Today I got up early enough to shower before waking the girls. Two get on the bus at 7:00 a.m.; the other started attending a before-school program at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. And then school was closed Tuesday, and then again Wednesday, because of the storms. After my shower, with drippy hair and a cup of coffee in my hand, I started the rounds: Time to get going, I said to middle child who responded, as she generally does, slowly, yet surely. Downstairs I trotted (well, not exactly, as a woman of my stature truly doesn’t trot) to wake oldest child, who responded, as she generally does, not at all. Time to get moving, I said, again, and she said something resembling human speech…I think. At which point I snapped on the overhead light (which will not be so effective once the days get longer), and I did see movement.
Back upstairs, I tried to rouse youngest child, who whinnied and whined and then called me back in to say “my stomach really hurts.” She has to say “really” because she got caught languishing once this year. So, the last time she told me she was ill, I forced her to go, only to be called by the school 10 minutes into the school day because she had, well, let’s just say the proof of her tummy-ache left a stain in the third-grade classroom. So, I didn’t know whether to believe her or not this morning. I made her get up and walk around; try a piece of toast. I took her temperature and it was a little high, but not much. But through all this, I wasn’t very nice. At all. When I mentioned that if she stayed home she would miss her snowed-out Valentine’s Day party and she barely muttered, I was finally convinced, albeit grudgingly, that she was “actually” sick.
I called in “sick kid” to work after calling in “snow day” for two days straight–being the invisible employee gets very, very old.
So I grumbled and mumbled and then sunk into the quiet of a kid too sick for TV and the other two gone. It hadn’t been like that for two solid days and I heartily enjoyed it. To fill the void, though, the kittens decided to chase each other loudly from one end of the house to the other, hurtling over couches and skiddering across tables (they aren’t supposed to be on in the first place).
The other two girls came home at noon because, even though school was closed for two days, we cannot NOT have the four-and-a-half-day President’s weekend already scheduled.
And here’s where the gratitude part starts in: I’m still in a grumbly kind of mood. And one kitten is sitting atop the kitty-condo in front of the window, soaking up the sun, and I bend down to pet her and marvel at her magnificent multi-colored self and I remember what I said to one of my children when she was eschewing the existence of the rest of us not very long ago.
So, here’s what I told her, sort of: I told her how grateful I was for my family, even though there are days when I don’t really want to be around them much. I told her because I did live a while all on my own, I remember what that was like, coming home to an empty house day after day after day. Well, there were the cats; and those extra special cockroaches they have in the Phoenix area that are the size of mutant Ninja turtles. But for the most part, it was me and TV and the cats. Which wasn’t all bad, and there are days when I still romanticize about those lazy, single days, because they weren’t all that bad. Nor were they all that good, either.
But what I told my daughter that day she hated me and anyone with shared DNA is that it is exactly because I remember those days that I’m grateful–mostly–for these days. I like coming home to a house full of dishes (dirty and not), clothes (dirty and not), and kids (mostly dirty), and activity much more interesting than the scuttling of those monstrous roaches. Even though it is often too much–that activity, that mess, that … life.
It’s too trite, isn’t it? Too cliche? I know; I can’t help it. But when I bent down to schmooze with my kitten in the sun, it all came up again, this well of gratitude for all of it–even this mess and disarray.
So a kid is sick and work gets pushed off one more day. If I were single, if I was married and had no children, if any of this weren’t exactly as it is, well, a whole lot of things would be different, wouldn’t they? I could go to work every single day without fail, now couldn’t I? And when I came home, the house would look exactly as I left it (with the exception of mail skittering off the table with the kittens). I could have so much more control, right?
Sometimes I just need to get over myself and my psychotic thought that I can control things. And, whenever I am able to do just that, well, that when I find I’ve landed myself right in a big old pile of gratitude.