the many adventures of the Rowell gang.

I had to drop a note about that Laura Ingalls Wilder entry - it brought back memories of Miss Holman's 2nd grade class, and me trying to keep up with you as you voraciously sped through all of the books in the series. Confession: I would skip whole chunks of a book to make it appear I was on par with you. Please forgive me, you Cheetah reader, you :).