It's Sunday night. Ben is watching The Eewok Adventure with Milo. Elliott is slowly walking in circles, picking up different toys or pieces of clothing and shaking them until he finds something better. He skipped an afternoon nap and is exhausted. Milo looks five years old in Ben's lap. I made it to the end of the day without showering, but I've been working on a hard cider since well before sundown. This weekend I got to read a lot. I grocery shopped. We did things as a family, and took the boys with us on solo errands. We made tents in mama and daddy's bed, and folded clothes, and ate pancakes together at the table on Saturday night. Lunches are packed for tomorrow. When the boys are sleeping, we'll order take out and watch the Oscars and fight to stay awake until the end. And then we'll fall asleep and do the whole thing over again: workweek, weekend, month after month, year after year.
Written this way, it seems perfect, but it was a little messy and boring, too. Ben and I argued about Portland, Oregon. There were a few times where the chaos of giggling fun was too big to be contained and people bumped heads or elbows and there were tears. A picture on Instagram made me angry with myself that I keep putting off finding swimming lessons for the boys. I spent too long reading the titles in the parenting section of Barnes and Noble and had a panic attack about not being The Parent I Wanted to Be, but it was remarkable how quickly that feel went away once I physically removed myself from the area. That's growth.
In the end, the two paragraphs above squish together and become a perfect metaphor for our whole lives right now. It's not weekend getaways or cool home improvements or bars or shows or travel. I'd like some of those things, but it's not the time. At this instant, which is really just a split second in the big picture of a live well lived, we're just keeping it together. I want to be more spontaneous and adventure more, but I also know that my life runs much, much better when I stick to a routine. Lesson plans weren't troubling this week because THEY ARE WRITTEN ON THURSDAY NIGHT/FRIDAY MORNING, FOREVER AND EVER AMEN. Packing lunches and dinner happen without fail because they happen at the same time every night. Pizza is always on Thursdays and a crock pot is always on Tuesday. It's not exciting, but it keeps my head on straight.
I remind myself to be patient. It's a lot of work to have a one-year-old and a two-year-old. It's a lot of work to have full time jobs and two classes and try to maintain a marriage and maybe a social life in the three freaking seconds that remain. We're far from the only family to ever have so much on our shoulders, so I know that I have good company in trenches, making it work. One day, my intrepid family and I will hop trains and planes and automobiles and explore this country and other countries, too. We'll throw caution to the wind and go see movies late on a Wednesday night, pack lunches in the morning as we're running out the door, skip school and go get ice cream sundaes. Our time will come. For now, to survive, and to remember how to thrive, we'll vacation gently, weekend slowly, and trust the boringly ordinary days to get us through.