Life is absurd. And life is precious. Family is a lot of both.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Summertime -- in 15 Phrases

I really do love having all of my little ones home (from college to preschool) all summer. I do. I really do.

But I know what's coming:

Summer family memories are the best. (This was taken before a
two-hour ride in the car and after a stern warning about getting wet
since we had no dry clothes.)

1. There's nothing to eat in here.

2. Why do I have to go to bed when the sun is still up?

3. I don't need a bath, I played in the sprinkler.
Actually, skipping a bath after playing in soap and water is
completely justifiable.
4. We're just going to shoot off a few fireworks, but we'll be careful.

It's always fun until someone has to call the ambulance.

5. The car's out of gas.

6. I just mowed last week.

7. I can't find a job. No one's hiring.

8. I'm hungry. And so are my six friends who are with me.

You never know how many friends your kids have until it's
lunchtime on a summer day.

9. It's too hot to go outside.

10. I don't know who left the water hose on.

11. Mom, look! I'm pretty sure it's not poisonous.

12. Could you be a littler quieter in the morning? I'm trying to sleep in.

Okay, it's hard to stay irritated for long
when they look like sleeping angels.

13. My teacher was nicer than you.

14. But why can't we go to Disney World? Whywhywhywhywhywhywhy?

15. I'm bored. Wait, what? I didn't say I'm bored. Noooooo!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dear Graduates

How many times in the last few days have you said, “I can’t believe it’s finally here!”? It’s finally your turn to wear the funny hats and process in with your class and listen to the speeches and cross the stage and wave your diploma and smile for a million photos. It’s The Class of 2014, baby, and no one is more excited than you…baby.

What you see.
 Please understand that though you are tall and mature and practically grown up in every way, all we really see as you’re walking that stage is a bunch of babies. Preschoolers. Gap-toothed elementary students. Awkward middle schoolers. Eager freshmen. Anything but the adults you just turned into while we blinked.

What I see.
We may cry. You’ll just have to try to understand. What’s happening on Sunday is a milestone. You’re a smart bunch so you can easily define milestone. The thing is, when it’s your own milestone you can recognize and celebrate it. But you keep on moving forward so it’s quickly behind you and you are focused on something new ahead. For those who love you, who have raised you, it’s a marker that boldly proclaims, “Things will never the same.” Ever.

You were tiny once. Then you crawled and we put away the dangerous things. Then you walked and we locked the cabinets and doors. Then you ran and we bought more bandaids. This was about the time you let go of our hands and went to school for the first time. You learned to read and didn’t ask us for bedtime stories quite as often. Then you started playing sports or joined clubs and you quit coming home right after school. Then you learned to drive and, well, we wondered aloud sometimes if you even still lived here. (Your full laundry hamper and our empty pantry shelves assured us you were still in residence even if we never saw you.)

These were all good things. Of course we wanted you to grow and become and do the things you were meant to do. So we celebrated each new milestone with a smile and a cheer. But as each one passed, we realized those milestones were scattered along a path that was taking you away. “Things will never be the same.” the milestones declared. And we wept while we cheered.

Which is exactly what we will do on Sunday.  You just grew up. And in many wild and wonderful ways, things will never be the same.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Space Invaders

We live in a pretty regular-sized house on a regular-sized lot. I am very content with our little spot in the city limits. However, other family members lobby occasionally to move “out in the country” because some want horses, chickens, gardens big enough to justify a tractor, and would like to walk out to get the mail wearing only underwear and mud boots.

Or, maybe, just boots.

I’d be okay with all of that but I have a hard time getting enthusiastic about the idea of a bigger place. It’s not that I don’t love the beauty of nature and the gorgeous views and the quiet isolation. I really enjoy visiting the homes of my friends who live on acreage. There is a serenity to the sweeping lawns, tree-lined lanes, and glimpses of wildlife out the kitchen window.

The issue is knowing that even acres and acres of home land will do nothing to add to the actual space in which I get to live. My children are, frankly, like a swarm of gnats. Where I go, they go. Swatting at them just stirs them up. Never mind that they have plenty of square footage in which to spread out and enjoy. It seems they prefer to be right next to me. Always.

Take our master bedroom. It is a small, cozy room just the right size for a bed, two comfy chairs and a table, a couple of bookcases and a dresser. I love this room and how it feels like a retreat for us from the busy, noisy world. My children, unfortunately, also love it. Age 2 to 21, their favorite spot is on the end of my bed, snuggled in our soft green comforter. They all have soft, comfy beds of their own. But they prefer to hang out in ours until kicked out. Our master bath is small-ish too. But I regularly find myself trying to curl or straighten or rinse and spit with more than one child underfoot. This in spite of the fact that they have two bathrooms to share between them. Gnats, I tell you.

I have one tiny spot at the end of our dining table that is my work space. I don’t have an actual office because all those soft, comfy beds and extra bathrooms take up a lot of room. My “office” is truly about five square feet of chair, table top, and a few small piles. Because of those piles and the various computer cords, I prefer to keep two- and four-legged creatures out of my little corner. I think this is not too much to ask. But my 2-year-old and our dogs seem to think that particular corner is prime play space. If my feet are not being used as mountains for various Matchbox cars, my power cord is being yanked out by tussling puppies. I cannot understand why these creatures have the entire house and yard in which to play (that’s where ALL THE TOYS ARE, by the way) yet prefer to play practically in my lap all day long.

It's been this way for years.
Maybe if we moved out to the country I could find a place to hide and get some work done Who am I kidding? They’d find me and come running. Very likely wearing only rubber boots and underwear.