This morning featured an odd swap: my own children ferried to Olympia for pediatric dentist appointments, while my friend Abi brought me her two daughters so she could attend traffic court (dealing with a ticket she got the last time she visited from Port Townsend). I’m standing at the kitchen sink – I’m always standing at the kitchen sink – doing the dishes and I look up and see the tiny half of a fluoride tablet – the last thing my kids consume at night. Sophie takes a full tab and Nels takes a half; last night Ralph (for fun) dissolved Nels’ portion in a tiny cup, with a tiny bit of yellow food coloring, and my husband went upstairs and sang this chant-like drone, calling it Snake Poison, that would turn my son into a snake, and would Nels consume the Snake Poison? (Nels did.)
Looking at the tablet, and it’s sitting there on a little tile by this window, a windowsill that Ralph had so courteously cleaned up for me the other day – either he knows just how much I look at or past that place, or he unconsciously sensed how much it pleases my eye to have it cleaned – and I’m hit with the extremely obvious fact that Ralph and I have invested so much in one another, so much in the children, and the two are so explicity intertwined it is hard to separate. It seems our near every effort is bent upon the family, the children, our home, and each other, doing the four of us and doing it well. And we do it with a lot of intentionality, and a lot of humor – the best we can, given our limitations. I did not know this about myself but I would not have been happy with a man who didn’t give his all, just like I do, for our foursome.
This fluoride tablet means my husband sat and fussily cut it in half and then did this other funny Snake Poison ritual for our boy (our son who’d been being a challenging person most of the day) and then set the remaining half-tablet somewhere smart, he didn’t throw it away. This fluoride tablet means I am not a “Mommy of three” as some wives will say, throwing their spouse in with the children, someone to care for, someone to pick up after or roll eyes over. Ralph keeps pace with me as best he can, his forty hours a week taken from him elsewhere, not being privy to the many hours a day of household function and childhood caprice. Home and his every effort – besides a little rock and roll, a little time out watering our garden and messing with the chickens – he does the dishes and picks up the kids when they run off and makes them concoctions of their daily medicine, the tiny rites we both perform day after day after day that weave into a lifetime of consistent, loving care.