I always have the best intentions when it comes to having family outings. This weekend was no exception. I decided it would be great fun to take the kids to the State Fair of Texas. As it usually happens, somewhere between the planning and the execution I realize that it is actually difficult to find an activity that all three kids will enjoy, seeing as they range in age from 7 to 15.
I assumed the Fair would be perfect. Great rides and exhibits for both kids and teens.
As soon as we walked in, we landed at the barnyard petting area. The teens practically threw themselves on the ground in a fit at having to go pet stinky animals. My 7-year-old daughter was clapping with glee. Glancing at my husband, I remembered why family activities can be challenging.
I promised the boys that after this we would eat our way through the Fair and go check out the cool cars in the auto exhibit. That seems to stop the eye-rolling and twitching. I took Gabriella into the barnyard while my husband and the boys “people watched” and waited until we emerged from the barnyard chaos.
Something happened, though, while we were at the Fair.
I saw my kids begin to interact and make their own fun – with each other. My daughter rode on my oldest son’s shoulders in order to not feel lost in the crowd. They spun and ran and had a blast just being brother and sister. When she was walking, she would take my younger teen son’s hand and race off to check out the next booth or exhibit. I watched in amazement to see that my children were enjoying being together. They were taking care of each other and having fun.
At one point, the three of them decided to ride a roller coaster together. As my husband and I stood on the sidelines watching them talk and laugh in line and then scream and squeal (my daughter did most of the squealing) while on the ride, he put his arm around me. We smiled at these amazing children we are raising.
I whispered to him, “It’s almost like we are on a date. For about 20 minutes.” But in those twenty minutes we felt a strong and happy bond. We felt proud of our children. We felt the love of husband and wife. I suppose the best word to describe the moment was contentment.
It made me realize that throughout all of the chaos, the craziness, the arguments, the work and the struggles, we are a happy family. Our children do enjoy each other. And? Together, we have made a family. An honest to goodness family that enjoys being together.
I always dreamed of my family. I dreamed of being a mom and having a wonderful husband as a father to my children. I dreamed of being a part of a team that heads up that family. It seems somehow I blinked, and now I realize I have my dreams right in front of me.
In the midst of raising children and trying to focus on each one as an individual with their own strengths and weaknesses, it is easy to forget that not only are each one of us separate people, we are a family. A unit of one.
And we are blessed.