It’s 2 PM. Overheard in our house:
Phoenix: “Nels, it’s time for breakfast. A good breakfast. A frosting breakfast!”
Yeah. At 2 PM. And yes, that was pretty much their breakfast: cake and frosting, and yeah, as soon as I’m done with my morning reading and writing I’ll pull them out of the cheap kiddie pool where they’re gleefully playing with a friend recently-returned-from-vacation and a handful of other kids, and well go off on bikes for lunch out, in the sunshine, all the possibilities of the road before us.
We stayed out late last night at a party our friends threw and I got up to some drinking. So this morning I was not so much sleeping off a hangover, as sleeping off the effects of gin. By this I mean at 5 AM I woke and was still a little stumbly. I watched two movies on my husband’s laptop (Happy Accidents and The Man From Snowy River, both really wonderful, and no that isn’t the booze talking) and drank a lot of water and took a hot shower and soon felt wonderful. By the time I fell asleep again I’d had to peel two children and four cats off me. Four motherfucking cats.
The party debauchery was the cap to a wonderful day yesterday – my husband’s birthday. We spent it together as a family indoors/outdoors, grocery shopping for birthday cake accoutrement and then a late lunch/early dinner at our favorite HQX eatery, and the kids climbed on and off our laps and Nels talked our ears off sweetly about his newest and most favorite online video game, Fancy Pants Adventures (if you’ve never met us, you can play this video game and watch the animation of Fancy Pants and that is exactly who my son is in demeanor and speed and appearance). For birthday presents Ralph took the children shopping and bought them Legos (yes, he bought gifts for them for his birthday) and while they constructed these at home I readied us for the gathering we’d be invited to, whipping a mascarpone filling and baking three layers of chocolate cake to top with my favorite glossy, rich double-chocolate buttercream frosting. The sunlight filtered through the kitchen and a low chill began to form outside as I stacked the confectionary all up and pulled aside some homemade hummus for a hostess gift.
This morning my children are so very sweet; after waking near me and holding and petting me I tell them I need to sleep a little longer, I was awake in the middle of the night. So they rise and groom themselves and get glases of milk and read to one another and begin going outside, coming inside, bringing kittens out to play, and splashing in the cheap little kiddie pool where they currently are; four neighbor boys are with them, one white and three dark-skinned, all six children in a variety of states of dress and undress. My daughter comes inside and the first thing she says is, “Mama, did you manage to get some good sleep?” She is calm and paces into my arms, her eyes are serene and clear like a tiny fierce predator.
I honestly believe in many ways my children have such a wonderful childhood, which I do not provide for them inasmuch as I’m able just because I love them, but because I care about what they will in turn provide for the others they meet along the way. And – maybe this seems odd to some – my children’s joyful life is contagious, it infuses me and changes me for the better, daily. Their lives give me strength. Last night at the party a friend told me he respected how much I seek out and consume and write on activist subjects. I told him it wore me down at times and he said, “Well thanks for wearing yourself out for me so you can provide these pieces to me.” I wonder if maybe my children and the future they hold in their hands are my reason I do wear myself out, voluntarily so. If that’s true I also recognize how incredibly restorative they are to me.
My own little joy-capacitors, and we infuse one another with loving care and joyful energy.