You know how you buy Christmas gifts for people and then you just never get around to seeing them. I’ve had two candy-cane gift wrapped boxes in the corner of the television room for months. I’ve actually dusted them. So on Thursday my wife begged me to go see this friend of ours who I speak to on the phone and exchange emails with often but never see.
So I went over to drop off gifts for him and his wife. We all laughed about the gifts and had a good time. While I was there my friend showed me his children’s video game system. A Wii. Now, mind you his twins are four years old so something tells me the Wii is more for him than for the children but…we played an inning of baseball (OK, a few innings.) I didn’t do so well as “my friend” wasn’t very forthcoming with the “how to play” instructions. He reveled in the fact that my poor Mets were destroyed.
The whole thing felt a little awkward to me though. You’re standing in the middle of a room throwing invisible balls and swinging invisible bats. Weird. You’re doing all the motions but not really accomplishing anything.
On the way home, I had my rosary beads out as is my habit and I prayed while listening to the radio. When I returned home I took care of the children essentially by reading near where they played. That night, my wife and I sat silently on the couch watching a movie. There was a stack of bills and a pile of laundry nearby mocking me, depressing both my wife and me but neither of us had the energy to charge those hills.
Something just hit me on Friday though. I wondered if sometimes I was a Wii Catholic, a Wii parent, A Wii husband? I’ve been going through the motions but not really accomplishing anything. Faking it. I think at times I live a Wii life. I realized that reading near the children is not raising them. Watching t.v. next to my wife is not spending time with her. Praying while listening to talk radio is actually just listening to talk radio. I’ve been where I was supposed to be but not really accomplishing anything.
I need to remind myself to live more intentionally. Sometimes folding laundry, doing dishes or paying bills is the most loving act you can do for your spouse. Sometimes reading a story to a child is what they want most- even when Hannah Montana’s on. Sometimes the rosary is the best thing you can do for everyone.
I know I sometimes enjoy my interior life too much. I am comfortable in the well worn grooves of my mind. I think sometimes I just have to disconnect a bit from my own thoughts to reconnect with others. And the funny thing is that I always discover that life outside of my head is a lot more…unpremeditated. Effusive. Enjoyable.
At Ikea Saturday, my three year old son whispered to his sisters that he wanted to ride the six foot tall paper mache pony statue. My six year old warned him security would kick him out. My five year old daughter looked around and said, “You know, I haven’t seen security around in a while.” I think most days I would’ve missed that.
Last night, my wife gave me the choice of DVD to put in. Now normally that means it’s “Lord of the Rings” time at the Archbold house. Instead, I turned off the television and we talked. About work. Neighbors. Funny stories about the kids. Worries about the kids.
On Sunday, my children and I drove over to Valley Forge as the sun went down. My kids love the open fields, the excitement of woods, the unexpected interruption of deer, and walking through the old log cabins.
We rolled ourselves down a long grassy hill to see who could roll fastest. I tried to come in last but at some point once you get me rolling I pick up speed…that is until I collide with a six year old who can’t roll straight. We all laid there at the bottom until we were able to stand again. We watched the clouds brightening as they passed briefly before the Sun and then fade into darkness, their edges purpling as they drifted over the forest.
It was a great day. A non-Wii day. I don’t think rolling down hills accomplishes anything necessarily but at least I felt like I was back in the game. The real one.