Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The lows and the highs

The worst times are when they're tired and constantly bickering, or, for some reason, on weekday mornings, right when I announce that it's time to put on socks and shoes and get in the car so I can take them to school.

Without fail, even on days when they have woken up in good moods and have fully cooperated in the eating-breakfast-getting-dressed process -- which is not a given -- as soon as I announce it's time to get in the car, all hell breaks loose.  Josie will announce that the outfit she has been cheerfully wearing for half an hour is no longer acceptable, or she will insist on putting on the one pair of shoes that I can't find.  Zeke will hem and haw and dawdle, or demand that we wait until he can find a particular book or stuffed animal, which no one has seen in months, to take with him in his backpack. I will explain, with a vocal level that rises along with that of my annoyance, that we don't have time and you're not allowed to bring toys to school anyway and you can't wear sandals when it's snowing and we need to get moving and we're going to be late and GET IN THE CAR THIS INSTANT!  RIGHT NOW!!  MOVE IT!

It is so. fucking. frustrating.

And the messes.  The endless, unyielding messes that always seem to grow no matter how much time J and I spend cleaning.  Going upstairs and finding little spots of baby powder at various places along the hallway carpet.  Or "I love momma" written in black sharpie on the bright glossy white door to the kids' bedroom.  Or the entire contents of the linen closet piled at the foot of my bed, which they use as cushioning when they're jumping.  An entire box of colored drinking straws inexplicably emptied into the bathtub.  Toilets constantly full of little turds because they never remember to flush.

And I'm not a particularly neat person.  I try to be, but it doesn't come to me naturally.  I am naturally cluttery (but clean).  But even my tolerance for clutter is tested by the constant chaotic state of my house.  When the kids are bickering (and lately, it's pretty often - a function of their ages, I guess) and the piles of dishes and laundry feel endless and I'm discovering yet another stick figure drawn in pen on the wall of the dining room, my level of agita gets to the point that all I want to do is go check into a hotel (anywhere - it could be in the middle of nowhere and I'd be happy if there was free wi-fi) and be by myself and not talk to anyone.

But then there are the moments when Zeke and I are up late on a weekend watching a movie after everyone has gone to sleep.  He's standing there naked, coloring a picture for me while telling me about all the words he can spell.  Every once in a while, he'll look at me and smile and say, "I love you, Mama."

And he's such a beautiful kid - twinkly blue eyes, spray of freckles across his nose, the same funky point at the base of his hairline that I have. That dimple.  His muscle-y little body.

He's got a hilarious sense of humor, and loves to tell me jokes to try to make me laugh.  He's sweet to his friends and to his sister (some of the time).  He's interested in the world.  He's incredibly social - much more so than I am - and is friendly and open with everyone.

And Josie is similarly delightful.  Impossibly cute, with a penchant for knock-knock jokes that make no sense but are nonetheless hysterical.  She has my bizarre memory for all things aural - she can remember songs, movie lines, books that she has heard only once, and recite them back.  I'll take her in my arms like a baby and tell her about the day she was born, and talk about how when she was born, I made a wish that she would be smart and funny and brave and beautiful and sweet, and that she has surpassed my wildest dreams.

They both have.

I was thinking about our upcoming beach trip with my family, and about how much they both love those vacations, when they spend all day running and playing the sand and swimming, and we go every night to get ice cream after dinner, and do puzzles and read books and watch movies.  And then they collapse, happy and tan and exhausted.
Beautiful children, made more beautiful by being asleep after a long, fun day at the beach.
Those times sustain me.  Because right now, I could use a hotel room to myself.  But I can wait for the beach.

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