She crawled into bed with us in the small hours of the morning. Which wouldn’t be odd except that it is. Save for the rare, extravagant thunderstorm, nothing wakes her up. She’s never tried to snuggle between us before dawn. She usually sleeps straight on through, waking only when I or the sun pour into her room in the morning.
But there she was, almost completely asleep, except for the parts of her that were climbing on in.
And, of course, we know why. We know that school is different this year. Bigger and more challenging. She’s had to make new friends and adjust to missing old friends. She’s had to adjust to a new classroom and new teacher and she’s had to get through the day without a rest or a nap. She’s been tired and weepy in the evening. And when the sun and I try to coax her eyes open in the morning, it’s taking more effort.
And then there’s home. It hasn’t been smooth sailing here either. There have been appointments and discussions and fear and anxiety. And she feels every last bit. They both do. I try to hide it but my emotions are not things that like to be contained. They spill out all over and I know she sees it. They both do.
We know that the stress sitting on our shoulders is falling off onto theirs. We try to protect them from all of it but we are a family. We share it all, the good and the bad, whether we want to or not. So they both wake throughout the night, seeking what they didn’t get during the day. They need to make up what they missed.
So we decided to make it a Yes weekend. Yes to all the things. All of them. Yes to extra screen time and extra treats. Yes to this park and that park and every park in between. Yes to pumpkin patches and festivals and playdates and parties. When she asked, I said yes. If he wanted something and it wouldn’t cause bodily harm, I said yes. When we brainstormed ideas or ways to spend the afternoon, we said yes. Yes, yes yes.
And, of course, they were happy. They were happier than I’d seen them in weeks, maybe months. They bounced and they smiled and they giggled. And I’m sure part of that bouncy smile came from the chocolate chip pancakes they had for breakfast or the impromptu movie night that stretched past bedtime.
But part of it also came from the air. The air of relaxing. Of wanting to enjoy each other and our time together, as a family, more than wanting to control every moment. Of just wanting happiness and not letting anything get in the way.
I watched them at the park and my cheeks hurt from smiling. I watched them dash around the pumpkin patch and felt so happy I could have cried. I danced with her on the hayride and we were the only ones in our wagon who stood up to spin and twirl when the tractor stopped and she’s still talking about it. I watched them run around and play and slide and leap and I remembered that this is life. This is family In all of the living we’ve been doing over the past few weeks and months, the really hard, gritty, dirty living, we’d completely lost sight of this. This moment when living doesn’t mean arriving on time at appointments and filling out all of the paperwork and checking all of the boxes. This moment when living means just being here and saying yes.
Of course, we had to reign things in eventually. A family doesn’t run, at least not well, on chocolate chip pancakes and late bedtimes. But somehow, even with a few No’s, we’re back to life.