One thing I love about this time of year is the toys. Both of my kids have all sorts of new things from Christmas to play with. This past weekend I reorganized the toy storage to showcase the new additions and retire some of what has become outgrown or underused. Some of the retirees are stored away so they can be retrieved in several months…allowing enough time for their absence to give them new life. Others are given away, or sadly, tossed.
But the new toys give more joy and play to our dark and cold winter days. The new toys are inspiring my boys in their absorbing, albeit strange, pursuits: dissecting a plastic human body for Andrew, and copying page by page, a new book with new markers for Isaac. Robotic bugs walk across my floors (as though we need more bugs around here), and new decks of cards are organized by color and kind and lined up along the couch cushions. Meanwhile the TV sits dark and quiet in its corner.
And the beauty of this? The thing that I love about the new toys? The boys are absorbed and engaged. They are quiet yet busy. Leaving me to do things I need to do. The things that are ultimately also about them: cooking their dinner and folding their socks.
Seems strange to invest in and celebrate in the things that they can play with… just so I can get their hot and healthy dinners on the table at a reasonable time. And yet, I do. It’s infinitely better than feeling strained and rattled with the same goal in mind.
As much as I try (and I do!) to not let my life be entirely about my boys, there are plenty of times that I catch myself caught in the layers of care I pour into them. But those layers of care don’t necessarily feel suffocating. More often they feel warm and supportive and grounding. Like good work. Good, happy, exhausting work.
And then there are times I can care for them and care for myself at the same time. I packed these soft pretzels in their lunchboxes today with sides of mustard in lieu of a sandwich. (Don’t worry…there were clementines, sausages and grape tomatoes to round things out.) And making the pretzels was a treat for me…time to play in my kitchen and make something interesting…while the pretzels were, obviously, also a treat for them. I love it when caring for them feels creative and refreshing. Win, win all around.