I rolled over in bed and whispered to my husband last night, “I think this may be the best time of our lives.” The idea that my statement could be true, thrilled and terrified me.

Context: our three boys were near us in the neighboring bed, on the floor (with a bench cushion and beach towels) and in a wicker chair. We were crowded, cozily, in one room at an oceanfront hotel here in Costa Rica. We had borrowed a DVD (Hidden Figures, a family favorite) from the front and were finally watching it an hour after we had intended.

When we first put the movie in, the color wasn’t working, so my husband tried to fix it. After 30 minutes of frustrated tweaking, and plugging/unplugging, the screen went completely blank and he gave up. I called the front desk. After another 30 minutes, it was back in working order and we settled into watch our flick.

If you don’t have children approximately 8, 11, and 13 years old, you may not realize that the 60 minutes of waiting in one room (with two handymen for a chunk of it) is tough. My oldest was being so bothersome that I sent him outside to sit. You can do that when you have a 5’5” teen. No one will mess with him, in part because of his size, in part because of his stoic/nightclub bouncer- vibe. He’s very intimidating. Please don’t worry that he was sad or scared. He was fine. He was also determined to keep annoying his siblings. When he kept peeking in the door during his time-out (literally!), I sent him to find board games since he was so bored. (I’m really cracking myself up with all my cleverness). He came back with Scrabble and chess and the three of them played quietly until the movie was back on track.

After having young, young children for many years, it was delightful to recognize their blossoming independence. I don’t let them get into bodies of water without adult supervision (no lifeguards in Costa Rica, it doesn’t seem to be a thing here), but they are getting better and better at entertaining themselves and helping one another.

As a family, we enjoy being together 85% of the time. The other 15% we are all sick of togetherness. We are probably sick of ourselves and we’re projecting. Regardless, we need space. We are not cozy and loving all the time. Please know that my children are interrupting me so much as I write this (rough-housing in the hotel pool), that I had to send them to the ocean with their father. I needed a break before “I become bitter and bitchy,” which I fear I already am at 9:22 am.

This is the state of my family; annoying and awesome:

·      Sons wiping their plate clean with an index finger and licking that finger like it’s a popsicle.

·      A symphony of flatulence in a one-room hotel room during a movie.

·      Waking to find my oldest and youngest cuddling in bed while my middle son points and laughs at them.

·      Hours and hours in the ocean riding waves and cheering each other on.

·      WWE wrestling in the infinity pool until it seems that all the water is going to be splashed out into infinity.

·      Talking about Charlottesville until my youngest said he needs a break from feeling sad.

·      Three boys racing and pushing and tripping each other everywhere we go.

·      Eating everything. Everything. No leftovers ever.

·      Lots of help carrying things to and fro.

·      Meticulous packers: my oldest packed 15 cords to make sure we’d be able to keep all devices up and running. He also packed me back-up glasses “just in case.” I laughed at him and told him not to bring them. I’m wearing them now. My middle son loaded the car. I don’t know where anything is, but when I asked for the CDs, our passports, and the book I wanted to read, he immediately handed them to me. We are proud of the youngest, on the other hand, if he has two shoes on. I am not joking.

·      My husband and I take turns being good cop or bad cop. We hug a lot. We remind ourselves how grateful we are that our boys are healthy and happy. We mostly do this when we sense that chaos is mounting and something or someone is going to be hurt. Within moments that invariably comes to pass. Band-aids and super glue are always close at hand.

·      Three unpaid workers cleaning up dinner every single night.

·      Lots of hugging and kissing and apologizing…from everyone.

·      When we hold hands we always interlock fingers.

·      Dirty shoes and more dirty shoes.

·      Some DC Comics video game that they all play on my pink iPad. They earn points to “buy” characters to use in battle. They discuss strategy and decide how to budget for the idea fighters. You’d think they were running a company. This is very serious business and they negotiate and debate for at least an hour a day about this one game. Heaven forbid someone buys something that isn’t a good investment. An intervention is held for the offending brother.

·      Teasing about girls. Only one gets embarrassed.

·      Lots of strategizing about fishing, catching bugs, and making Tang drink.

·      Talking about something serious, sad, funny, or hypothetical for 30-90 minutes after dinner every night.

We are in another part of the world, but most of our activities, interactions, and dynamics are identical to when we were in the States. We wanted our boys to experience the world; to become international citizens. It’s funny because the saying, “some things change and some things stay the same” is really fitting for us. We have changed a lot of components of our life, but it still feels like home anywhere we go.

Ironically, right before we left our home of 8 years, my 8-year old said he didn’t want to move. He loved our home- obviously, it’s the only home he’s ever known. I sympathized with him and told him he could stay behind in the house. Alone. His mood instantly shifted. He looked at me like I was crazy. You probably think I’m crazy to say that to my 2nd grader. I didn’t belabor the point: if we all leave a particular house, is it still “our” home? How would it feel to be in a house without the people you love? He agreed that he would rather be with us than fight for the empty shell of our habitation. He didn’t really know how it would feel to live somewhere else, but I could see he was weighing his options differently.

So we moved. First to a two-room casita for over 3 weeks and then to a two-room (one bedroom without walls…see previous posts for details) villa for almost 4 weeks. Regardless of our domicile and thanks to my husband, we have family dinner every night and everyone gets to school every day whether it’s walking, in a taxi, a rental car, or our new, super-lifted, turbo 4Runner.

Yesterday I sat with my youngest on a lounge chair on the beach. I asked him if he wanted to go back to our old home. He listed the two homes we’ve lived in while in Costa Rica.

“No, our house back in Maryland.”

“No.”

“Yeah,” I replied, “me neither, it’s fun being on an adventure with you.”

“Yeah,” he agreed. He then punctuated the mushy moment with a kiss. He always does that.

I’m not sure if this is the best time of my life.

There have been loads of wonderful times leading up to this moment. I also loved being a kid in a family growing up in the 80s. There are no rose-colored glasses for my memories. I can still easily remember what monsters my three brothers and I were. We broke and bruised everything in the house and our bodies. We loved each other and we loved our parents. We wrestled and fought constantly. We talked every issue to death and cheered for each other like maniacs at sporting events (props to Dad for always being the loudest, by far). My parents were in a constant state of cleaning, disciplining, and loving us. They said they can’t remember daily details from our early years. Mom says she remembers buying a lot of milk. Always buying more milk. Maybe it’s for the best that they don’t remember all the antics that Brian and I are experiencing as parents right now. To that end, I say all parents should have selective memories and focus on all the non-flatulent moments of child-rearing.

The time during college and pre-kid marriage was great, too. Loads of fun and travel and new friends.

But now, right now, feels precariously awesome. My terrible children are wonderful. They really like me and Brian and we really like them. We spend time together by default; no arranging time to visit. Oh, and everyone is potty-trained and able to feed themselves. The baby years with them were hard in that regard (bless the boobies). We are now independent folks who get to live together, grow together, and wiggle our way through the world together.

I know that things will shift and change soon. Maybe a new “best time” of my life awaits, but I’m feeling pretty damn happy right now.

#family #momofboys #worldcitizens #AmyRBrooks #VoicePenPuporse #stateofaffairs #children #parents #flatulence

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