Raising the Hardy Boys: The present that lasts
By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register
Well in advance of Mother’s Day, my boys asked me what I’d like from them this year.
“A clean house,” I told them. I know it would only last for a moment, but what a blissful moment it would be.
I got the slow blink from both of them. Then Jake, my 6-year-old, said, “We were thinking earrings.”
His 8-year-old brother, Sam, quickly followed, “Yeah, not like a special hug or cleaning our rooms, but more like something at Target.”
Because their whispering skills are not yet well developed, I heard most of their plotting and planning from the other room. What I couldn’t quite put into words at the time, and perhaps never will adequately be able to express, is this: They are the gift. With all the dirt, the mess, the opportunities to practice patience and grace, in all of that is the gift ready to be opened at any given moment I can recognize it.
In the hustle of “Get in the truck!” it’s easy to miss those moments. When Sam gets out by climbing up into the bed, clambering around the edge and jumping out the back, it’s tempting to say, as I did this morning: “Why can’t you just climb out of the truck like a normal person!”
He laughed and said, “Because I’m not normal, I’m a ninja.” That’s the gift.
When I served the boys dinner after a long day, after not making it to the grocery store again, Jake said, “Mom! You forgot the buns!”
“Budget cuts,” I said. We all laughed as we ate our simple dinner, and it was just fine.
That moment was precious. And it wouldn’t fit in a box.
When my mom asks where Jake was going, after perusing his “costume” in a picture I posted, I said it wasn’t actually a costume. It was just another of his carefully assembled outfits, which, on the outside at least, look less intentional.
I can assure you, his drawers are organized by color. He is very, very specific about matching his gloves to his pants and making sure the texture is right on all of the elements.
What was the occasion? Oh, just, you know, Tuesday.
The long soccer socks, the kind that go up to his thigh, were his work-around for managing the gaping holes in his favorite red velour pants.
These pants feature a velvet ribbon I once suggested he hide by untucking his shirt. That prompted him to look at me incredulously and say, “But I want the bow to show!”
Having front row seats to two people who are unique individuals in a world that tries to make us all the same, there’s no bow big enough for that.
In my day, I was the kid on the sidelines, hoping nobody noticed me, and yet longing to be noticed at the same time. Not these two.
When a Justin Bieber song comes on the radio, Sam says, “Mom, I don’t think he really means, ‘Go love yourself.’ I think that’s like when you say, ‘Good for you.’ Right? What’s that called again?”
I loved him even more in that moment. Then I remembered, maybe it’s too soon for him to be picking stuff like that up. But here we are, and I treasured the moment all the same. It would become a memory, a gift.
When I see something of mine shattered on the floor, and demand one of them tell me right this second how it broke, and they say, in unison, “gravity,” the funny trumps the frustrating. That’s a gift.
There’s a Nichole Nordeman music video called “Slow Down” that’s making the rounds on the Internet. It speaks to every parent who has ever wished time would slow down as their babies grow into toddlers and then transform into children, teenagers and, finally, adults.
Every person I’ve seen post a link to it has mentioned they “ugly cried” or “snot cried.” It’s a way of saying, “Your mascara will run. Get some tissue.” So I was prepared.
But I didn’t cry. FYI, I tear up just thinking about you tearing up, so I was expecting a nice, cathartic cry.
The music is beautiful, the lyrics are lovely and the images moving. Many of you will cry, in that bittersweet hurts-so-good kind of way. For me, and maybe a few of you, though, the video didn’t reflect reality at all.
While aspects of my life have never been harder — the whole working full time and being a single parent thing, for instance — it has never been sweeter overall.
These are the moments. These are the times with my boys that I will cherish most.
I’ll take the gift of watching them grow into themselves and being able to play a supporting role in that over a clean house any day. Stop by, you’ll see how true that is.
When the video of their childhood plays back in my mind, it’s the collection of moments happening right now I think will bring me to tears, and to my knees in gratitude for the gift of having had them.
I think about them already being so thoughtful and intentional about doing something special for me and it hits me how they can’t possibly know there is no gift that matches that.
But yeah, I will cherish the earrings, or whatever else they find at Target. Because when they’re off and gone doing their thing in the world, I’ll have something to hold in my hand as I remember the echoes of these days.
And now, friends, there’s something in my eyes.
P.S. If you're a Paul Harvey, rest of the story kind of person here's some background info on how this column got done, late but done!
Hardy writes in the margins of her life raising two boys who understand deadlines come before dusting and juggling a fulltime job working with some pretty awesome young people and occasionally calls washing down a fistful of Swedish fish with Red Bull a complete meal.