Sundays are exchange day with my ex. The kid is always a little rocky and strange, understandably. He moves from one home with one set of rules (or lack thereof), and into another where the dynamic is different, the activities are not created around what he wants to do, the day is usually already mapped out, and involves another adult and a dog, at least.
Today was such a day. My fiance and I picked D up from his dad’s and headed to my mom’s so he could put in a couple of her storm windows. It was just shy of 70 and sunny today, unseasonably warm and beautiful, but not completely unusual for a Cleveland October, which can be one of the most gorgeous months of the year, if things go right. And that’s the way they’ve been going. A dapple of rain here, a chilly but cozy night there, and many sunny, beautiful, crisp days to take in the stunning fall leaves as they change, leaving their wonderful-smelling deadness all over the ground. I’ve been feeling grateful that this has been such a beautiful fall.
At my mom’s, the kid was disconnected, and my mom really wanted to see and spend time with him, which isn’t always the case, so it was tough to bridge the chasm. We had a nice lunch, as she was feeling good enough to cook, and it was delicious. I was so lucky to grow up with a mom who could spin wonderful meals out of almost nothing. She taught me so much about food and cooking and stretching a dollar to feed a family. I was brought up watching Julia Child and many other cooking shows with her, and though I rejected deep cooking in favor of easy, processed and fast in my early 20s, I came back to it in time. I am an avid home cook and owe it all to her tutelage, me standing next to her on a stepstool as she’d show me how to gently pull the eggs in with a spatula to scramble them, or holding the bowl while she hand-ground beef roast for ground beef because she didn’t trust the grocery store beef, which was “re-ground” and full of fillers that we didn’t want to eat. She’d make hash out of leftovers, made homemade bread and big bowls of homemade yogurt weekly, made homemade spaghetti sauce because the jarred stuff was full of sugar, and taught me the talent of taking what was on hand and making it come together somehow into a meal, even if it was only hard boiled eggs in white sauce over toast. I know mom wanted us to stay longer, but sometimes we can, sometimes we have to keep moving.
When we came home, the kid wanted to reconnect with me, and (sort of ) helped me peel apples for applesauce. I told him how I made it, so he can make it some day himself, like I always do. I discovered my blender is broken, and I couldn’t blend it to make it smooth how he likes it, only chunky as done with the hand-masher. He insisted on having a bowl of it anyway and said it was great, claiming not to care if it was chunky or not, and saying it was great. He wasn’t doing it to be polite. He’s simply changed, and smooth applesauce is no longer important, which is good. He also snapped at me a few times when we were working together, and I calmly docked 5 minutes from his allotted TV time each time he did it, and admonished him about trying to position others as responsible for your actions, mood or both. You’re in charge of your own emotions, or need to get there. It’s nobody’s fault but yours if you get upset with things.
Then he wanted distance again, so I went to Target, where I got a new blender and a couple of other things I needed. I cook a lot, as I said, and I need working appliances. I made dinner haphazardly – my leg was starting to hurt and there’s only so much I can do in one day, and so I rested it while we ate and relaxed.
But then, suddenly, he asked the Alexa what time sunset was. All summer, when he was with me, we would go outside at sunset on clear nights and go to the top of the nearby big hill, with my dog and my partner, and the kid and I would throw a ball back and forth. He’d run up and down the hill fetching it after bad throws. Geese or deer might show up, or mosquitos, and when it finally got too dark to see and my leg was screaming, we’d go in. We haven’t been out in a while as it’s getting dark so much earlier, and has been cold, and nobody has been in the mood.
Sunset was in 10 minutes, turns out. He begged me to go outside. “Hurry up, Mom, come on!” My back really hurt, and my ankle is killing me, and I got dressed to go out and that’s what we did, because he will not always want me to do this, and so I must press on.
The ball we throw having gone missing, we went over by the tennis courts to see if someone had left one nearby, but there were none. He ran past the smaller kids playing on the playground and to the other tennis courts, and I galumphed along, eventually catching up with him, but there were no tennis balls, which was fine. Then he rolled and rolled down hill after hill, laughing at how dizzy he got, getting up and doing it again. I snapped the picture in this post, wishing I could capture the moment forever, that time window where he wants to be with me, and only me, and thinks I’m the best company.
He did a somersault on the carpet later, after we had come inside and gotten cleaned up, and acted like it was new. I told him he did that in a performance for preschool many years ago, and he insisted it wasn’t true, as he had no memory of it. But I have the video, you see, which he has never seen. I put the DVD in and we watched tiny little D, standing in line waiting for his turn to “tumble” as a toddler, waving and waving at his parents, smiling, coy and making dramatic gestures of being too tired after doing his part in the show, falling down on the ground and then looking at me, checking to see if I laughed.
Which I did. Loudly, as I do. You could hear it on the old video. He loves making me laugh.
The angle of the video was exclusively of him and his part. I was only in the background, which is my role, as his mom. But he kept checking and checking to see if I was there, if I was watching.
I’ll watch as long as he lets me.