Sometimes everything falls into place and I am exactly the kind of mom I want to be. The kind of mom I imagined I’d be before reality and everyday life slammed into my dreams, knocking the wind out of their beautifully painted sails. The kind of mom my heart still longs to be…
This week it happened while I made my husband install a new mailbox in front of our house. We had a… broke-down un-palace of a mailbox. The neighbors all had the fancy-pants Rubbermaid mailboxes. We stuck out like a sore thumb. So we broke down and became, as my dad said, Suburbanites. Our mailbox matches. But that wasn’t what made me a good mom.
The boys discovered the box the mailbox came in and, in short order, tossed it over their heads, pretending to be robots.
In an instant, I had a flash of painting the robot. Me, the un-crafter. The anti-crafter. I had a vision of sitting with my boys in the yard and painting up the robot with brightly colored paints. I mentioned it to them. “Maybe if we have a good day tomorrow, we can paint that robot after dinner.” They were excited. I was excited.
The day was good. After dinner, I actually remembered where our poster paint was stored even after the move. I quickly found seven of our eight big paint brushes. The weather was playing along nicely — not too hot, a cool breeze. I asked the boys to stay inside as I set everything up, humming along as I lined up tubes of paint next to the box, balancing one brush per color precariously on top of each tube. I’m sure I looked a sight to the neighbors, most of whom fall in the gap between my parents’ and my grandparents’ ages. I think they’ve accepted our “young” family’s quirks and oddities, but I’m sure they stand at the window and think, “What’s she up to now?”
The boys came rushing out, no longer able to control their excitement as they stood at the living room window, watching me get things together for them. I showed them the paint, pointed to the blank canvas of our tall robot and let them have at it. They started to argue over the same color, almost immediately. Somewhere I found my calm voice and pointed out that there were seven colors; surely they could find one of their own, use it for awhile, and switch off.
And a hush came over the yard as the three of us sat and started painting.
Briefly, of course. Our oldest son has a tendency to talk — non-stop, to make absolutely everything a lengthy discussion. What kind of paint is this? What happens if the temperature gauge you are painting over there, Mommy, would get too high? Would it explode? Or just catch on fire? Do we really need another triangle button? I know, let’s paint another gauge down here and make that one be the explosion gauge. And on and on and on. Our younger son, mostly wanted whatever paint brush and color I was using, awed by my “artistic ability.” Mainly I just made geometric designs and painted corners and had a blast. I handed over my brush a billion and one times, patiently, accepting whatever brush he had been painting something equally awesome at his place along our robot.
Our fun began to wind down right as a big gust of wind came along. I looked up, surprised to see that the sky had gotten darker. We had been so in the moment, enjoying the time so completely, that we missed the weather turning. We’re a little weather-gun-shy right now, so we began running around the yard and cleaning up. LittleBrother managed to collect all of the paint brushes while BigBrother helped me screw the lids on the poster paint and put them in the box. No arguing. No fussing. No yelling by me. Soon we were all safely in the garage, setting our robot down to dry.
The next day, their excitement could hardly be contained, bubbling over as they told their Daddy about their robot. I smiled into my cup of coffee, feeling as if I had accomplished something magical, something beautiful. I had made one perfect little memory.
We made a robot.
He is already ripped and torn and beyond well-loved, less than a week later. But he remains an accomplishment of mine. A moment in time that I will cling to when they don’t want to hang out and paint in the front yard with me anymore.
I will always love that robot.