Hope within my reach
I will be worthy of that cape.
I ended my post “Becoming a superhero” with these words.
How could I earn that cape? Not by battling super villains or saving entire countries from natural catastrophes, but by my attention and engagement with my kids.
I’ve remembered that cape here and there, and gone through periods of donning the cape and losing it deep within the wreckage of my perpetually untidy house. (It’s okay; Thunder Thighs had a perpetually dirty house, too, but she saved the world for four kids all the same.)
These things seem to come in cycles as life’s balances shift. I’m comforted remembering no one can be a superhero all the time. Even Superman needs the downtime of being inconspicuous Clark Kent, as Batman needs to occasionally intersperse weaponed battles with the usually more mundane ones of Bruce Wayne’s day to day life.
Yesterday, I sat down at the kid table with my sixteen-month-old son while my husband and older son slept. Littler J and I ate together slowly.
I burped. Littler J laughed uproariously, so I burped again.
He tried burping, making a deep throaty noise and laughing at himself.
I spent the next four hours focused on him and, later, his older brother. I checked not a single message or picture on any site, instead focusing on noticing the grooves in my sons’ cheeks when they smiled and frowned. On what made them smile and frown.
Later, we went to the park to meet friends. I discovered Littler J thinks my leaping–especially with legs splayed–is hilarious. I ran and jumped all around in the shade of the tree we’d parked under.
He tried to jump, but could only manage spinning in wide circles.
It was all so mundane.
It was all so amazing.
This morning, I spent an hour and a half with my boys before my husband shuffled out and proclaimed his fever broken.
I was sad he’d awakened. I’d been having such a great time with my little boys! Unwilling to call the us-three portion of the morning over, I readied both boys to join me on my weekly shopping trip.
The trip wasn’t quiet, or mellow, but it was amazing. All so amazing.
As I drove home, with one son howling at the injustice of being in the car seat and the other about slamming his arm in the car door, I soaked it all up.
And I realized one of the other reasons the last couple of months have been so hard for me: While my husband’s been between jobs, I’ve had almost no time with both my sons.
While my husband is working, I do most the kid-wrangling because his job’s hours are long and erratic. I’m bone-tired by the end of each day, but I’m content, too.
With my husband home each and every evening these days, and with us always taking one kid apiece, I’ve missed out on something I didn’t even realize was important to me: time with both my littlest guys, together. I’ve missed out on some of the quiet time I have with kids in bed those evenings my husband is away.
No matter how much I love my husband, I am an introvert. I savor quiet times where either no one is speaking … or if someone’s speaking, it’s Larry Wilmore, who neither needs nor expects a response from me.
I’ve spent the last few months trying to talk myself into feeling a sense of hope. I’ve searched for it and felt saddened by my inability to grasp it, instead of reaching feebly for tendrils to find it–to find her–dancing just outside my grasp.
Yesterday morning, I woke up before 5:00 a.m. and it was there. I worked to keep it, searching for it not online but in what is all around me already.
I was beat by 4 p.m., fighting my own fever, but I was full anew of hope.
This morning, thanks to Candy Land, boys at play underfoot while I cooked, and a noisy shopping trip, I’ve kept hope kindled.
How will I maintain that? By swapping solo time with my husband at least every other weekend as we’ve agreed we’ll do. By occasionally seeing my friends–in person, with my very own eyeballs, and reveling in their hugs. By spending time alone together with both my kids. By slowing down as often as I remember, and being wholly in this moment.
Hope doesn’t just exist. I must cultivate it and, when it’s flickering, rekindle it. I’ll have the fuel to do that day in and day out not by just plodding through and thinking I have to find it eventually, but by doing things that energize me and bring me joy.
By this quiet joy, I will invite–and welcome, enduringly–hope to keep dancing within my reach.