Yesterday was a good day. Not that it was perfect. Because it was not.
Kate and I came home from our fancy hotel stay and went to Mass with the family. This is something we are trying desperately to enjoy. However, it is never quite as enjoyable as I think it is going to be. Somehow, in a week’s time, I forget how miserable I was at Mass the Sunday before, and I delude myself into thinking that it is going to be so nice to go to Mass all together, with the boys in their khakis, and the girls in their dresses, and we are all going to be happy and holy together. And then Sunday morning comes, and William complains about having to wear khakis. And Ella complains about me brushing her hair. And then we get to Mass. And the complications begin nearly immediately, with someone complaining about where they have to sit, and someone touching someone else’s book, and someone whose legs are so, so sore that they just can’t possibly kneel. And I tell them that if they don’t kneel, that another part of them is going to be so, so sore that they won’t be able to sit. (I actually don’t say that, but I heartily think it.)
On this particular day, we didn’t even last until communion. I walked swiftly out of there, with Ella behind me crying (as loudly as possible, I think) “No Mommy! No Mommy! Nooooooo!” Like I was going to beat her or something. Sheesh.
So we get outside. I realize that I don’t have the car keys, and it’s too stinkin hot to sit in the car without it running, so we stand there. There is a statue of the Virgin Mary to the side, and I decide to take Ella there and maybe the Virgin Mary will spread some grace over her (that is possible, right?). People have left money there. People have left flowers at her feet. I look at her face, and kneel down to pray. I showed Ella how to fold her hands, and together we prayed Hail Mary. I prayed for patience, and grace. I nearly wept about how lovely my life is, even when it seems so frustrating.
We finally made it home, and The Man made lunch. I ate peanuts. Isn’t that a healthy lunch? Then I put sunblock on all the kids and we headed to the pool. There was of course the usual bellyaching about the sunblock that takes 40 minutes to apply to four children, and the usual dash for towels. William must be certain that he gets a striped towel and not a polka-dotty one. Heaven forbid he have to dry off with a polka-dotty towel.
I wondered about my life. I spent a lot of time wondering, this day. Did we make the right choices? Are we doing a good job? When one of the children sass us, is it because we don’t spank them? Maybe we should spank them. Maybe we should put soap in their mouths. Maybe hot sauce (someone once told me to try that…). I wondered if we would regret not travelling more…not eating out more…
I watched the kids swimming with their friends. I watched the dads playing with the kids in the water. I sat with Ella on the pool steps. There was music playing at the lifeguard stand. Mostly some awful country songs (I’m not a fan, sorry), but Ella was enjoying it. She danced.
“I love your dancing, Ella.”
“Oh, thank you, Mommy.”
I think in that little exchange many of my answers came.
We came home, put on some dry clothes, and went out into the woods to gather some branches for the fire pit. We roasted hot dogs over the fire. I served watermelon in chunks. No forks. The juice ran down their chins. It ran down to their elbows. It dripped on their shirts. I let them eat as many chips as they wanted. Together we drank an entire pitcher of lemonade.
Poor Ella was completely spent. So I took her inside to clean up in the bath. Is there nothing more wonderful than clean child, fresh from the bath? Wrapped in a warm towel, I held her and dried her. I brushed her hair, and then we read a little bit of Olivia, and she was asleep by 6:40.
When the others were finished with s’mores, they showered. Kate and I took turns reading Harry Potter to the boys. The Man and I tucked them in bed, and then we sat on the stoop together with a glass of wine. There was this funny little wren that has built a nest in my planter. Every time I water that planter, that little wren scares the pants off me. Every time. You would think that I’d learn, right? Anyway, we watched this little wren. We were clearly cramping her style, and making her very uneasy. We watched as small bats flew around the sky, swooping and climbing. We talked about how much bigger the bushes were than the last time we’d sat out on the stoop with a glass of wine. We decided that we would do this every Sunday, until it got too cold. And then maybe we’ll sit in front of the fire on cold Sunday evenings. Yes, I like that idea very much.
Sitting out there, I realized that there hasn’t been enough of this kind of day lately. The kind of day that we just play. The kind of day that life is just relaxed, and fun, and not rushed and critical and rigid. I know that can’t be every day. I know that chores still have to get done. I know that the kids can’t eat weenies and chips and s’mores and lemonade every night. I know. But maybe more frequently would be okay.
So, I’m unplugging for the remainder of August. We are going to play, dammit, if it kills me.
See you in September…