Last night Nels rolls around in bed on top of me in the bed, then off to grab a few bites of late-night spaghetti, then a glass of water, then to wash his hands and back to slip into the blanket-envelope alongside me. His soft blonde hair falls over his eyes as he pulls me toward him. “Kiss attack,” he smile-whispers, then when this is over, many sweet kisses later: “Snuggle-trance!” (Yes, these are real things in our household.) He smells and feels wonderful. Come to think of it I love the smells and skin and hair of each member of my family; tears well in my eyes when I pull my daughter to me in the morning, her head only a short bend to kiss the top; both kids getting so tall. Even our cats, I am not ashamed to admit, I will put my faces in their soft tummies and enjoy the warmth and the wonderful smell and feel fierce at the thought of the tiny lives beneath my fingertips (the chickens get a pass on all this lovin’, from me anyway).
Nels is just about asleep when he whispers he wants an Alien Pancake, a gimmicky little kids’ menu item at Denny’s (here’s a home version – very sweet!). My heart swells because I think of course I will make this a priority; I have grocery money tomorrow and I am completely going to take my kids out to this diner that they so love (my feelings for the chain are decidedly less enthusiastic). In the morning I call my mother and ask if she wants to go with us and she says Yes; she has an impulsive streak just like me and loves to go out to eat – just like me. The same part of her that will say Yes to a date with her daughter and grandkids even knowing she has a busy schedule of yardwork ahead of her is the same part that asked for roses being beheaded at the Lutheran church today and thus they now lay on a large sheet in her living room, filling her house with their fragrance. Something about she and I similar; we reach and pluck those lovely things when we see them, impetuous decisions more from the heart and less from the mind.
My mom is a wonderful lunch date and joins me in my passionate subjects of conversation of which you dear reader can likely imagine as I often give you a taste. She shares her excitement over her own current projects: the final mural for the 8th Street Ale House (she wants to buy vegetables for her still life painting and then donate the produce to yours truly), hanging doors on her greenhouse. Then tells me, “Well I made another friend.” I ask, “What’s his name?” She says, “It’s the worst name. Think of the worst name you can.” I think. Then I say, “Dwayne.” She laughs and says OK, mine is the worst, but this fellow? “Clyde.” I turn to my daughter and say, “You’re going to get another step-grandpa again. Grandma’s looking for a boyfriend.” “No I’m not!” My mother huffs. “Yes you are,” Phoenix smiles back immediately with her perfect wide and crooked smile. My daughter is getting quite the mouth on her, and I mean this in an absolutely stunningly positive way; she is learning she has every right to her observances and to be a part of the conversation as worthwhile as anyone else, and she’s right. She is one of the most Present people I’ve met.
Tomorrow on the recommendation of a friend we’re going to hike at Friends Landing. Tonight we’re up late baking bread and cookies and making snacks for the trip. As I wait for the oatmeal peanut butter cookies to cool my daughter IMs me under my husband’s account. She types so readily and conversationally at first I am very confused, thinking it’s my husband but knowing he’s on the road buying late-night last-minute groceries (milk, cream, chocolate syrup, mixer for tonight’s gin and tonics). Sitting on the computer and laughing at her IM-expression, these tiny moments where there is a disconnect, or sometimes some of the larger periods of separation, I have a brief preview of what it’s going to be like to have my babies one day distant from my body. I feel no fear nor sorrow, just a deep and abiding sweetness at my love for them and my pride in their personhood. In our as-yet brief life together they’ve already given me the gift of Humanity in a way I could not have perceived a decade ago. Something like that, when you really consider all I’ve been given, it’s no wonder I’m up late cookie-baking and packing for a hike and feeling only grateful to tumble into bed with their sweet-smelling bodies.