Two grown men perform kung fu kicks in my kitchen as I stand at the stove in my Christmas apron sautéing tilapia, kale and red onion for their lunch. My sons are home for the holidays.
With one child on the east coast and one on the west, this time of year is golden for me as both return to home to the heartland where they grew up in the city in the middle of the prairie. They leave their lives in New York and San Francisco to make simple Midwestern memories with family and friends.
It has been a year since I last saw both of my children with their disheveled morning hair plod into my kitchen for a cup of coffee, and I could not be happier. I am hungry for being near them and it matters not whether we are talking about a recent romance or folding laundry. Just having them with me makes my heart glad.
The time always goes too quickly. So quickly, in fact, that I have taken to creating a written itinerary for all of us just to reduce the risk of my missing out. Christmas Eve with their father’s family, the day after Christmas with mine, and a balancing act of shared time in between.
As I watch them watch their phones for messages inviting other opportunities for holiday fun, I remind myself I am not the only one clamoring for time with them. My children have old friends to see, Facebook friends to meet, and holiday adventure to have with people other than me. Both have demanding careers, and I suspect they’d also like some time simply to reflect and rejuvenate from their busy lives without having to constantly be going and doing.
Benjamin and Jack are well into adulthood, yet I catch myself continuing to watch of the calendar and the clock as though I were a divorced mother who just reviewed the paragraph reciting the Christmas schedule in her parenting plan.
Ben was a tiny newborn when my father died on Christmas Day. My mother never remarried and she went on to have twenty-seven more Christmases without my father until she, too, died on a bitter cold day in late December. This year, as I miss my own mother, I remember her Christmas wish. “All I want for Christmas is time with my children.”
Though divorce demands that we share our children’s time, we are best served by savoring the time we have when we are with them. My Christmas wish this year is that I honor my mother’s wish, remembering to keep myself as present to each precious conversation, smile, and kung fu kick as I can.
Happy holidays to you and yours.