The gifts of an isolated day

Saturday, March 21, 2020

I wake up to a quiet house with sunlight peeking through the curtains in our bedroom. A quick kiss to my bearded, sleepy husband's cheek as he rolls over to say good morning with his eyes still closed knowing full well that he isn't due to get up for at least another hour. I pad down the steps to see all four kids strewn about the living room tangled up in blankets and pillows after another consistent night of 'kid campout' while watching Netflix until who knows what time last night. The solace that fills my heart as I start the coffeepot knowing that every person in our family is right here in this house, under this roof, sleeping soundly is all my mother's heart can dream of.

I am still teaching, so I sip hot coffee while getting my google classroom announcements and assignments set up for the day; so grateful to still have any kind of contact with my students during this strange and scary time. I think of them at home bored, confused, worried and I wish I could see their faces and bring normal routine to their days - but at least for this tiny bit of connection despite distance. I start breakfast as my own kids stretch and yawn and lazily walk around in wrinkled jammies and bedhead. We get to start slow and kiss Daddy goodbye for his three hour modified work day.

we pull the homework cart into the kitchen and do some worksheets and the big kids help the little kids with cutting and everyone wants to show their work and Grey likes best to make worksheets for me that he can correct which is like homework backwards but still practicing he if he doesn't realize it. Gem likes to finish her school work with a read aloud to the babies while they sit on the floor and she can pause to ask comprehension questions and try out different voices for her characters.

We play outside a lot, breathing in fresh air and getting muddy shoes that track marks all through the house. Violet has adopted three pet worms that live in a tupperware container in our dining room that we feed vegetable scraps to as a makeshift mini compost bin. Rusty finds sticks that look like swords or shovels, Gemma brings the Alexa outside to dance and ride her hoverboard, and Grey moves his trailcam or takes his BB gun to the woods, or begs the other kids to play tackling games on the trampoline. We build fires in the firepit and carry around water bottles and share shoes, coats, hats, and snacks. It is a slow paced kind of life that stretches on and on. We break it up with lunch all together and then all pitch in to clean up the house a little bit before Dad gets home.

The kids are getting so much quality time with their Dad. He's always been a more kind of Dad; more silly, more fun, more relaxed, more hugs, more patience. But in normal life, he logs a lot of time with our biggest boy because of sports, outdoor hobbies, and ease of mobility. But now everyone is getting so much Daddy and if he wasn't already the favorite parent (he was), he is legendary at this point. Strong enough to lift a car said Rusty, Can fix anything broken said Violet, Can take a joke said Gemma and Greyson.

I answer emails and student questions, work through normal household chores, and even though I can't say that I'm ahead of laundry - it does feel like I'm on pace with laundry which is a practical miracle in itself. When I can feel the worries creeping in about those we love, and how and when this baby brother will be born, and what the rest of the school year will look like, and when anything might return to what normal used to look like - I find myself itching to bake and make something that will fill my family's bellies with sweetness and delight. It's more mess, but it makes me feel connected to my grandma who raised five kids. Planning out our meals, being creative with leftovers and what we have in the pantry, and making real food gives me a sense of control; no matter how false or small, it gives me something to hold on to while everything else spins around our home on this mountaintop.

We've been getting a rare, honest look into our kids. Life moves so fast and there is always so much to do that most days I collapse into bed going over which kid I held or looked into their eyes or asked a real question to about their days. And now, I feel like everyday holds little pockets of seeing our kids, really seeing and hearing and touching them. They are relieved and walk with a lightness, not just because it feels like one long string of playing hooky - but because there's no nothing to do for them and almost for their parents either. We are here and present and not distracted. We have no practices or games to rush to, no homework or studying that needs done by tomorrow that we forgot until the last minute, no rush through the weekend to try to make up chores that never got done during the week because we were too tired after work and activities.

I find kids napping in odd places and at odd times, I pick up socks from everywhere, there are knocks on the bathroom door while I'm in the shower, we put puzzles together and color and play board games. we remind about talking with our mouth full of food, and leaving dirty dishes all over the house, and putting dirty clothes in the laundry basket. Kids of all sizes squeeze in next to us on chairs and couches, the walk by with a rub of my belly and their baby brother. I ask Alexa to turn down the volume about 30 times a day.

Dinner is with everyone at the table, lots of times with kid hands helping to prepare. It is loud and it is messy. The kids almost always finish first which means Brandon and I get graced with a dinnertime show that has Alexa blasting music (I Feel Good by James Brown, and Roll On Big Mamma by Joe Stampley are the current favorites) and all four kids doing crazy dance moves or chasing each other around the circle of the house.

The kids bring down their sleeping supplies and stake out their spots in the living room. As they settle in for movies and sleep. Sometimes Brandon and I watch with them for a little. Most times Rusty finds his way up to our room to ask for 'someping to eat wike toast?' Each night, my pregnancy insomnia finds me downstairs in search of Tums and a drink of water and tucking little toes under blankets, turning off the tv that is still on despite everyone asleep, and pushing hair out of their faces that still resemble baby cheeks from years gone by too fast.

And then I'm back in bed, snuggled in close to this boy I've loved for so long with the knowledge that tomorrow will be clear of places to go and commitments to keep. It will just be these little people that need us to kiss booboos and refill cups and remind them to brush their teeth. Another day that stretches before us as far as the horizon.

It's life in a bubble here in our house filled with mess and sounds and giggles and tears and snuggles. It feels like a snapshot in time and I don't know how long we will get to live in this suspended life, but what a gift it is to my mother's heart to have all my children under this one roof within my reach and earshot. I get to spend my days listening to their whispers and giggles and answering questions that surprise me. It's all the things I love most about being a mom in a slow as molasses kind of a way.

by no means can I pretend this it is not an overwhelming and frightening time.
I understand how dire it has to be for this kind of upheaval to standard operating procedure of life. How unsure everything feels right now.
And yet, little blessings abound
and I am so grateful to get this opportunity to live it right now with this man, and these kids as we navigate it together.

I can already feel that someday we will look back on this time and remember how we all were trapped together on this mountaintop while the world fell to pieces
but it didn't feel like a trap
and the world found a way to take all the pieces
and make an even more beautiful mosaic of itself

this post title was inspired by one of my favorite momma books: The Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison which I would always recommend. 

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