Ryan and I spent two nights away a few weekends ago – without the boys. We had not done that in two years, and even then, I was 7 months pregnant, so technically we were not alone. We were giddy like school girls (to steal a saying from Ryan), so giddy that we got lost on interstate 77 for at least an hour (that’s what we are willing to admit.) We were headed for Ohio and almost made it to SC. In our defense, we were talking and laughing and relishing in the fact that no one was seated behind us in the minivan.
One thing that we discussed was how calm and at ease we were with each other, so calm we never paid attention to which direction we needed to go when we left the gas station. We were together for nine years before we ever had children – so we had a lot of time alone, and I know we never stopped to appreciate it. Nor could we have.
When I see couples who are about to have a baby, I want to say, “Go out, spend time alone with each other. It will be years before you will have a week alone.” But you can’t do it – people would look at you very strange.
We never appreciated the time we had alone, or the easiness of living with two incomes and very little stressors. We never understood the importance of it then. But we could not. We had not lived with three busy boys and the rest of life’s challenges.
Perspective is a funny thing and it affects so many aspects of our lives. I am not sure we comprehend the importance it has in our short and long term visibility.
You can’t teach perspective.
When I was about 25, I remember my Dad telling me that when he was my age, he knew nothing. “I was just a child” may have been his exact words. I think about that comment often – for some reason it has stuck with me. At 38, almost 39, I know so much more about myself and I could impart my wisdom on many others, but isn’t that what life is for – to love and learn, to make mistakes, to hurt, to enjoy – and then look back at it all, realize that you survived and hope that you can use everything that has become a part of you to go ahead in your life. Perhaps my Dad was trying to impart his wisdom on me in that one line, and did it simply by telling me that even he still had a lot to learn.
Perspective can be a wonderful thing.
When Ben was 8 months old and we had just found out about his delays, we also found out that he needed one of those helmets, because his head was flat from not being able to hold his little head up. We were horrified, devastated and distraught. I could not believe that my little baby would have to wear one of those things. He actually had to get two, so he wore it for 7 months. Now, I cannot even remember that he wore one until I see a photo and comment on how cute he looked.
Being reminded of the past can change your perspective.
I jot down things the kids do and say whenever I think about it. I may write down “Summer 2009” and then list what each son has done that is memorable. Like when Logan stopped calling Ben, “Nen” and started calling him “Ben.” Or when Sean said his first word, “beep-beep.” Or when Ben sat up for the first time at over 3 years old. That was only three years ago! When I read those notes and count the years on my fingers again and again to make sure I am correct in my math – I am amazed. Look at how far he has come – he uses a walker to get anywhere he wants, he gets himself to the dining room table and waits patiently in the chair for someone to bring him something to eat.
When I get down on Ben’s progress, which is not often because if you know me, that’s not my personality, I simply look back at photos, video or notes to see what this kid has accomplished. He works hard and has the determination and the will of several people.
Ben will change anyone’s perspective.