All week friends had been asking me if I missed the boys. I responded with an obligatory: YES! But, in reality, I was really enjoying my week with just two non-twin children. We had gone out to dinner almost nightly, swimming and hanging out together. Not that there weren’t moments, but for the most part I was struck with how easy of a week it was with only two children. I really didn’t miss them in the “I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE THEM!” way that I thought most mothers would be feeling after leaving 3/5 of their children some place for five days.
In fact, before we went to camp to pick up the boys, I told Scott that I was a little nervous. Yes, I did miss them in a way, but I was dreading the craziness of having all five of them again.
To be perfectly honest, I was afraid that I’d have to feign excitement at our reuniting.
But when we pulled into the dusty gravel parking lot and Will recognized us and waved, and Marc came running over, and Luke gave a big smile, my throat caught and I couldn’t believe how happy I was to see them, and how much I wanted to know about a week that I had absolutely no part in save for a couple of letters I had written to them. Counselors came over to introduce themselves and tell me about the week. . .and one child grabbed my arm to drag me to meet his new friend while another child tried to drag me in the opposite direction to see the “gaga pit” (an octagon shaped pit that they play “hand soccer” in was the explanation) and I tried to listen and smile and comment and not be overwhelmed by it. I felt relieved when our group was directed to go to the chapel for Mass.
The camp week ended with a Mass by Father John, a Marinist priest from Hawaii who had the most beautiful tenor voice that led us in song. The readings and the homily were about friends and making them and keeping them, and Scott and I looked knowingly at each other because just that morning we were talking about our need to spend more time together apart from the children, about how everything was taking priority and leaving us with not much to cling to.
And then Father John said to the parents, “You might not know it yet. . .but your boys have changed this weekend.” At first this was a funny thought because Will fidgeted through the entire Mass and Luke sat with his fingers in his mouth (a habit that we are having a hard time changing) and I thought to myself, “I can’t wait till they mature just a little more, until the fidgeting and fingers stop and they sit still and listen.”
The ride home with exhausted boys entailed bickering and shoving, and Marc and Maddie having to change seats about half way home, and Marc being in tears of exhaustion and frustration. To say the least, it was unpleasant and filled me again for that longing of ease with just two. At home laundry was piled and sorted in the garage and boys complained about having to unpack and how tired they were.
But, it wasn’t until later in the evening that what Father John said hit me. I was tucking the boys in and Luke said, “Lean over me, mom, but don’t kiss me.” Then he took his thumb and traced the sign of the cross on my forehead. “There,” he said, “that is what we’d do every night. Now, you take your thumb and do that to my forehead.” So I did. But, apparently I made the cross too big and had to retrace it smaller after a brief tutorial. Finally, I got it right. I then went over to Will and he traced a cross on my forehead with the edge of his thumb and I did the same on his head.
The gesture. . .the night Blessing. . .was so simple and so genuine. . .and so embedded with centuries of significance that the boys knew nothing about. Once again my throat caught and I was amazingly happy that they were home–craziness, laundry and all. Father John was right. They had changed; something had shifted slightly but perceptively.