With a decided danger of sounding like Garfield, the cartoon cat, Mondays, ugh. Am I right? Normally, I don’t raise too much of a kick about them, as my workweek is a bit skewed and Monday, to me, is actually my second day off. Tuesdays, though….
Today, however, is rough. I am exhausted. Let me give you a little tip; if you happen to stumble upon a cache of home movies at 11:00 at night on a Sunday, do NOT, for the love of God, put one in the computer. Not even if they aren’t labeled terribly clearly and you just want “a quick peek”, you know, for organizational purposes. They will inevitably be of your children at a wee, heart-squeezing age and you will be compelled to watch them all until you are weeping into the hem of your bathrobe and bleating “Sunrise, sunset” into the darkness. You will toss in your bed, filled with a determination to clutch them to your maternal bosom at first light, showering them with kisses and assurances that they are the most precious, special lights on the whole planet, before falling into a fitful sleep….
….only to wake the next morning to their abrupt demands for a clean sweatshirt! A check for the field trip! and criticisms of the hot breakfast you have uncharacteristically provided. Before long you will dash to your bedroom, lean your back against the door and wonder aloud how long, exactly, until these monsters leave for school?!!
This is the most perplexing and exhausting mystery of my adult life. Nothing else requires as much energy as navigating this pull toward and away from the joy and demands of parenthood. The children on those videos? Oh, my heart! They are perfect. I sincerely hope heaven is just one, big squishy couch where we can flop, piggy pile style and watch Bear in the Big Blue House and The Muppet Show for all eternity. I can not imagine anything better. The longing for those past days makes me a tad weepy, I will not lie. So why, then, do I forget, seemingly every blessed moment, that these children, the ones RIGHT HERE, are the very same people? Still as precious. Still shining as bright. Still filled with all the potential and love that I remember beaming out of their faces when they were oh, so little?
Of course, I didn’t know it then, either, did I? Or, I did, but I would forget, same as now. How many grocery store temper tantrums, sleepless nights, and defiant battle-of-wills did it take in any given day to inoculate me against their charms? What a dope I am. Boy, are we lucky to have each other, no matter how many clean sweatshirts I have to schlep down to the laundry room to get. In cases like this, I always think of a time a few years back. We were in Ethiopia, riding through the countryside and my oldest son turned to me and said;
“Mom. I’m doing it all wrong. We’re just sitting here and I should be like this; AAAAAAAH! (flails arms overhead) AFRICA! AAAAAAAAH! (flails) AFRICA!!!!!”
No, kid. I’M doing it all wrong. Every damn day I should be “AAAAAH! My freaking fabulous, fortunate life!!!!!” But for whatever reason, we humans don’t seem to be wired that way. Probably there is a good reason. If we allowed ourselves to be overcome with the tender fragility and miraculousness of our lives we probably couldn’t get on much with our days. Undoubtedly bills would not get paid. Very possibly commerce would grind to a halt. There is a chance our hearts would flat-out explode. I guess the best we can hope for are these periodic moments of lucidness, when we are filled both with an overpowering love and a profound sense of loss, reminding us, just for a second, that amidst the toast crumbs and lost mittens and bank statements, something fairly wonderful is going on.