I'm looking out of the kitchen window. It's Sunday afternoon and the first signs of Spring are materializing. The grass is now only half-covered in snow and the air still holds a snap of cold but also now enough warmth to be outside for hours at a time. The boys' boots are drenched in mud but they don't care because it's just lovely to be outside, sliding and swinging and running around with all the buoyancy that childhood permits.
I stir the dinner and pour two glasses of rum and pineapple with wedges of lime, because that's what summer tastes like and I'm impatient for summer to come quickly now.
It's these moments of unblemished contentment that I'm learning to let myself into. The longer I'm a parent the more I realize that it's necessary to let myself into these moments - really let myself into them, because they're the ones I'll remember when I'm looking back on this in ten years.
Any given day in our house is filled with countless ups and downs and expecting it to be any other way would be nothing short of madness. The trick - I'm finding - is to enjoy the moments that are about happiness and let go of the ones that are about frustration. Easier said than done, though.
These days are a tangle of goods and bads, smiles and tears, thrills and disappointments, logics and crazies, grins and grimaces, kisses and punches, acceptances and rejections. It's all part of the complicated tapestry of family life.
And I have my ups and downs, too: I love dinner time, sitting around the table with my family while everyone tucks into their food and chats about the day; cleaning up the dishes, not so much. I feel relieved and calm when my house is clean; I hate the cleaning part. Reading bedtime stories to my kids is one of my favourite parts of the day; brushing teeth beforehand is almost always a struggle. I'm proud of my son as he rushes into his preschool classroom to get right on with playing in the sand; getting there on time in the morning isn't always a breeze.
Life's like that.
But when I let myself into the good moments, the not-so-good ones are more workable.
I imagine the good moments to be like a piece of red thread. It weaves through the tapestry strong and thick, locking the whole thing together as one. It rides over the bumpy pieces and comes through the other side in tact. It's subtle enough to blend in but bold enough to still be recognized among the other threads if you look hard enough.
The red thread is always there, winding its way through time, stringing together a pattern of memories. It's watching my sons playing outside in the mud. It's the surprising and hilarious conversations. It's seeing them become more confident in the water, on their bikes, on ice skates. It's looking into their eyes when they're describing something. It's the moment when my husband and I close their bedroom doors in the evening and pour each other a glass of wine.