Our boxer looked at me and then at the couch. And then back at me. With a kid on each side, I sat on the crease between cushions and watched a strange episode of Amazing Stories. There was no room, so she whined, did a circle and sat at my legs on the floor.
We’d spent the day together shopping for the last few items for school, while everyone took turns keeping Kai from shoplifting. Most nights we’d need a break from each other. But, with the summer winding down, Kim and I decided we’d gather on the couch before we returned to a normal bedtime schedule.
Each year at this time, I look back with mixture of joy and regret.
The joy comes from the weeks we spent at the beach with grandparents. Some of the best times were visiting the little shops along the coast and watching the kids enjoy an ice cream or fill a bag full of salt water taffy. We’d return at night to the tent and stay up late telling stories until our ribs hurt from laughter. My in-laws purchased an RV, and invited us to stay with them while visiting various Washington coastal towns. The RV is good sized but gets cozy fast when the six of us arrive. Yet this is what brings us together and forges friendships. Our kids don’t want to leave.
But I also look back on the summer with some regret. I ask myself if I’ve completed enough projects around the house or provided Kim with enough breaks from her busy schedule. We intentionally refrained from signing the kids up for sports this summer and scaled back piano lessons so that we’d have more time to spend together. Although we stumbled at times, I feel it worked overall.
A couple of weeks ago we picked blueberries together. At one point it was so peaceful that I wondered if the kids had wandered off to another area of the farm. But they hadn’t. Each was busy picking or eating berries, too busy to converse or tease a sibling. It was one of those moments I wish I could catch in a bottle. I’d then replay it when the kids are at each other’s throats while saying, “See, I know you can get along!”
When the kids were in bed tonight, I came upstairs and sat on the couch while Kim played several George Winston songs. This gave me time to reflect on the summer. All the mosquito bites, sunburns and popsicles. Our nights together in the tent and trips to Dairy Queen for dip cones. So many memories packed into a 3-month period.
As Kim wound down her playing, our boxer approached the now kid-free couch. She didn’t look at me this time before jumping up to secure her spot. I was glad she joined me. But I missed my kids.
Even if it means sitting on the crease.