Tax season ended a month ago. I always think that April 15 (or 18) will roll around and the next day we’ll be back to normal. A friend and I were talking about the transition back to a family of four and she called this period a time of reentry. It’s a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. Or even in a month.
Part of our reentry process is taking time away. Our trip to Moab helped us reestablish routines as a family that would be tough to do in our own home where patterns are established and easily followed. But a beautiful vacation isn’t enough.
It’s a reminder that, no matter how intentionally quality time is planned for kids, it just doesn’t replace quantity time. Good, bad, mundane – the girls respond more to Frank being around consistently than all the special activities we try to plan while he’s busy.
Last weekend was a rare one without any plans. I don’t think we’ve had something so quiet since before tax season. Bea had been talking about going to the zoo as a family for a while, so we decided to head over on Saturday. The weather was cooler – perfect for seeing more activity. Bea is a great walker and usually runs around the zoo without complaint.
Once inside the gates, however, the whining started. As we walked by the giraffes and zebras toward the pachyderms, Bea would stop every few feet and demand that Frank carry her. Even her beloved hippo didn’t stop the constant, My knee huuuuurts! Caaaaaarry meeeeee!!!
We totally became those parents – the ones that I never thought we’d be. We threatened no treats, an early nap time, and even canceling our zoo membership. (Clearly we were thinking rationally…)
After a carousel ride to try and reset, we ended up heading back toward the car. At a potty stop before leaving, I was helping Bea adjust her pants when I saw the cause for all the moaning: She had put a small ponytail tie around her leg, under her knee. It had left a deep imprint as her circulation was cutting off. No wonder she was complaining!
I flashed back to that morning, when I saw her ootching the band up her leg. I told her to take it off, but clearly my advice was filed under Things Mom Doesn’t Know. That night, as we got ready for bed, there was still a mark under her knee. Though it had faded completely by morning, it was a reminder that our bodies take time to heal.
I thought about reentry and how immediately I want things to change. I thought about how, when things are tough and uncomfortable, often the fix is simply removing the offending tourniquet. Even though it seems obvious in hindsight, it’s easier to be carried. I’d rather whine and complain than stop and fix.
I was also reminded of how resilient we are. Even though the process can be painful, once we start the process, healing does happen. We do return to normal.
Or maybe I’m reading too much into this. Maybe the real lesson is to listen to my mom.
Have you ever found a solution to a painful situation that seemed so obvious in hindsight?