Week in My Life 2017: Tuesday

I’m blogging every day this week to share a glimpse into our daily lives.

You can read Monday’s post here, Wednesday’s hereThursday’s here, Friday’s hereSaturday’s here, and Sunday’s here.

A stuffed cow and his owner crawl into my bed to wake me up, and I realize the morning is already getting away from us. I’m driving the boys to school, and I am looking forward to my glimpse at second grade. It’s American Education Week, and the school has open houses throughout the week.

So off we go. The second grade classroom is packed with parents, but I pull a stool up next to Daniel’s desk and we listen to the announcements.

“When we say a kind word to someone, it’s like that first domino that bumps the others,” a child’s voice says over the intercom. What a fascinating way to view kindness. Then I hear that the yo-yo was originally a weapon used in hunting.

How can I be learning so much in my first 2 minutes in the classroom?

Then I sit and watch our second grader in student mode. Everything he does fascinates me, as he works on his computer and interacts with the little girl who sits next to him. She’s attentive and helpful and sweet. No wonder he talks about her at home.

I realize he is writing with a pencil that indicates he won the Clean Desk Award. I’m astonished that his desk is so organized, especially since so often he forgets to bring home the right notebook.

I can’t stay all morning, though the other parents seem to be able to, so I have to tell him I’m leaving. He’s upset with me and tells me so. But I have had a nice visit with him, and I know he’ll be fine.

“I have to go,” I say apologetically to his teacher. “I’m sorry.”

“You have a job,” she says matter-of-factly and with a smile. I’m thankful she is Daniel’s teacher.

As I walk out, I look back at Daniel and he is giving me his mad face. When I arrive at work, I stop to chat with a colleague who has been to visit her son’s 8th grade class. I tell her about Daniel and how upset he was when I left.

“I miss those days,” she says. “Now I’m the only parent who comes, and he doesn’t care whether I’m there.”

I realize that just yesterday I experienced a taste of that with our fourth grader, who was pleased I was there, but didn’t show it outwardly. And I feel grateful for all of it.

My work day is full and busy and productive, and halfway through the day I receive an email saying I have a package. I had a call yesterday about this package, but I forgot about it. I rarely receive packages at work, and I can’t imagine that it’s something interesting. But when I go to get it, it’s an enormous box, and it’s from my former colleague who took a new job in May.

It’s such a surprise that I almost don’t want to open it. What could it possibly be?

I carry it to my office, and a few of my coworkers gather to help me unwrap it. And…it’s magnificent. Truly. It’s one of the most thoughtful gifts I can imagine. He and his wife somehow tracked down the patent for a 1900 fly swatter. I collect fly swatters, as he knows, but I am very hard to wow on the fly swatter front. (The picture doesn’t do it justice at all. It’s a phenomenal gift.)

They have also sent a note that I know my friend put a tremendous amount of thought into, telling me that he and his wife have been praying for me and my family. I’m so touched by this incredibly thoughtful gesture, especially when it came at such an unexpected moment.

I wrap up my work day and head off to an office happy hour. I’m not much of a happy hour person, and all I do is drink iced tea when I go, but I do enjoy the camaraderie, and I see people I don’t see often. I fall into conversation with a professor who also has two sons, one in his late 20s and one in his early 30s. He reminds me to enjoy every stage with my children and consider the present stage the best one.

This is exactly the kind of message I need. I want to hold onto each and every day, but I don’t want to be wistful for the past. I have loved, loved, loved every stage with our children, and at every stage John and I have talked about freezing everything right as it is right now.

As I’m leaving to head home, John calls. He puts the boys on the phone and they each tell me what they bought at the book fair today. John and I haven’t eaten dinner, so I stop to pick up a sandwich for each of us and soup for the boys because no day can pass without a bowl of chicken noodle soup—and we didn’t have any for breakfast.

At the checkout, I’m surprised when one of the store employees asks, “Why so much chicken noodle soup?”

“My sons just love chicken noodle soup,” I say, because there really is no other answer.

“Oh, I thought someone might be sick,” she says.

We chat briefly, and then I’m off, hurrying home to my husband and sons, wondering whether I should have gone to the happy hour or just spent the evening at home with my family. I enjoyed the happy hour, but I am never sure how well I’m balancing it all. Still, I’m not going to figure that out tonight, and soon enough I’m home and we’re eating a late dinner and catching up on our days.

After trumpet practice, baths, and books, we stop to pray. “We forgot to say what we’re thankful for!” Leo says. So we do. Then lights are out, and the boys fall asleep quickly, listening to music I’ve been playing for them at bedtime. Then I just need to make noodles to pack in tomorrow’s lunch because I have a parent-teacher conference early tomorrow morning.

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Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner is a wife, working mother and author of the Catholic Review's Open Window blog. She and her husband adopted their two sons from China, and Rita often writes about topics concerning adoption, family and faith.

Rita also writes The Domestic Church, a featured column in the Catholic Review. Her writing has been honored by the Catholic Press Association, the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association and the Associated Church Press.