It was Thursday evening at 6:30, the second hour of the period of time that many working parents begrudgingly refer to as “the grind:” the three or four chaotic hours between our arrival home from work and bedtime, in which we must make dinner, eat dinner, and relish our limited time with our children before bathing them, wrangling them into their pajamas, reading umpteen bedtime stories, putting them to bed, and preparing for tomorrow morning.
As usual, my body was performing a number of tasks while my mind was churning through dozens more. I was cooking dinner, talking to my husband about his workday, playing with my two-year-old son, and mentally writing a list of all the things I needed to do before I turned in for the night.
Part of me became aware of my son’s voice, “Look, Mama! Look, Mama! Look, Mama!” above the whistling of a kettle (I am perpetually boiling water for coffee). In one swift motion I closed the dishwasher I’d just finished loading, turned off the kettle, and crouched down to attend to whatever my son was trying to show me.
“Look, Mama!” he repeated. My vision was suddenly obscured by the wings of a stinkbug. He thrust the dead bug into my face, so close that I could see the speckled details of its wings, the tiger stripes of its antenna. Behind it, my son’s perfect dimpled knuckles were smeared with paint from his daily crafts, and behind his hand, his eyes surged with wonder. In this moment, he was intently focused on a single effort: showing me a fascinating thing he had discovered.