Today is our 12th anniversary. The day began with the sounds of my second and third child fighting over what show to watch on the iPad before breakfast. Then, there was an argument over the last bit of Lucky Charms. I rarely buy junk cereals, so when I do, it’s a fight to the bitter end for every last crumb.
A little before 10:00, I drove my oldest to a girl scout end-of-year party. I dropped her off with her ten year-old peers, their lanky bodies teetering on awkward. She was proudly sporting her new $5 neon wayfarer-style sunglasses, too big for her face, and bright enough to be seen in a thick harbor fog. She looked adorable and excited for the outing, and as I drove back over the hill towards our street, I was overcome thinking about how time rushes by a bit faster every year.
The remainder of the morning was filled with finishing my son’s second-grade science project. With our help, he made a paper mache viperfish, complete with a light that turns on and off. I don’t think there is anything much cuter than watching an eight year-old excitedly tackle a project like this. Admittedly, I was less than thrilled at the thought of a messy and cumbersome project, but in hindsight we had a ball doing it together. He loved assembling the light with my husband in the basement at the end, and proudly showed off the finished result.
My youngest was visibly perturbed by the amount of time and attention the science project was taking up, and channeled an inordinate amount of energy into being a nuisance. It’s hard to explain to a kindergartner that in two years it will be her turn to do a science project. In a slight act of desperation, I gave her a new package of paper dolls I had tucked away, and it was just the ray of sunshine she needed. It kept her smiling and content for the next two hours. The simultaneous beauty and audacity of children this age is that they constantly highlight something we all seek in life: the need to feel important.
My oldest returned from the girl scout outing just in time to get ready for her lacrosse game. She crumbled into a puddle, saying she was too hot and tired to go. My husband bribed her with the chance to stop and buy her own bottle of Gatorade on the way, and they were off. He later texted me, saying it was broiling on the field and there were no subs.
Meanwhile, I dropped my son off for 90 minutes of soccer try-outs (for those of you who know how I feel about THIS controversial topic, you’ll want to read my next post, coming soon). Gents in clipboards patiently awaited the chance to categorize eight and nine year-old boys into “good”, “better”, and “best” buckets. I wished him luck, tried not to think about what he was there for, and zipped up to Market Basket with my youngest to get a few things we needed for dinner.
Grocery shopping turned into a game of “Can we pleeeease get this, Mom?” which led to me feeling irritated and hot. The day was almost over, my day, our day, and I was standing in a check-out line justifying why I was not going to buy a pack of Rolos. A cashier who looked not the least bit excited to be doing her job asked me in a monotone voice if I’d be paying with debit or credit. I hurriedly pushed the over-sized cart, complete with a bench to seat three children, to the front of the line. My daughter had insisted on it, and feeling too frazzled to argue with her, I gave in. I had carefully steered it through each aisle, and it was so big that I felt like I was steering a 16-wheeler down a bowling alley. For a moment before entering my PIN, I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, “Calgon, take me away,” but realized that neither the 95-degree weather nor the gaggle of shoppers around me warranted such an outburst.
Later on, we gathered for dinner, our first time together all day. It was silly, fun, and peaceful all at once. My husband and I fluctuated between letting things slide and reprimanding awful manners. The stories and jokes were plentiful. As we finished up dinner, the kids were doubled over with laughter, repeating a favorite silly saying over and over, “Talk to the booty, ’cause the hand’s off duty!” This was made complete with at least one of them flashing us their adorable bum as they continued to giggle uncontrollably. My husband and I could only roll our eyes, look at each other, and feign disapproval. In reality, it’s pretty hard to get mad at kids who are so happy.
The day, like most, was gone in a flash. Yet there we were, together and content. Beloved husband, beautiful children, wonderful family. What more is there, really?
It made me thing of the quote from the cover of our wedding ceremony program:
“And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.” -Raymond Carver