Today I have commitments elsewhere and gotta leave the kids in the lurch. This is rare; almost every single day I can easily construct my day around their needs – which is a really wonderful way to live when you think about it. I hadn’t really thought about it until I started typing just now. So anyway.
Yeah, today I owe a few hours of my time to an enterprise and after helping the kidlets with a few morning practicalities I tell them: I gotta go. I briefly run down my schedule and they are cheered at the thought of a morning to themselves, getting up to their own work without grownups. Who wouldn’t want a day like that?
When I arrive home I bring in a hot pizza and some fresh flowers. The dishes are done and put away perfectly, but I can’t help but think the little ones’ hearts aren’t in it too much since Nels, without fail, leaves the cupboard doors open after he puts away the dishes and cutlery (sometimes in exasperation I tell the children, “Do the dishes/clean the living room/vaccuum the sewing room like Mama would do it“, and they always get what I mean by that). We eat our pizza and I hold each child in turn for a moment and then they’re out the door to a friend’s, promising to return at 5:30.
Glad for a little time to myself, I am sewing up a dress shirt for my son – we will be attending a wedding this summer and I have several garments to make. The fabric I’m using is quite fine, semi-sheer, and wonderful to work with. All the fiddly bits of the shirt – the placket, the collar stand, the cuffs – flow together and the pleasant hiss of the iron’s steam accompanies my singing voice. Hot coffee and laundry and stitching, trimming, pressing. I fall into the trance of craftsmanship.
The children return just a couple minutes late and my daughter stands in the office doorway and apologizes. She is tall and scruffy-looking with her spikey hair and her baggy jeans. Her cheeks are pink and her nose is wet. She asks if she can bring friends over and I say, Sure. Yeah I like other people’s kids in the house, just not when their parents are there at the same time. So anyway, soon my daughter is sitting down with another child and they are painting watercolors and cutting and glueing collages. I listen to my daughter’s patient and confident assistance and I marvel at her tact and generosity. My mother visits, in and out, and expresses admiration for the girls’ artwork. She leaves. Nels leaves. Nels returns. He has Oreo crumbs on his face. Grandmother’s pantry.
My family life courses around me. I’m in the flow still, stitching and trimming and finger-pressing and threading my buttonholer; tying invisible knots and running fingers through the bright-busyness of glass jars holding hundreds of thrifted buttons. I remove hot bread from the oven, and stand to eat in the kitchen: a fold of fresh pita around breaded tofu, cucumber, and sharp cheddar cheese. Ralph, home now, sets plates for the children.
Evening; the house hums into a different state. Ralph to bed; the children playing Legos first loudly, then softly; now reading. The washing machine shudders to a halt for today. The dog slumbers at the foot of my bed, folded into a muscular comma-shape, settling his bones. Without fail he woofs in his sleep, every night. So funny as he is a silent dog during the day!
A glass of water
And a purring cat
And a turned-down bed.