As I drove through the rambling countryside today as my toddler napped, this thought popped into my mind. My husband will probably laugh, because I’ve been lamenting the past couple days how it’s no longer as nice out, and he keeps pointing out it’s still only April.
Maybe it’s because I grew up in a small town, but I find driving grid roads and looking out at the countryside relaxing. It might also be because it’s a past-time we’ve done as a family for years, often looking for wildlife. Since my dad and I are both competitive, it was always a competition to see who would see the deer or coyote first.
I tried to time my day so that Cub would fall asleep when we left the city, and it worked out perfectly. Instead of taking the highway straight home, I took the “scenic route.” I drove past monster homes at Cathedral Bluffs and took in the amazing skies along with all the sloughs and fields peppered with geese and ducks.
It sounds cheesy, but I was so full of gratitude. We’d had such a lovely day, first having a play date with friends and then meeting another friend for lunch. It was wonderful to see both the women and little ones and eat cake on top of it. Cake!
And while driving, an article I’d recently read crossed my mind. A mom wrote how there are always two ways to see every situation, and pointed to a recent week of solo parenting and the exhaustion she felt when her toddler needed her in the middle of the night. She could either focus on her exhaustion and be frustrated, or she could look at it as a gift: it can be hard, but what a precious moment to cuddle your son in the middle of the night and feel him drift back to sleep. What a gift and how strong you feel being the one who is able to cuddle him back to slumber.
It seems so simple, but it’s how I was framing our country drive. I already love the drive anyway, but it made me realize I could look at it as a hassle, that my son fell asleep while I was driving, so that meant no nap for me or no time to do work while he napped.
Or I could look at it as a gift. It gave me time to sip and enjoy the rest of my London Fog and marvel in a beautiful Saskatchewan prairie. We took the ferry twice, the second time Cub was awake so he could enjoy it, too.
It’s no secret I’ve been struggling the last bit, but I feel like I’ve come out the other side, and I know that at least part of it is changing how I look at things. (The other part is recognizing that babies and toddlers are always changing, and you’ve gotta just go with the flow! Easier said than done, but once you can master this…you’re golden. I am still working on this.)
As I look back on some of the recent struggles, I realize I needed to be embracing the season rather than fighting it. So there were days my boy didn’t want to nap. So what? That means more time to go outside for a bike ride or have him sit in my lap as we read books. Nothing lasts forever. (And as hindsight is 20/20, he was just trying to communicate to me that he wasn’t ready for a nap, he wanted it later – I’m growing up, Mama!)
It dawned on me, too, that there will come a time where he won’t fall asleep on the way home from Saskatoon, so we may not be able to take the scenic route and I may not get this quiet time to myself to enjoy CBC Radio 2. Or maybe he’ll enjoy country drives like me, who knows. The point is, I need to embrace this time for what it is now, and I felt like today was a good step toward that. It doesn’t mean things aren’t or can’t be tough. They sometimes are. But there is always something beautiful about every season if you just look for it. Even when it’s a windy, rainy April day in Saskatchewan.