Son, here’s the thing. Sometimes come 9pm mama is just flat out done.
So when you peer down from that top bunk bed eye to eye with me and question the end of your day with the everlasting, “but whyyyyy?,” a small world flashes before my eyes.
It’s been over 12 hours since I woke you up over and over again. I’ve found lost back packs and missing shoes and matching socks (sometimes). I’ve cooked breakfast sausages or poured cereal and delivered you on time and well loved and (mostly) without shouting to school. And then I’ve blinked and picked you up at school again.
We’ve been to the playground and I’ve pushed your baby sister on the swings. I’ve emptied mulch out of her crocs for what feels like one hundred million times and I’ve remembered the bottled water but always forgotten the snacks.
You’ve run and scootered and played soccer with your friends and I’ve pushed and pulled and cajoled to get you both out of there and off to pick up your middle brother from preschool. I’ve parked and unbuckled car seats and opened doors and pushed school bells and signed check out sheets and gathered up all the art papers and pencil drawings in the whole wide world while slinging your sister under one wailing arm and the car keys and my bag under the other.
I’ve loaded you all up again and driven you home and answered a bajillion “why?” questions and finally turned up the radio and declared it “singing time.” The closest to quiet time I can get between the three of you.
We’ve unloaded and snacked and played Marco/Polo in the basement and someone got injured and someone else felt left out and I’ve referreed and medic-ed and served up pretzels and peanut butter and untied and retied more laces than I can bear to remember. (Note to self: go back to the velcro versions, ain’t no shame in pretend laces).
We’ve had your friends over and laughed our way through brownies and glasses of milk and whined our way through good-byes and promises to come back again soon.
When dad got home you biked and your brother scootered and your baby sister ran down the side walk with her pants so low it would have been totally inappropriate if she was 13 but instead it was just dad-gum adorable at two. There was Football and foot races and more helpings of spaghetti than I could imagine would fit into that skinny torso.
You tricked us into letting you watch TV by trading your dessert and there were at least two pairs of underpants abandoned in the bathroom for very unpleasant reasons.
And that’s just the version of the day you saw, son.
You missed the part where I had a work deadline and conference calls and had to get something dropped off at the bank and something else delivered to the landlord. There was the blinking empty light on the car’s gas tank and the toilet paper that someone had to remember to buy.
There were the conversations your dad and I tried to follow up on and the friends I tried to catch up with in between making dinner and changing someone’s diaper. There’s a blog post due and that crooked shade on the living room lamp and all my clean clothes lined up on the floor because I keep forgetting I’ve given you my dresser and need some new drawers for myself.
So come 9pm, son, your mama, she’s flat out done. And when you ask me, “why?” all this nearly tumbles out of my mouth. This litany of life lived at full tilt with no time off.
How your blink-of-an-eye days age me. How they’re all marathon and sprint all rolled up into one. And how I feel them in my greying hair roots and tired bones and stretch-marked heart.
But your eyes are so big and blue behind your glasses before you take them off to hand them down to me from the top bunk. And I know we will remember today differently. And I realize I’m grateful for that. You storing up treasure and memories so golden and delicious. Me learning the art of letting go of me first and welcoming a family into a solar system where I used to be the sun, the moon and all the stars and liked it that way.
So, I catch the long line of what I’ve survived today before it spills out my lips and swallow hard and stroke back that blonde cowlick instead. And there’s no answer to sum up the sum total of today. Or this life that still surprises me when I discover I’m the grown up. Or how badly I need at least a couple hours to myself to unwind.
So I do what I always do. I laugh, I kiss your forehead, I tuck in your blanket and stand on the bottom rung of your ladder and sigh into your eyes. You smile back and roll over and take the whole day childishly for granted, expecting tomorrow to be the same.
And I step down and turn off the light and close the door half way and walk back down the hall leaving all these pieces of the gift of today – that look so much like stray Legos and beat up bean bag chairs and muddy shoes – unwrapped in my wake.