When my parents visit there are a multitude of reasons why I spend every moment with them for but for here, I will list two.
I like being with them. They are fun, loving people and when they visit (which thankfully is often) the house is filled with noise and laughter and singing – all delivered in a solid New Yawk accent. My mom is a treasure trove of musical theatre knowledge and she has a song for every occasion. She will belt it out and teach the girls the words and my whole childhood comes flooding over me as I remember growing up with a healthy dose of classic American musical theatre. I was reminded of where my love of musical theatre comes from. Sunday morning she was singing to the tune of Whatever Lola wants Lola gets, to “Whatever Katie wants. Katie gets. And little man. Katie, wants you!” My mom knows all of the words, and the play that it is from. (Damn Yankees) This is amazing to me.
When my mom and dad visit, my girls are treated to songs tailored to them, treats and tons of attention. Not a bad way to spend a weekend if you are six and eight – actually any age.
The other reason why I spend every moment with them is because I know what a handful my children – really any child - can be. With Cliff away for the weekend, I tell myself that I must be there for the daily administering of chores and scolding and just helping in the heavy lifting of two kids on a weekend afternoon. I keep telling myself, my folks are getting older, they can’t handle as much. Or whatever guilt bullshit guilt I slather on for the day.
For the first time in a while when they visited – I said to my parents, “You know what I need today. I need to escape to the library and write. I need to hear nothing. My only child ears are bleeding. And then I’m gonna go and buy the best electric pencil sharpener that I can find. Because every day, we waste time looking for a pencil that isn’t worn to the nub. And it drives me crazier than I already am. And then… I am going to J Crew. I will see you at dinner.”
And my amazing and generous parents said with ease – “Alright – bye bye!” My dad added, “We will take the girls for ice cream and then I’ll make Chicken Marsala with the girls for dinner.”
As I am getting dressed my mom is belting out from Annie get your Gun, “Got no diamonds. Got no pearls, still I think I’m a lucky girl! I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night.” And I was reminded – really thunderstruck - by how much I have and the good fortune to experience.
I am grateful that I can have a heartfelt conversation with my dad who listens to me and dispenses solid and gentle advice about a problem that I am having parenting Sophie. And time, precious, luxurious time to myself – the luxury to say to my parents, “Please, I need the afternoon off. I need to walk out of this house and know that everyone is good and happy.” They gave me the permission to just leave. I didn’t plan out their afternoon, pack lunches or get the girls dressed. I didn’t think about what to eat for dinner and then prepare.
I feel like I hit some sort of internal re-set button. Colors are brighter. I feel like I can think and breathe properly. My dad’s chicken marsala never tasted so good.
It really is so true. The job of being a parent never stops. I am forty-something. My parents are still helping me – they helped me so much today.