Last week Friday Oliver didn’t have school (conferences; which, by the way, are the happiest of meetings during preschool.) and Monday Jessica didn’t have school (records day) but Tuesday? Was a snow day.
Last week was a redo of 2008-2010. Aaron worked literally all week, day and night and then the entire weekend, while I was home with the kids. Doing pick up and drop off. Dinner, bath’s and bedtime stories. It was a solo-act. I was solo-drowning. My attitude was supportive of Aaron (because that guy can rock a work week) and because he’s kind of fun to hang out with. The kids love him, like crazy-mad. And I still get butterflies when he looks at me. We’re that gross these days.
Aaron woke me up Tuesday morning with news of the snow day and at first I just didn’t believe him. He likes to joke around so I thought he was teasing me. But he wouldn’t let up. He kept saying it, No, Jodi – school’s canceled. Jessica has a snow day.
And I started crying.
Last night we went out to eat with friends – in the middle of the first blizzard of the year, we got a sitter and drove across town to eat hanger flank steak and share a bottle of wine. We sat inside a pub, six people crowding around a table for four, next to the window while the wind blew outside and the snow danced in the lights of the cars passing by.
We had great conversations, told our dreams out-loud and happy-clapped in collaboration when our friends’ dreams were a new and exciting version of the one we’ve been scheming for years.
We talked about parenthood; me – about motherhood. And I answered questions and confessed where I couldn’t stand it and they helped me see me differently. I stay busy, creative, I keep my kids in projects and art and we’re always knee deep in paint or paper … because that’s how I do it.
You’ve asked me before: that’s how. It’s not because I’m the best mom in the world (far from it), it’s because this is what it takes for me to be alive at the end of the day, for my kids to be breathing at bedtime. It’s how we get through the day.
Crayons, stains, t-shirts, colorful food, homemade meals, bubbles, adventures, highs and lows. One ride at a time on the tilt-a-whirl of parenthood. One exhilarating ticket at a time.
And like most parents, I can collect all the words I’ve screamed and all the tempers I’ve lost. I can calculate the damage of not hearing something correctly or dolling out the wrong punishment to the wrong transgressor. I can sum up my valuation as a parent and it always equals = less. Less than I had hoped for. Always less than I had dreamed.
Until I look through my tears and I see their smiles. Their oblivion to my shortcomings. Their complete peace at the snow falling around them and the quiet calm of a winter day.
Turns out I still don’t know what I’m doing and that when Oliver hits full time school, I’ll probably still wonder what to do with my time. I’ve struggled with this for a while now. How am I going to be valuable after this phase of my life? And I don’t have to have an answer anymore.
I just need today. And sometimes, a bottle of Malbec over skewers on a winter night in the company of people who think I’ve done alright. Who often have lives I want, who look at mine, at me, and tell me the same thing.