Good Company

kidsrockNormally, the way this blogging thing works is that I find a pebble of an idea in my palm. It can appear suddenly when I’m driving or walking around the lake. Sometimes I have to dig through the sand to find it. Sometimes it feels substantial – a reassuring weight I can close my fingers around. Sometimes if I squeeze too hard, I find it wasn’t a real stone at all and it dissolves into nothing. Sometimes I toss it away or put it in a drawer for later.

If it’s a good one, one worth holding on to, I’ll huff a few puffs of warm air on it and shine it up. Then I’ll start to wrap words around it and – poof – it ends up here on these pages.

This summer, I kept rolling the same nugget around between my hands, over and over, and never made time to write about it. I would be driving with the music on and the windows down or taking a dusky walk with any combination of my kids and the thought would strike me – these guys are pretty good company.

I like to be around people, but I like to be around people who are easy to be around. My guys are easy (for me) to be around (mostly). They are funny and chill, irreverent and observant – all qualities I enjoy in the people I actually choose to spend time with. And this summer it started to dawn on me that these built in sidekicks are such a stroke of good fortune for someone who enjoys a good sidekick. I like walking around the world flanked by my people and in retrospect, it was pretty darn savvy of me to birth a little squadron of my own.

Not too terribly long ago, I ached to race to the market by myself – free, unencumbered, quick as a rabbit – no words, no negotiating, no saying no. But times are ┬áchanging. We’re transitioning from my having to watch, protect and manage to my getting simply to BE. And simply being together frees us up to shoot the shit, kick around, hang. Also, let’s be honest: they’ve got more words now and that makes them way funnier than they used to be.

So why this nugget now? This past weekend we were in Madeline Island. We had already enjoyed a big hike and were lounging around as the day began to fold in on itself. I looked up from my book and saw that the sun had peaked out and got a hankering to go outside. It started as a solo mission but fifteen minutes later I found myself in the company of all of them. Every single one – dog and husband included. We went to the beach and watched the clouds streak pink and purple, skipped rocks and sat on a damp log and talked; my quick solitary walk turned into long stretch of peaceful family time under a darkening Lake Superior sky.

Afterwards we scrambled into the van, pockets full of rocks and chilled to the bone, and I thanked my lucky stars. In that moment I relished being the mama – the one with that mysterious mama duck power, the force that galvanizes the brood to follow. For now, they want to be with me and I best remember this a few years down the road when they’re as private and skittish as wild foals. For now I cling to this: my kids are good company.

And heck, maybe so am I.

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