My Life In Small Pieces
It's 6:00a.m. and my alarm is making that relentless music that demands to be shut off as quickly as possible. I switch on a light and sit up in bed, blinking my dry eyes repeatedly in hopes they will stay open without too much fight. I slide out of bed and into whatever clothes are decent enough to be seen by other bus stop parents. Then I slip out the bedroom door and shuffle over to the kitchen, turning lights on as I go.
6:45 a.m. and the boys are mostly ready by now. Their bus arrives around 7 a.m. but we like having a 10-minute window. There's a mad scramble for matching socks, finding shoes not put away properly, deciding how many layers to wear on a chilly morning that will eventually steam off into a humid afternoon. I am wide awake now, and already knowing that goal of going back to bed after the kids leave will not be achieved. There is too much to do. Always.
8:00 a.m. my daughter has shrugged on her heavy backpack and trudged up the hill to wait for the bus. Once upon a time it came exactly at 8:08 every morning. Then one day out of the blue it came at 7:50. The bus situation is such a fickle beast I have spent many an afternoon weeping over it. For the sake of my peace of mind, she now only rides it in to school.
9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. I have no daily routine; it's more like a weekly rhythm I'm figuring out slowly. Some days I grocery shop. Some I do baking. Some laundry. I go to Tae Kwon Do class twice a week whenever I'm healthy. I take one or two 20-minute power naps for energy. I work Wednesday mornings, and Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday evenings. I call it my "fibromyalgia hours." It's only 12-15hrs/wk and it's all I can manage. I'm in childcare because of how flexible it is. It suits our current needs on many points. I value what I do and I am valued in return. It's not THE dream, but it's a decent interim. The traffic has me rethinking my timing choices, though.
Hello 3:00 p.m.! I have gotten two children off the bus and am on my way to pick up the third. My days of having kids all in one school are over. I wait in the serpentine car line with a bunch of other exhausted and mildly grumpy parents from 3:00-3:30 every weekday now. I am learning to appreciate podcasts and audiobooks like never before. I sometimes bring lunch if I've prepped something Whole30ish and not had the time to eat it yet. I enjoy the relative calm of being stuck in a car with nowhere to go for a bit.
5:00 p.m. just crops up out of nowhere. Everyone has gotten home, settled, finished with homework, involved in a project. We start to talk about what's for dinner. We become the most happily boring people on the planet. Or the sleepiest. Both, I guess. It's really just all about the relief of being done with all the running around for the day except for the occasional need to satisfy an ice cream craving.
7:00 p.m. arrives. The kids will soon make their lunches for the next day. We'll swiftly enter that zone where everyone is surprised it is bedtime and loudly protests the unfairness of it all. Toothpaste will paint the bathroom sink a few shades lighter. Lego will be stepped on. CLothes will be strewn. Petty sibling fights are imminent.
9:00 p.m. is when I have my daily existential crisis. What am I really doing with my life? Are we where we need to be? Will I ever get a house and land, garden, pets, and will it happen before my kids are grown? Will we have enough left over to travel? Am I stuck in a cycle of living only for the future? Do I really have to plan my next 10 years around the kids' education? Am I ready to homeschool again or am I still too unhinged? (By this time, it's always the latter.) Remember what a hobby is? Nevermind, I'm too tired.
Somehow in the snatches between the necessities and the urgencies, the holidays and celebrations, I write poetry. I build mini-gardens. I check in with friends: "Are you okay? Life is too much lately. Can we hold each other up with our words? Our actions? Our political choices? Our values? Our compassion? Can we study what it means to love mercy? Love people? Love?" I try to believe in what I am creating- believe it is making a lasting impression on what it is to exist, to find meaning. I look for magic, for stardust, for hope, for good. I cry. I bleed. I swear. I cheer. I love intensely. I feel everything. I am trying to celebrate it all and not miss any of it. I try too hard and I hope that's not offensive because I'm about to turn 39 and the me that I am is pretty constant even if the details, values, and circumstances shift.
I'm here. That's what I offer. That's what I can always offer. I can't hand anyone a fixed solution, a reason to work, a path to walk, a purpose to pursue. Just a hand, a heart, and a presence. Occasionally, perhaps, a motivation. (Or a heated debate. Raise your hand if you've encountered the nostril-flaring side of me, lol!) But we must all eventually be our own authors of what we do and where we go and how we relate and why we are still dancing here in the rain pelting down on this tired ground while the picture we first drew is washing away, forever changing the landscape. And in all these chaotic pieces, offer our own unique and sacred peace.