100. Say It Again, Sam

100. Say It Again, Sam

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Multitasking Mom's Survival Guide

Say It Again, Sam

If I have a monument in this world, it is my son.

~Maya Angelou

“Mom, did you hear me?” my son Samuel asks.

“Hmmm,” I say.

“The cookout. For youth group. It starts at four.”

“Gotcha,” I say. But truth be known, it probably didn’t register. I’m admiring my son. He’s standing on the deck near our pool. His skin is a warm, cocoa brown. His wet hair stands up in blond tufts, corn-silk salutes to summer and boyhood and swimming and fun.

“I love you, Sam,” I say.

“Love you too, Mom.” And he’s off. His eleven-year-old, gangly preteen body leaps and curls, and now he’s a cannonball plunging into the water below. A wild spray of water rains on the deck. On his brothers who are sprawled on a blanket, playing with a green plastic cavalry. And on me.

It’s going to be crazy. This cookout that Sam will go to lands right in the middle of a jam-packed day. My husband and I will have to double-team the schedule for sure. We’re used to it, though. We have five sons. Sometimes our two family vans run like a hotel shuttle service. Passengers here. Passengers there. Drop off. Pick up. Passing sometimes on our town’s main road, the one that parallels the Mississippi River, in red and silver blurs.

I let the sun rest on my shoulders for just a moment before I begin the great withdrawal. Our three youngest sons are playing in or around the pool. There has been an hour of unscheduled goodness. An hour of heaven. An hour of stay-at-home stillness that has become a rare thing. Pulling them from the pool, encouraging them to shower and dress and find all six wayward flip-flop shoes — that will be a chore.

I notice that two of my little guys are in combat with their plastic army men. Their hands are curled around soldiers. Their legs fold like pretzel twists. And their hair, a slight green from pool chemicals, is slicked back like seals. I watch them for a moment. Drink in the sound of their little-boy voices. I want to hold these moments, these sounds, the sights and smells and feel of this day in my heart.

I know they pass too soon.

It’s a three-party day. Might sound like a lot, but truly it’s not an unusual thing. With so many people under one roof, there is always a friend having a gathering. Today I’ll drive two over the river to visit a boy from church. His birthday party will be this afternoon. My husband will have to shuttle Sam and friends to the cookout. And we’ll both have to shoot home and get ready for my friend’s surprise birthday party. It will all have to work smoothly — synchronized like water ballet. We’ll need to be accomplished and gathered and in place when my friend walks, hand-over-mouth, into her birthday celebration at five.

I notice that Sam has taken two or three more leaps into the pool, and I know that I have to get shaking. If we’re not on time, the dominos will fall, and the afternoon will crash. Never mind that I also have to make lunch for today and a potluck casserole for a breakfast thing tomorrow.

But I’m drawn to this play of my sons.

They’ve stacked river rock in a wall. Palm-sized pebbles for the small green men to scale.

My friend says it’s my saving grace — this longing to watch, listen, witness the miracles of the small things around me. Our lives move so fast. It’s here and there and back to here again. We’re always running, doing, committing. If I don’t carve a moment to appreciate, to know, to treasure these everyday things, they’ll be swept away in yesterdays.

And I want to live these moments. I want to make myself slow down enough to let them run through my senses and settle into my heart.

Samuel trudges over, leaving near man-sized footprints on the boards of the deck. He stands in front of me and gives me a gap-toothed grin.

“Mom, did you hear me?” He smiles. He knows how I am. “The cookout. It starts at four.”

Yes, Sam. I know what you’re really saying. “Mom, better get moving. There’s lots to do, and we have to be on time.”

It registers.

The cookout is at four. And being on time is important.

But you may have to say it again, Sam.

Because I want to take a moment.

I’m not willing to miss the fleeting treasure of you.

~Shawnelle Eliasen

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