“Mama…” my son says, lying warm and still beside me. “Cats are more likely to bite you than snakes. Foxes are rough… but they’re so cute when they’re young.” Nels is falling asleep. A beat later he says, “Foxes are so cute, I just love them so much.”
It’s 9:30 PM and we’re lying together in the kids’ bedroom. It feels so safe and secure and cozy and well-tended: the kind of room I’d have loved as a child with everything in its place, soft starlight-lighting and clean sheets and nooks to read or sleep in. Ralph and Phoenix, a few moments ago, had put the room back in order (after a day of Legos, drawing, reading, and respite from outdoor shenanigans) and now a pink nightlight bathes us in a glow and Nels is snuggled next to me under a down comforter. It’s seemed warm inside today so the window is open for fresh air. He holds my hand and sighs and kisses me and his blonde hair falls across my face now and then and his body finally grows heavy with sleep and his skin is so soft and smooth.
It was a hard day for he and I. He made a fool of me in the coffee shop or rather, he behaved like a six year old and I responded poorly, making a fool of myself. For quite some time afterward I was angry and unforgiving even after he’d repented (for his part) and after I realized I’d done him wrong (and apologized for it). It’s like – some days I don’t bounce back so quick. Eventually I softened and we rejoined in holding one another close (physically and emotionally).
Still, I was grateful for a walk with the children in the cold, crisp air, and a night cooking dinner on my own (teriyaki chicken and sticky rice; carrot and celery sticks and baby corn with dipping sauce) while Ralph taught his late-night class. Phoenix is knee-deep in her book series and surfaces to run around outside for a bit (the kids are digging a “mine” in the backyard) or eat; little else.
In living with children sometimes I feel I’ve been given this extraordinary privilege and gift, like a bottomless well of light and joy I can sample from any time I choose. I write and write and write to get across what it’s like when I’m wise enough to choose this way, but I can only capture glimpses and I suspect I’ll never make it fully known how deeply I love and enjoy these little ones. I’ve had wonderful friendships and family and jobs and experiences and moments in my life but nothing as magical as these children have been.
Now at 10:30 Ralph warms up my mom’s truck so we can head out for groceries (provided our plastic doesn’t bounce), and a few minutes alone and on the road. Tonight in the hours before I sleep I’ll go into the room and kiss my sleeping son, before crawling in bed with my newly-bathed daughter and watching B-movies or nature films into the wee hours. This winter continues to be hard on me, but family provides much respite and healing. I feel so fortunate to have them.