domestic interludes

Today I woke up in worse shape than I was two days ago. My throat, my sinuses – congested, scratchy, ill. Yuck. This morning at least I am blessed with plenty of sleep and no hangover. At 7:30 I slide out of bed (kids still sleeping) and head to the kitchen. Start coffee for my husband and I and some breakfast for my kids to warm in the oven (they wake up voraciously hungry and a proactive breakfast is something I can throw at them in self defense, like jars of peanut butter at voracious doberman shepherds from some movie I saw once).

About 8 o’clock after Ralph has left and I’ve caught up on email and am contemplating sitting down and resting (I’ve done the math and I believe I do this about every 2.6 days) when I hear whispers from the hallway – Sophie coaxing Nels about something. I open the door to their bedroom to see my children, tousle-haired, pj’d, asking for Mama. I know the drill. I take my coffee and put it on the coffee table; sit on the couch. Nels crawls up on my left side, Sophie furnishes the blanket and tucks herself on my right. The three of us sit there quietly for minutes. I stroke their backs and the length of their strong, sturdy little legs; their little hands pet me. The smell on the top of Nels’ head is something lovely and indefinable. It is part shampoo, part health, part sleep, part uniquely and wondrously my Son.

I realize as I sit there with them that I have some sort of precious commodity. I have a treasure that I did not altogether ask for, nor did I quite win like a lottery. It isn’t the only treasure in the world nor the most glamorous. I do not deserve it entirely, based on merit, but many others (more deserving?) do not have what I have. These creatures curled up on my lap depend on me, love me, and are forever connected to me. Nothing could break the programming within them that causes them to find my arms, my voice, my smell to be the most Home they could ever hope to find.

A couple hours later and I’m home doing dishes by myself. My daughter is at school; my son with Abbi who is watching him for me as I take a more restful morning than I would normally have. In this way too I am fortunate, benefiting from friends who are also raising their young children. Abbi and I are sometimes like dual wives; daily bringing food, clothing, children’s books and knitware back and forth to one another. Just a phone call away from help, commiseration.

Tonight for dinner: Beef-in-Guinness (courtesy of a lovely brisket from Sunny Farms*), potatoes, cabbage, and carrots. We are sharing our meal with a friend and her daughter. Home-cooking and loved ones all around.

* This website cheerily claims, “a row of registers along the front of the store helps keep customer wait time to a minimum” – what they don’t tell you is that there is no frakin’ room to wheel your cart, and that several of your fellow cart-using customers will glare at YOU as if this is your fault. It’s the weirdest vibe.

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