We barely slept the night before. Even Gramma jumped out of bed and was ready to head for the airport at 5:15am.
It was FINALLY happening! Aaron was coming home from Australia after two weeks away!
As you can see from the picture here, we missed him A LOT, while we were extremely busy with birthday parties, getaways, and work.
And we had big plans for his first day home:
The Couch + His Favorite Foods + Snuggles
+ Our Most Recent Favorite Epic Series
Well, it didn’t go quite as we planned, but it went exactly the way it needed to for The Wind to make sure that this mommy knows there’s no time like the present to practice what seems to come so naturally for her son.
We expected he’d have some serious jetlag, and were happy to see him fall asleep on the couch. But I think it’s safe to say that as the hours passed, we all tiptoed over to the living room and wished he’d just magically awaken…several times.
We had soooooo many questions!
– How was the trip?
– What was your favorite part?
– What new things did you eat?
– What animals did you hold and pet?
– What was the Great Barrier Reef like?
– How about the Opera House and Parliament?
– How was the roommate situation?
– Did you make friends for life?
When he woke up, in true 12-year-old form, he clicked on his favorite video game YouTube series and checked his phone for messages from his new pals.
We tried to act cool, which meant that we didn’t run and resisted the impulse to tackle him.
“Hey Buddy. You hungry? I have some of your favorite foods. Dad can cue up the show.”
He smiled so sweetly before saying something that, all at once, made my mommy heart expand with pride and shrink with a bit of sadness:
“You guys…I love you…and I missed you…and I really want to hang out with you…but…”
he searched for the right words,
“I just finished two weeks with 40+ people around me all the time.
It was awesome, and I loved almost every minute of it, but I didn’t get ANY time to myself.
I’d like to just hang out by myself for a little while,
maybe even sleep a little more, before we start our epic reunion.”
He looked up with his adorable “that’s cool with you guys, right?” expression.
“Of course, kiddo. I completely understand. Thank you for telling us what you need,” I kissed him on the forehead and left the room.
Of course I understand. That’s how I feel when I come home from a retreat. Part of me can’t wait to snuggle in and catch up with the fam, and the other part wants some time to be by myself and let everything integrate before going back to my normal routine. It’s just that it took me 7 years to learn how to say, “I love and can’t wait to hang out with you, but I need some time before I jump back in.”
While I prepped his lunch (because pre-teen boys never refuse food),
I recalled all of the times I’d re-entered my life soooooooooo poorly:
There were the years when I’d come home and verbally dump everything I’d learned/done with such intensity that it wasn’t long before my loved ones glanced around for the nearest exit. Of course, all they wanted was some snuggle time. They missed me, and they wanted to hang out with me—not the amped up woman who still obviously needed to process her experience.
When I realized that this approach was not working for me, the only logical thing to do was to go to the other extreme. (Right?)
I’d come home, ask them how they were doing, and jump right back into my routine. The problem with this approach was that by the end of the first day, I was usually completely frustrated and tapped out emotionally. I’d had no time to integrate all of my experience and learning, and my emotional absence was harder on my family than me just taking a little extra time.
This must be how they felt every time I came home all those years. Man, it’s hard. I missed him sooooooo much. I guess I can wait a little longer, especially since he asked for exactly what he needs: Space, Sleep, and Snuggles.
The last few days, I’ve been thinking about this a lot, especially when I’ve felt myself feeling depleted a little earlier than usual.
– Am I feeling depleted because I haven’t had enough alone time?
– Because I haven’t had enough sleep?
– Because I’m trying to get/give to snuggles without taking what I need first?
– Because I’m not asking for what I need as lovingly as Aaron did on Friday?
Turns out his approach is pretty darn effective: Space, Sleep, and Snuggles.
It’s becoming a mantra for me, and even a lens through which to see my family members and their moods a litlte more clearly.