And then I got sick.

I woke up this morning really pretty miserable with a cold, so I declared a sick day.

One of the beautiful things about being self-employed (though, strictly speaking, since I haven’t made a dime since November 17, I’m currently self-unemployed. Not that I’m counting) is that you don’t even have to call anyone. You just get under a blanket with a book, et voila! Sick day!

This one turned out to be a particularly nice one, though. It’s Winter Break for the girl and boy, but the girl was at her grandmother’s, the boy home with me. He and I sat on our massive sectional couch (never mock a sectional. NEVER. That thing is like the beating heart of our family. I love it more than I love our house), he under the blue blanket, me under the green, and we read. And occasionally chatted. I ordered him a pizza and me a sandwich; we ate lunch, reading and occasionally chatting. I picked up a little around the house (creating that very necessary I-wasn’t-a-complete-loser-today feeling), he was on his laptop some (yes, my 11 year old has his own laptop. Don’t you judge me!), he got me water when I asked him to, and brought my coffee cup back to the kitchen, and at one point looked at from his book and/or computer, smiled at me and said “This is fun!”

If I’ve ever heard more beautiful words, I don’t know what they might have been.

As the afternoon wore on, he asked to go to a friend’s house but said he wanted to be back in time to watch a movie with me before the husband/dad brought his sister home, so he did and we did. And then I discovered huge holes in the bottoms of his socks, so we ripped them to pieces while they were still on his feet. And he ran giggling to his dad in the kitchen: “Dad! Check out my new leg-warmers!”

I am crazy about my family. We have so much fun together, all four of us together as well as in our various duos and trios, and I can’t believe how lucky I am. Our plans for New Year’s Eve involve the four of us going out together, and I have to admit, I kind of feel like, well, why on earth would I plan a celebration without the kids? What fun would that be?

And yet, these days will pass. I mean, I know — I think I know — that we’ll always have fun together. Sure, there are bound to be a few rough years (starting any minute now, frankly), but I think we enjoy each other so genuinely that that fun will always carry through. If there are rough years, it’ll wait for us on the other side.

But it will be different. There will boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives, and there will greater distance, more push, more pull. Our time will grow increasingly limited, and it will increasingly involve additional people. Our foursome — our magical, miraculous foursome, the unit that laughs itself silly over dinner, singing songs and telling jokes, the unit that can travel the world and have fun even in the face of travel disaster — our foursome will become something else.

And for a little while today, that knowledge made me sad.

But then I remembered, as my generous, kind-spirited pre-teen brought my cup to the kitchen, that he had once been a different boy, several different boys, all boys I didn’t want to lose. All boys I loved and wanted to hold on to (even during a couple of pretty rough toddler years) and never let go of.

But now he is this boy, and I suddenly realized, as he settled back in: I don’t know what boys, what men my son will become — but they will be awesome. It will be something different, something wonderful in its own way, something that I cannot see now, but which will be delightful, because they will be him.

Same-same, it goes without saying, for the girl.

So I guess we’ll be ok. I suppose the years of our spending New Year’s Eve together may be numbered, but whatever child I lose each time a birthday rolls around, so far, the child I have gained has been a new kind of terrific — each age with its blessings and its curses, each an adventure and a joy. Even the bad times. It’ll be ok.

If only all my sick days could be this good.

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7 Comments

  1. This is a lovely post, ee. It is, indeed, a blessing to have a family that works so well together. Treasure every moment. And, I hope you feel better soon.

  2. JHarper2

     /  December 22, 2010

    Well bless you and your family. And bless the years ahead. And the people the son and daughter will become, and the people you and husband will become.

    And remember always this day and hold it precious.

  3. Wendy

     /  December 22, 2010

    You’re so right about how it stays delightful. I was laughing with my son last night, having a moment I think very similar to the one you’re describing, and I realized — he’ll be fifteen in ten days. How did that happen? And yes, 15 is different than 11 and different than 6 and different than 2 and I miss all of those boys. But he’s still the same person and I still really enjoy his company. (And you might be surprised about those rough years. I still have time, obviously–he might turn into a terrible sixteen or seventeen or eighteen year old–but I think being in the habit of having fun with your kids goes a long way to making the teenage years something more bearable. In our case, there seemed to be about two rough weeks around 13 and then he was back.)

  4. BJonthegrid

     /  December 22, 2010

    I’ve lived this day, except with two boys and a beagle. You were so smart to write it down. These are the moments when your child’s worth is so apparent. Somedays I marvel that part of me is in them….they are so spectacular,so I can’t be all bad.

    My eleven year old and eight year old will be getting their own net books in 3 days. But so far, no cell phones.

  5. CollegeBookworm

     /  December 22, 2010

    The foursome will last, Emily. Even though it’ll change, it will last. I’m 21 now, my younger brother is 19, and we’ve added a three year old boxer to the mix since I started college. Neither of us lives at home full time anymore. But tonight I’m going out to dinner with my parents and my brother and we’re seeing a show at a local regional theatre that I will love more than anyone else in the family because it’s sketch comedy on women in politics in DC, and I’m the family feminist. We still have our foursome, and we love going to the beach together, going out to dinner, watching Glee, whatever. It changed- my brother has a busier social life than any of us, I spend more time away than ever, but it’s still here.

    • I often think of the story of your dad making you french toast when you’re home on Shabbat. I honestly think that it’s part of the vision I have that my foursome will maintain its foursome-ness!

      • CollegeBookworm

         /  December 22, 2010

        That’s shifted a little though, because at this point he admits that I’m better at it than he is, and he asks me to make him breakfast!