Settled in the couch corner with my laptop and working through my to-do list — schedule Rachel’s orthodontist appointment, research a new Spanish curriculum for the girls, order the next violin book for —
“Mama, I just want to snuggle,” Prairie says, plopping down next to me and curling close. She chats about her hair, aerial silks, the dog, her sinus headache…
Back to my list — I search for mattresses which the boys will need for college next month —
“Mama, can you rub my shoulder right here. It hurts.” I move my computer from my lap and turn to dig my fingers deep into Lincoln’s muscle.
Next on my list — pay the credit card —
Rachel settles beside me without a word, waiting for me to look at her. I glance up, knowing I will see her smile, the one that says “I want you to pay attention to me but I don’t want to ask you to pay attention to me.” Her back is conveniently located within my hand’s reach. Just in case I should feel like giving her a scratch.
Soon after, I run up the stairs to change clothes. I have 5 minutes to get ready for a 3 o’clock meeting in town. “Mama,” says Sidney, catching me midway up the stairs, “I have a video to show you. I think it will make you smile.”
I think about my to-do list. I should start every day’s list with “Focused, in-the-moment, attention to each child.”
Lest I forget … while they do need me to be a responsible adult who pays the bills, schedules their dental needs, plan for their education … they need hugs, an attentive ear, massaging fingers, an interested eye, and a scratching hand more. They need all the things that say “Love.”
Or maybe my to-do list can be squashed to one word — mothering.
or normally or typically,
even shopping at Aldi…
It is not even 8 am, and I hear
the engine of your pickup zooming up the driveway.
You have forgotten something.
Truck door slams, your steps thump across the porch,
the mudroom door opens, closes …
My ears trace your journey through our home,
up the stairs. You are close enough that I hear you humming
or maybe singing under your breath.
There is a rushing in my chest —
I allow myself to receive it —
You are alive
Your body is strong enough to rise early,
to run up stairs,
Son, I was not sure this day would come,
(Can we ever be sure of days to come?),
but here we are
an ordinary day in which you swing a shovel,
work up a sweat in the summer sun.
So many weak, bed-ridden days we have had together, you and I.
We are forever changed.
And this Ordinary day of an Ordinary Life feels unbearably beautiful.
Even more so, when I reflect . . .
Could we have had THIS day, this moment
without all that came before?
Did all those sleepless, trembling, chemo-soaked yesterdays
lead us to this place?
Where we see ordinary as exquisite, dear and remarkable?
“I woke up this morning thinking I had two noses.” – Sid
“I’m going to resume my life tomorrow when I’m less stressed.” – Prairie
Rachel, upon observing a hornet-like insect hovering outside the window “That thing looks like it wants to drill into your soul.”
“I’m very used to women liking me. That’s just how it goes.” – Sidney (He honestly said this without the least bit of arrogance. He simply recognizes that women of all ages appreciate being treated with respect.)
A dialogue between Sid and me, soooo typical . . .
Me – “I love you.”
Sid – “Knowing you as I do, loving me is the best thing for you.”
Me – laugh because really, what can I say to that?
Sid – “You laugh? It sounds silly, I know, but do you doubt me?”
A family dialogue that was about the misinformed reports of teenagers growing horns because of cell phone use . . . and that wandered off track . . .
Rachel – “In the animal kingdom, males tend to have more horny features.”
A short pause, where we all try to contain the guffaws …
Sid – “You have no idea how true that is.”
Rachel, turning as red as her hair – “Let me rephrase that. I was trying to say that in the animal kingdom, males tend to have horns, but the females don’t. Like goats.”