Monday morning. 7 a.m. EST. Sparrows chirp outside my window. It’s too early for damn chirping birds.
“Mom, you gotta wake up. Ben and I had a food fight,” Jim urges in his shatter-glass voice.
“Huh? What? Why? You what?”
“Threw Frosted Flakes on each others’ heads.”
“Huh? What? Why?” I groan, shifting my weight off my throbbing hip, “Why?”
“I don’t know. Sorry mom.”
Spring Break? Spring Break is a misnomer. I break out the vacuum cleaner and gripe until Ben wraps his arms around he and with a soulful look in his eyes exclaims, “I love you Mama! I’m sorry!” My mouth turns up, first on the left side, and then on the right. I grin and hug him back.
2:53 p.m. “For the seventh time, get in the truck NOW.” I holler, exasperated. I do not answer Jim’s question about our trip to the dentist. I am too busy avoiding the colorful line of bicycles parked in the middle of the driveway. Damn. One of these days I am going to take out the mailbox. I contemplate if taking three kids to the dentist on a azure-blue sky Spring day is such a sane idea.
4:37 p.m. My husband stands in front of the kitchen sink with paper towels and a plastic container. “Did you know what they were doing outside, El?” I make my face look innocent and mumble, “No?” Madeline runs into the kitchen yelling, “Ew, get the boys away from me! They reek of suntan lotion.” Travis sets his suit jacket down and shakes his head. “Um, they sprayed suntan lotion all over one another and all over your truck. So now they’re going to clean it.” I say very little but I ask my husband for a hug and I curl into him and he rests his head on my shoulder and we still fit just right.
7:30 p.m. We walk the children until they drop, or so we threaten. It only takes an hour of walking and as we patter along, we reminisce about the time a couple of years ago the boys broke out the Ben-Gay. Unfortunately they did not wash their hands before they used the bathroom and then raced, yowling like cats into the bathtub.
11 p.m. I lay beside my husband and with much tenderness we talk about his day and modern politics and the media. And he tickles me the whole time he talks in his rolling, gentle voice until he has no more words and then he just lays beside me and I listen to his heart beat and feel his fingers on my neck and I thank God for the small things. But wait! This is too peaceful.
Tuesday morning. 7 a.m. “Mama! You gotta wake up. The bottom of the bucket broke and . . .” My head jerks up. I remember the time Ben and Jim sunk the titanic in the downstairs bathroom sink and the water exploded into a maelstrom of suds and mess and spilled on the floor. And then I smile, relieved. My daughter is talking about the blue bucket hanging from the maple tree, which contains a potion of some sorts. I grumble, “Come wake me in an hour. It’s too early.”
8:05 a.m. The garage door slams. My eyes flip wide open. I hear the sound of children laughing and yelling. I walk to the window and peer through the blinds and try to make sense of what I see. Three children run up and down the sidewalk in front of my home pulling suitcases. And then I look more closely. I recognize those children. They look a hell of a lot like me. And then one of them spots me and smirks at me. He is of course one of my children.
Spring Break is indeed a misnomer.
© April 3, 2012