Monday was good. Mostly.
I won’t tell you about the shadow parts—that strange time in the late afternoon that I’m sure I’ve alluded to in previous posts. Me and my son melting down from exhaustion and sleepiness and boredom with each other. Me and him wishing for someone to come between us, to save us from the other, to help us take refuge from the other while being away from the other. Me and the boy crumbling under the weight of all that good time that a father spends with his son, even though that father is sleep-deprived and growing sharp and impatient as 5pm drags until 5:53pm when my wife came through with a refreshed lightness which could only be heard as God’s song in the early evening. You don’t want to read about that.
So I’ll tell you about something else. Something more exciting. Something that will surely capture your interest. What did me and the boy do last Monday? We walked to an art museum to find that the gallery had changed its hours and that they were, on Mondays, closed. I muttered to Bryce that this was becoming a little trend between us, places being closed. I told him that I needed a different off day, and he didn’t appreciate the thickness of the statement. He didn’t even catch the joke that I hardly had an off day. He, instead, looked down Greenwood like he was figuring out where we’d go next.
We turned down 55th and walked to the store. I can go to the store three times a week and will still need something. So we headed shopping to grab items. He looked and pointed to squirrels. I looked ahead and rambled about nothing to no one the way people who talk to themselves normally do, being shielded by the perception that I was speaking to my son who really didn’t understand much and which revealed that I was, in fact, talking to myself.
We strolled through the aisles of an unnamed store over on Lake Park at the corner of 55th Street, and when I refused to pay $2 extra for the same thing I could get at a cheaper store, we went to that other store. I walked slowly, saddened that we weren’t stationing ourselves in front of some beautiful splash of orange or green or purple.
I wanted to see art. I had imagined it that morning. All these years in the neighborhood and I was finally going to the Smart Museum. I had been to the Hyde Park Art Center. I spend most of my waking hours at Little Black Pearl. And I was going to accompany my boy to see the neighborhood’s other storehouse of artistic expression. I wore a Wheaton sweatshirt. And when we walked into the museum, three things happened. The smell of coffee wafted in invisible circles around my nose. A nice and smiling man answered the question I raised, You’re not open?, with “I hope you didn’t drive from Wheaton. And we turned around, waving goodbye to the man and the coffee and the museum.
I hate it when my plans splinter. I said this to my son. During my scattered ramblings while he was pointing out birds and calling squirrels dogs. Everything that isn’t a bird is a woof woof. Or whoof whoof. Why should I be concerned to spell correctly what my son says?
So Monday was boring in a sentimental way. It was boring in the same that one thousand weeks are boring when you spend your days and nights doing nothing spectacular right before you wake up and realize that you’ve spent a life walking around a neighborhood and never noticing. It was boring the way all early days of parenting are boring. Boring because nothing—absolutely nothing—about poop is exciting when you’ve cleaned it from the same bottom, talked about it with your wife and with the grands and with people who never wanted to know about your son’s poop.
Regular days are boring, end of sentence. And somehow it’s the regular days, the walks, the meltdowns, the off days that aren’t exactly off days that combine to form our lives. I’m not quite okay with that. I want to reach for something a bit more glorious, not quite so earthy, on days with my son. I want us to make memories that he in his little 18-month mind will remember even though his memory structures aren’t fully formed. I want to live things that are fun and laughable and which cramp my fingers to write about there’s so much detail.
I started blogging these Monday memories because I didn’t have breaks (much less what my colleagues call Sabbath) as a new parent with such a full life. And I didn’t like it. I still don’t.
I’ve given a lot away since the boy came along. And unbeknownst to me, I will give up more. I will give it all up—if I do this thing right—because that’s what my life, which is a Christian experience, is about. I won’t leave all my countless Mondays with any of it. Boring or not. And Monday was a reminder of that, which is what I mean when I say that it was mostly good. There was no art in front of me, not the splashy, thrilling kind at least. But there was a piece being constructed. There was a project being chipped at. The more I think about these days, and all the other ones, the more I see that the project is me.