If it wasn't for the scar on my finger, I wouldn't believe it myself.
Just a few short days ago, I was snorkeling in the Bahamas. The water was aquamarine, the temperature was balmy and the company, sublime. (The scar, if you're interested, is the result of an overly eager fish. I had fish food; he wanted it!)
For a few short days, I wasn't Jennifer Fink, Mom of Boys; I was Jennifer Fink, Freelance Writer. The boys stayed home with their dad while I joined dozens of other writers aboard the Carnival Imagination for a three-day writer's conference called Cruising for Profits.
And then, I came home. To sick kids (H1N1 has hit our home), cat poop and Internet issues. It was a bit of a transition, to say the least.
But this is what parenting is all about. These are the moments that create a life, that create bonds between parent and child, brother and sister. These moments -- making smoothies for sons who don't feel like eating or wetting washcloths to lay on hot little foreheads -- are more meaningful than anything I experienced on the cruise.
Don't get me wrong: I had a great time conga dancing on the Lido deck and would love, someday, to explore the Caribbean with my sons. Real life, though, isn't always real fun, and that's OK.
I hate watching my boys struggle with high fevers and -- let's be honest -- I hate getting up multiple times a night. I hate stumbling downstairs by feel alone and pouring Motrin by the light of the moon. I hate scratching event after event off my calendar, and I hate waiting and wondering if and when I'll get sick.
But the beauty of these moments is that they allow us to serve one another. In their sickness, my boys become vulnerable and they let me in, just a little more than usual. Those who are healthy express their concern for the sick, doing everything from filling water bottles to delivering pillows. At the end of the day, we realize that, despite our disagreements and bickering, we love each other. The last two days, both of my older boys have listed "family," as one of their Favorite Parts. Usually, they consider "family" the cause of all that's wrong in their worlds.
Stepping out of my life for a few days was absolutely wonderful. Stepping back in is pretty nice as well.