Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Spaces Between

It was a Monday morning and I had just dropped my 4 year old off at her dance class. Instead of sitting in the overcrowded waiting room with 2 kids for an hour, I had a revelation that there was a little park with a playground and lake right across the small side street and it was a gorgeous September day. So, I took my baby and 2 ½ year old over to check it out. We sat at the picnic table and enjoyed a snack and the breeze. I even found something in my bag with which to feed the ducks on the pond, an activity that my 2 year old delighted in! It was a happy little hour and I smiled at my simple brilliance in taking a mundane, everyday activity and making it enjoyable.

Monday rolled around again the following week, and the weather was once again glorious. This time, I planned it all out. I packed up old bread I had saved throughout the week with the purpose of feeding the ducks and I brought a journal and a book so I could a have a little “Me” time while my daughter played on the playground. I practically skipped with glee over to the park. The day was picture perfect.

First things first. Let’s feed those ducklings we’ve been talking about all morning! As I got out my bread, a snow white goose strolling around the grass started approaching us, honking, with the clear intent of a free lunch gleaming in his black eyes. He wasn’t aggressive, but very ‘assertive’ and not one for acknowledging manners, patience, or personal space. He was freaking my daughter out (which is not hard to do given that an ant will send her into a sheer panic). I made the mistake of trying to appease him with a few morsels of bread, but this is much like feeding a seagull on the beach only to find that he turns into a kamikaze. We somehow make it to the waters edge, with this annoying goose terrorizing us, and rousing his nearby goose friends on the shore who start meandering our way. I begin throwing bread into the water, hoping to lure them in there. Okay, well here come some ducks paddling on the pond… and more ducks… and geese… by land and by sea… an army of hundreds! Okay, this is not fun. In the end, both my children and I are screaming as I throw the rest of my bread in one direction and run in the other, carrying one hysterical child and pushing the other in the stroller.

Now, that we’ve made our getaway to the opposite side the park where there is a playground, its time for me to sit in the sunshine, pop a bottle in the baby’s mouth and read. An entire 30 seconds go by before I’m interrupted by my 2 year old’s modern dance routine. No wait, that’s the “pee pee dance." No way! We just visited the restroom before we crossed the street! But she clarifies that while she needs a bathroom, it’s not for pee pee. Okay, back we go to the dance studio, but it’s a false alarm. We trudge back to the park (no skipping with glee this time). It’s a whole 60 seconds before she’s twisting her lower body into a pretzel again shouting “POOPS! POOPS!” For the love of all that is good and sane in this world!! By the time we get to the bathroom, it’s beyond too late. Without getting too graphic, she did indeed need to go poop, and I can see why she couldn't hold it in. Of course, I don't have a change of clothes, because that would actually make life easier. I clean the mess the best I can, ditch the undies in a plastic baggie and, because I’m a glutton for punishment and won’t give up my dream, I’m back to the park.

I kid you not, before my butt is even on the bench, a very friendly gentleman who had been strolling by decides that it might be nice to find random person with whom to strike up a lengthy conversation. So, next thing you know, he is now telling me his full life story. When he finally leaves, I spend the next few moments pondering why the Universe is so against me today only to have my thoughts interrupted by my daughter who has announced again that she needs to go “pee pee.” I add “Call the Urologist” to my “To Do list”, and sullenly head back to the dance academy for good.

I write about this day not because it was really very significant. In fact, sadly, it resembled most of my days and probably most of yours too. I write about because I learned something. You can’t always create the magic that spontaneity brings. How many times do we try to pose for a family portrait, only to find the photograph that steals our heart is the candid one snapped by accident or on a whim? Our first day at the park had not been contrived. We embraced the spontaneity of it, took advantage of everything that unfolded, and appreciated the joyful simplicity of it all. There was no agenda, no deliberateness, just sharing the happiness of being together.

Sometimes the best moments in life aren’t the ones you orchestrate, but the quiet, sweet moments that live in the spaces between. Perhaps much of real living is experienced in the daily activities and interactions that find you rather than the big moments you construct. The moments you create off the cuff. The moments flying by that you seize and make your own. Be careful not to overlook or dismiss the opportunity for these moments, because they are each day’s little treasures - the opportunity to turn boredom into fun, frustration into laughter, make something exciting out of monotony, and peel back the ordinary to find extraordinary little gems. Its like the time when I stepped out of character and, on a whim, let the girls run out in our lawn sprinklers completely dressed. Their shrieks and giggles as they got soaked to the skin, amazed that their Mommy indulged them this fantasy, still makes me smile. These are the moments that stay in my heart, and theirs.

In the end, after my eldest’s dance class was over, we all walked back over to the park. I gave up the idea of trying to read, and instead we chased each other around the trees, throwing the fallen leaves in the air, picked wildflowers, and cast sticks in the lake. As luck would have it though, the festivities ended prematurely when my 2 year old fell into said lake. It was okay though because, yet again, someone had to pee like a race horse. Only this time, it was me.

This is an original post to by Alicia DiFabio.


BeckyO2001 said...

I have gone to that park a couple of times to feed the ducks with my kids (and Angela's kids) and we have nicknamed the white duck Gus. He is very assertive and makes me laugh every time we see him but we have never gotten scared and ran from him or any of the other ducks, lol. You made me crack up reading that part!

Michelle said...

I like this one a lot. Not just because it's well written (which it is), but because it's deep but funny. Now if you would just blog more often! But I guess that's the sign of a great writer - she keeps her readers longing for more.

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