Today, I thought I’d paint a picture of what my life is like.
The big news of the week was that our six-year-old girl lost her front tooth. I videoed her trying to say “silly sally went to town, walking backwards, upside down” so I could hear the funny whistling lisp she developed. It was all so crazy pink with the swollen gums and her tongue sticking out.
That night, my daughter recounted the story of not beating all the other girls in art class because they put their peacock feathers on the canvas already and she was slower to cut them out. I told her art was not a competition. She’s so red that girl, flaming with desire to be the best, and fastest, and quickest at everything. Sometimes you just need to slow down and take your time. Or try new things even when they don’t come out perfectly the first time around. She’s not daring for fear she might not come out on top. We are working on experimentation.
I had a crazy burst of energy the other day, in part due to the explosion of vegetables from our garden. I peeled and cut up four large butternut squash, their bright, orange flesh so clean and cheerful. I sautéed asparagus and made a salad with cucumbers and tomatoes with an aged balsamic dressing. I stole a friend’s recipe for pasta with capers and cream sauce and the plate was bursting with color. My kids picked out all the bowtie pasta and left all the rest, but I threatened them with something that I now can’t remember and they ended up eating all the spinach. Funny how all that spinach wilts down to nothing when you cook it. A tiny little mass of vitamins that can be gulped down in two bites.
Then a few nights later, I was frustrated that a new bottle of organic tearless wash was bobbling around in the bath, filling with water and making it run out when I tried to use it. That was the millionth time I’d warned my daughter about letting soap ruin in the tub. I was so upset I yelled for both children to immediately exit the bathroom and transport themselves immediately into pajamas. I muttered something about how much money was wasted and having to always repeat myself. All that yellow Burt’s Bees soap diluted and ruined. It was all his fault, my daughter said. She likes to stand around and watch him do things and then blame him for it later. You’re older and wiser. I expect you to set an example. It’s a broken record, that conversation.
Almost every night this week, my son has decided that the only possible way he can sleep, now that he’s graduated from the crib to a normal bed, is to be velcroed to his mother at all times. The moment I inch away, he is awoken from a deep slumber and begins to cry out my name. He is buried in a blue patchwork quilt and is wedged between a pillow I got at pottery barn that says “Discover” but all that blue matches his longing mood. It’s been a long week of hauling a two-year-old back to bed, telling him that he is loved but mommy has her own sleeping place, requesting that he instead cuddle with his bear or stuffed horse, and if all else fails to go sleep in his sister’s room. I try and break up the blackness of night with a nightlight and warm kisses, but all that crying makes me sad. I want to curl up next to him and feel his soft breathing until the end of time.
My husband is out of town for a funeral, which means he left work undone at the office and must catch up upon his return. I have a girl’s dinner and got a babysitter, which means that I’ll have to fork over so much green for one night just to not hear “mama hold me” or “can I watch just one more show” or “I don’t like spinach” or “I didn’t do it.” It’s worth it. It’s always worth it to catch my breath and laugh over swollen glasses of wine and good company.
I am reading Angela’s Ashes, which is so sad and it fills me with an ache that children have to grow up around all that brown drabness, with diapers that are never changed and dirt that is never washed away. I worry about the negative overtones of Disney movies and the stereotypes of Barbie dolls and stress about not having enough Vitamin D in my kids’ diet and then I read that Frank McCourt stole bananas just to stop his twin brothers’ hunger pains. I am filled with a sense of loss for his childhood.
I had a crazy work situation happen Monday afternoon. The entire day was relatively quiet and I could have dealt with that particular crisis better at any other time of day, but of course it happens at 4:30 pm, which is the witching hour at my house when all hell breaks loose and my children act like wild animals. I was trying to convince an attorney to withdraw a subpoena when my daughter comes running in screaming about her brother drinking something he shouldn’t. I see him sucking from a juice box that was somewhere in my daughter’s room. Where did that come from? How long has it been there? Is it molded? Oh for goodness sakes. I rush over in between saying “uh huh” and “why exactly do you need our particular witness for this case” to run over and grab the juice from my son. At the moment I grabbed it, he threw it on the ground and it just so happened my foot came down on top of it, and in that perfect storm, purple juice went spraying all over the wood floor. I wanted to scream, but I ran to the front porch and politely asked counsel to repeat that last part. The one about the Family Code.
All in all, my life is very colorful. It starts out such a blank white canvas when my two feet get out of bed and I pad over toward the coffee machine, like the computer screen that is blank until my fingers find a way to fill the page. I love the richness and hues and the depth of all these stories. The fire and melancholy and stillness all run together like watercolors. My life is full of light from any angle. You could let it dry and hang it on a mantle, scratching your head and saying,
My, my. What a beautiful piece.