My days are filled to the brim with children and housekeeping and writing.
I push a grocery cart through the store, glancing down each aisle trying to find the right one. I have a short time left before it is time to pick up my preschooler. Baby boy jabbers away in the cart and I respond automatically. I stop short, finally spotting what I am looking for and I hear, “Mama, I love you.”
I lean over and kiss his soft fluffy head, “I love you too, baby.” I breathe in his smell then lean over and grab the cereal off the shelf. We have exactly five minutes before we have to leave the store.
I keep a schedule that sometimes I can’t even keep up with.
The volume in the house reaches record levels as the children clamor to complete their evening chores so they can plant themselves in front of the T.V. for half an hour before bedtime. I sign calendars and review homework. I am being beckoned by three different children for varying needs. The younger children have spent the day fighting, tormenting each other in the worst way.
Exhaustion is all encompassing and I find myself struggling to focus on any one task. I finally sit down on the couch satisfied that most needs have been met. My 4 year old snuggles up next to me and turns her small face towards me, “Mama, when can I learn how to read?”
“Anytime you want to. You just have to learn all your letters first.”
“I know all my letters, can we go read right now?”
I put my tablet down and we go in the den together to learn how to read.
There’s a lot of alreadys. It’s already garbage day. Or it’s already time to meal plan and grocery shop.
It’s already time to go for a run. I drag my weary body out of bed and stumble around in the dark until I am dressed and ready to go. Each step feels sluggish, my body groaning as loudly as my brain about the early morning, about the long run. It takes me longer than usual to find my groove, but I finally find it somewhere on the downhill. I keep pace with my music and tell myself that I will be happy I did this.
The cold air stings my face as my body warms up. That’s when I feel it, that runner’s high. I want to shout, but it’s a tad bit too early for such exuberance. So instead I smile and enjoy the feeling of being alive, of accomplishing something hard.
Some days, I just pray for survival. Other days, I want time to slow to a stop.
Bedtime again, the day a blur of taxi driving. I settle into the couch for the first time all day and hear my husband holler, “Get back here and give your mother a hug.”
My son, who is in the beginning stages of towering over me, grumbles his way in my direction. He throws an arm awkwardly around my shoulder, completing the task at hand. I reach out and squeeze him hard and am pleased when I feel a tiny reciprocal squeeze. I quit being offended by his awkward hugs years ago. “I love you,” I say.
“I know.” And he goes off to bed and I decide that knowing is half the battle.
And then there are the moments in between.
The leaves fall to the ground and the bite in the air remind me that it is that time of year again. Already. The feeling of having just done this won’t float away. The children are filled with excitement and wonder as I decorate the house and dig out boxes of costumes. The countdown is on.
The countdown that seemed to last forever is a rather rapid 31 days. I know that before I blink, the children will be lined up in their costumes begging to go trick-or-treating. The stores seem to know this too as Christmas decor is only an aisle or two away from making it’s grand entrance.
“Mama, I be Scooby-Doo?” Baby boy asks.
“Hey, that was my costume FOREVER ago! Wasn’t I Scooby for like 3 years in a row?”
I smile a yes to both boys and put the over sized costume on the little one. He crawls across the floor barking like a dog.
Forever isn’t as long ago as it once seemed.
Those are the moments that make life worth living.