Saturday, March 24, 2012

Savoring A Pause in Our Busy Days

This is a photo I swiped off the web of Main Street Bagel in downtown Flemington, New Jersey, where I spent a couple of hours this morning with L, our 12-year-old son. We sat at the farthest right table in this photo, next to an older couple. We ate homemade bagels,  I sipped coffee, and we both enjoyed some rare down time.

My husband and I have entered that phase of parenthood, or should I say our sons have entered that phase of their own lives, where down time is an anomaly.

This morning L. and I  were waiting for G., my 15 year old, to finish up a training ride with the cycling team he just joined. We were about 35 miles from home. My husband, a university administrator, had to work today. It was a lovely day and L. and I  chatted with the retired couple who sat at the next table. They told us about their daughter, the former police officer now deployed in Afghanistan, and about their daughter-in-law, the high school English teacher. I showed them a picture of G., doing cyclocross.

I did a little knitting on the baby blanket I am finishing up. L. used my MacBook to update our dog's facebook page with sports teams with dog mascots that she could "like"  (Georgetown, Georgia and UConn).

He complained about being bored. I thought that was wonderful; that he had time to feel bored.

My husband and I long resisted scheduling our sons for structured activities; in fact we sent them to a private school for five years that was the closest thing to unstructured homeschooling we could find - no grades, no tests, and lots of time outdoors.

And we are now in another chapter of our parenting lives. Our boys are in middle and high school and we have become one of those families I used to hear about and shake my head. Parents with minivans and schedules. Our boys do many many activities. They truly enjoy them all.

For the not-so-little-anymore guy: trumpet lessons, travel soccer team, choir, middle school baseball, and goal-keeping training. Our teen's spring looks like this: high school jazz band,  Model Congress, race-cycling team, bass guitar lessons, upright bass lessons and regional chamber music orchestra.

Oh yeah, and they have school to go to and homework to do and then there is Mass and for L., confirmation classes.

I never knew parenting involved so much driving, so much sitting in the car, so much scheduling, so much activity.

On the drive home, the three of us passed Northlandz, a very strange place that is a combo doll museum/ "art" gallery/ miniature train museum. I had taken the boys to when they were little. We started laughing about that day trip.

Then the boys talking about the little day adventures I had taken them on  when they were little and had no outside "activities:" zoos, art museums, playgrounds, hikes, roller  rinks, beaches, boardwalks, church carnivals, science museums and on and on. We talked about how my husband and I had a super-tight budget then and the boys remarked how I had always figured out fun free things to do and places to visit nonetheless.

It reassured me to realize they remember all the time we have spent adventuring together. And as we headed back home, I felt moved, once again, to be able to witness what great young men they are becoming. And I thought about all the beautiful adventures that beckon them forward.


  1. This is a lovely little glimpse into your family's life. Such wonderful memories and much to be thankful for!

  2. Flemington! It has been many, many, many years since I was there! My grandparents lived there for a time, and we visited every-other-summer during my grade school years. By The time I was in HS, they had retired and fled the high taxes to join us in Louisiana. I vaguely remember visiting a doll museum, among other things. Thomas Edison's place, a train ride to/from Ringos, and Ringing Rocks in all-time favorite.

    When I listen to my boys talk about what they remember, i am often amazed at the ordinariness of the things that made an impression.