Tuesday, May 15, 2012

We Were Swangin'

I was thinking last night as I was waiting to fall asleep about writing this post. I was mentally composing the first paragraph. I wrote and edited it in my head and I was really happy with what I was going to write. It had some nice turns of phrase and a punch of humor at the end. It was really quite good.

And then I went to sleep and forgot it. This is how most of my life goes. I have flashes of brilliance about many different things in those times between waking and sleeping and then they are gone--vaporous like a mist--and I can never grasp them again, even though they sit there, floating around the pond of my thoughts, but always just out of reach.

So instead of brilliance, I give you What We Did Over The Weekend. Like I might have written in third grade. What can I say? When you don't have brilliance, you go with what you've got. And what we've got is some swinging.

My beloved is not the best at giving gifts. Don't get me wrong. He's generous--probably to a fault--but he just doesn't really know how to go about buying a gift without asking specifically what I want. So for the most part, I always know what I'm going to get, which, you know, isn't really such an awful thing. In the early years of our marriage, this used to bother me a lot. I'd think "Well, jeez! Just be creative! I love creativity! Or barring that, listen to me and buy me something that you hear me talk about but know I would never get for myself." This only led to frustration on my part, because my beloved just is not wired that way. While there have been a few occasions where I've been surprised, for the most part it goes like this:

Beloved: What do you want for  (fill in the occasion)?
Me: I'm sure you can think of something. (Just to give him the chance.)
Beloved: No, really. What do you want for _________?
Me: ________, or________, or ________. But you don't have to do them all! Or any of them! Whatever! It's all good! And really, sweet cupcake honeybunches, you are all the gift I'll ever need.

I may have made that very last sentence up. Sorry if it made you hork in your Cheerios. The point is, it's become a fairly well-oiled operation: he asks, I demur, he asks again, I give him a list, he gives me something from the list, we are both happy. Just to switch it up now and again, I tell or show Maggie what I want, and then she lets Patrick know or goes shopping with him and then I can almost fool myself into being surprised.

It may be a little strange that my husband buys me a gift for Mother's Day, now that I stop and think about it. After all, I'm not his mother. Although sometimes when I'm putting away his laundry it can feel like I am. And my kids--well, my younger ones anyway--always give me a homemade gift, which always makes me all squishy-hearted and teary. I guess it started when the kids were little and wanted to shop for something for me and, being May, I almost always asked for something for the yard or garden. One year they got me some planters and the kids and I spent the day planting flowers. Now, if I said "Hey kids! Who wants to help me plant flowers?" all they would hear is "Hey kids! Who would like to go outside into the unairconditioned sunshine and toil like an unpaid peasant where your hands might get dirty and there might be bugs?" So this year, when my beloved noticed that Mother's Day was approaching, I had already planted a bug in Maggie's ear. Um...not literally.

I have always wanted a swing. Growing up, I lived in a big four-square house with a big front porch on a busy corner in a small town. My dad didn't build a porch swing until I was grown and moved away with kids of my own, so I never really enjoyed it but for short stretches when we visited. Our first home in Minneapolis,  had a screened back porch, but not enough room for a swing or a glider. Our next home in Indy, we built a deck and had lovely furniture and we built the kids a playscape, but I had no swing and there was no more room in the yard to put one. This house has a very nice patio in the back yard and after we moved our lovely outdoor furniture onto the patio, we had room left over. And this year, as I was walking around a home improvement store with Maggie, we spied the patio swings and I told her that that was what I would like to have for Mother's Day.

Being a bright and dutiful daughter, she mentioned it to her father, who then walked around for a good part of last week saying "I know just what you're getting for Mother's Day--and I thought of it all by myself!" This was said with a grin that implied the very opposite. I would just look at him and smile and  say "Of course you did! Just be sure to take Maggie with you, she knows the one I like."

My beloved, my sweet cupcake honeybunches (and this time, I might actually mean it) spent several hours on Saturday, assembling my new swing. It's a sweet ride. I sat in it and laid on it for most of the day on Sunday, reading and watching the birds and swinging with various of my offspring that would wander close enough for me to snag and pull onto the swing with me. I even took this picture of my motley crew of blessings on Mother's Day after church.

I cannot tell you just exactly how well this picture shows their individual personalities. I never did get one where they were all looking at me and smiling. But I love this picture nonetheless, because it's a perfect snapshot of our life.

A good, generous, and loving husband and four bright, funny, loving children--this mama is blessed. The swing? It's gravy, baby, smooth, swinging gravy.

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