The Elephant in the Family Room

I am reveling in the afterglow of a perfectly lovely downtown birthday getaway with my sweetheart.

It sure was nice to kiss the boys, leave them with a sitter, and dash away to a) our favorite delectable urban bistro, b) the art house cinema for a British comedy, and c) a quiet hotel room.

I’m savoring the memory of the cinnamon French toast topped with berries, whipped cream, and honey-laced syrup I had for breakfast, as well as the bit ‘o shopping I indulged in before we caught a haunting foreign film set in post-war Germany.

It was perfect. Thank you, Jeff, for having a birthday!

In the twenty-four hours I spent away from my home and four little bear cubs, I experienced enough of a respite that I was able to use the physical and emotional distance from my mom-life to think a few clear thoughts about parenting.

Among other things, I decided to reinstate my regular date nights with my eldest son and to look for opportunities to do fun, lighthearted things with my third son (the boy enigma who currently inspires a great deal of stress in my life).

Earth-shatteringly, I gave myself permission to remind myself and the world that three of my four children still are actually not potty-trained, two of those three are performing below the level of their peers, and the sum total of three boys who are behaviorally under the age of three makes daily life…interesting.

I decided to be honest about the facts and to stop brushing it aside like it makes no difference in how my family functions.

I suppose the whole three-of-my-kids-are-either-cognitively-emotionally-or-chronologically-toddlers thing is the elephant in the room around which I have been sweeping, cooking, moving laundry, supervising homework, and volunteering for school and church assignments.

Jeff and I spend a considerable amount of energy on making the facade of our family life appear fairly normal so that we may better blend with coworkers, neighborly interactions, family events, and church-attendance. A dear friend of mine recently suggested, via long-distance cell conversation, that this tendency is possibly working to our detriment.

She may be onto something. If we work really hard at appearing to be humming along swimmingly, people probably assume that things indeed are that way. I wish it were so, but in reality we struggle with lots of poop and social anxiety and communication delays and pants-wetting and just getting to church at all. My children may look big, but they are little at heart.

After our delightful escape to the city, I am rather inclined to approach the elephant in the room, affectionately pat her on her wrinkly rump, and introduce her to any visitors who come our way.

There she is folks: our elephant houseguest, surrounded by my big little boys.

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