I walk home from the corner on this cool morning. Brown leaves spin and twirl and float to the ground where they crunch delightfully under my feet. Two of the kids are on the bus, on their way to school. Ella is still in bed, and Henry has just run outside, in his jammies, yelling to me that he finished his homework and now he’s going to play his ds. Alrighty then.
It is unmistakably November here in Virginia. The gray trees painted with lichen are nearly bare now, but for those few brown leaves yet to make their breaks on the wind. The air is cool. The clouds are gray and low and cover our little town in a cozy fluff. Shades of gray. I love November.
I spend the morning cooking spaghetti sauce and meatballs. Ella dips her egg in ketchup (ew). She watches Monsters inc. She loves Mike. I know most of the lines in that movie. She thinks it’s funny when I imitate Roz (I’m watching you Wazowski…). I have to agree.
After breakfast, we play Caribou and go fish. We get dressed. We brush teeth. I clean up the kitchen. Contentedness fills me up.
After lunch, Henry is off to school and Ella and I return to play. We do puzzles and sing abc’s. She is tired.
So the naptime routine begins. Close the shutters, turn on the fan, and the nightlight. Read two books. Olivia is her favorite these days. She calls her “ia.” We rock for a few minutes, and she — true to form — fights any type of snuggle I try to provide. I sigh, and tuck her in bed.
She delays. She names all of her dogs. All of her cats. All of her babies. The lamb. And the bear. I must repeat the names after her or the fussing ensues. I realize I am enabling the behavior to continue, thank you. I covertly remove a few of the aforementioned beings from the bed, kiss night-night, and slip out.
This is the time of the day that is (supposed to be) my own. A brief 90 minutes of whatever-I-want. That usually tends to be laundry or cleaning or something of that nature, but I can do it uninterrupted and in the quiet. Today, I planned to sit and pay the bills with a hot cup of tea and a soft, fluffy blanket. I wanted to look out the window and into the deep of those lichen-covered trees. You can see the landscape clearly now that the leaves have fallen…the hills and the ravines and the fallen trees. I wanted, today, to enjoy this beautiful gray.
Ella, unfortunately, is not having any of the nap. The third time I go in there, I finally understand. Her nose is running. She is a prickly mess.
And so I scoop her up. She says “miss you, Mommy.” She sweeps the hair from her face, and this time she relaxes in my arms. She drifts off to sleep so quickly that I want it to slow down. I hold her, and I watch her sleep. I watch her eyelids flutter, and I hear her little snuffly breaths puff in and out.
And I love her so deeply that I can hardly stand it.