Often at the end of the day, which I define as when I’m finished getting the last child I’m responsible for to sleep and can be any time between 8:30 and 10:30 depending on how things go, I take stock of the day that was.
While I’m doing this, I usually finish loading the dishwasher and start it up. I pick up a few toys or miscellaneous items off the floor. Maybe a doll or even a book we leave lying around to make guests think we read books. Sometimes I fold a load of laundry or shift wet clothes from the washer to the dryer. In other words, I do just enough so we don’t get buried under an avalanche of our own mess. So that the clutter doesn’t get so unruly that there is no hope of ever taming it.
During the light cleaning and contemplation portion of my day, I almost always come across something that makes me smile or shake my head. For example, one day recently, while I was rinsing dishes in the kitchen, I noticed there was an unexpected object in the bed where our chihuahuas sleep by the fireplace in the adjoining living room. My old, black chihuahua with white markings was curled up there, as he typically is, but beside him atop the pink blanket and distressed bathrobe the dogs claimed as their own many years ago was a blue and red fleece blanket wrapped around a cylindrical lump. I smiled, remembering that my four-year-old had wrapped his Flip-a-Zoo stuffed animal in the blanket and placed it there earlier in the day to nap.
Every night, there are always little things like that to remind me how much living we do each day. Well, more accurately perhaps, how much living my children do. It rained almost all day the day I found the swaddled stuffed animal. Mostly light drizzle, but with sudden cloudbursts when sheets of rain billowed down, buffeted by gusty winds. The gutters on the front of our house overflowed in spots, dumping what amounted to buckets of water onto the ground below. Not to be deterred, all three kids rushed outside to play when a particularly heavy squall came through. They crouched together by the gutter downspout at the corner of the house, digging with their fingers in the black muddy puddles. They gathered up empty plastic water bottles and a yogurt container from the recycling bin, collected water as it gushed out of the metal pipes, and ferried the water from random place to random place. They ran down to the end of the driveway, stopped for a moment to admire the small rivulet forming at the edge of the street, and turned around to race back toward the house, their bare feet slapping the puddles on the wet driveway, kicking up splashes of water with each step.
Summer days are long, of course, with no school and seemingly endless daylight. So, even with the outside water play, there was plenty of downtime spent doing nothing other than watching mindless cartoons on TV. Hours on end. Through it all, I puttered around, doing my best to maintain my position in middle management. I cleaned up spills, changed wet clothes, swept up dirt, fetched drinks and snacks and maybe even what could pass as an actual meal, and killed off the rest of the time while the kids were occupied by browsing through my phone or reading a book on my kindle.
That’s kind of how it is these days. Maybe there could be more, but a lot of times life right now is a lot of waiting around and just getting by. For me, especially, but also for the kids. They do plenty of living, yes, but we all do a lot of watching and waiting. And I think that’s okay. I hope that’s okay. After all, doing things is so tiring. Surely, we deserve to sit back for an hour or six (if we have the luxury) and watch the world go by, right?