In a house asleep, I read. Real pages between my fingertips. Words but no pictures. The story is deep and deeply engrossing. I don’t often read novels but lately I have found myself lost in stories of imaginary people and worlds so unlike my own. Where I used to spend these nap times seeking ways to produce, create, do something, these days I quietly consume. It’s a winter position. Life is quiet in winter. Living is smaller. I suppose, if I could, I’d sleep during this time too. But I’ve never been good at napping. Though I am not nearly as controlled and regimented as I used to be, I still can’t shed the commitment to sleep at night, wake during the day.
Then they wake and my book goes away and the afternoon is louder in a house awake though I couldn’t quite tell you why or what we do. I just know it feels busy in an unimportant way. There is music and playtime. Dinner prep, getting ready for the week to begin. We eat dinner with our eyes glued to a movie because the day has been lazy and slow and the table seems like too much effort.
And just like that, another day has ended. I haven’t left the house. Haven’t seen, or talked with, anyone but my three people. And that’s ok. Sometimes.
At tuck in, she begins her prayers. I repeat them after her because that is how we’ve always done her bedtime prayers. She gets to the part where we list out the things we are thankful for. We begin with family and then move on to the events of the day, usually recounting times with friends, special treats, fun moments we spent together. But she draws a blank. She’s got nothing. And I have more of the same.
The day dawned and turned to dusk and we did nothing of note. Nothing at all. And I realize, we need to live.
“You know I love you, right?” I ask them. I ask in good times but, also, in bad. I ask when they have just strung words together into a sentence that makes me smile in awe at their sweetness, their charm, their intelligence and, always, the knowledge that they are my people. And I ask when they have just strung words together into a sentence, or maybe a scream, that makes my blood boil in frustration at their smallness, their humanness, their persistence and, always the knowledge that I am their person. Because, so much of the time, those are the moments that chase me from love. So often, in the middle of a tantrum, I daydream ahead to the moment when I will glance at their peaceful, sleeping bodies as I make my way to my bed, just to feel the glow of the love when I need it most.
So I ask them if they know I love them, there in that moment when they are angry and they know I am too and we’re running late and in another second I’ll be doing my best to not blame our lateness on them while doing it all the same. And they say yes and, you know, sometimes that diffuses it. Sometimes it takes love, delivered and received, for us all to move on. And I realize, we need to love.
“Stand on your own two feet.” I say. “No I will not pick you up.” I quip. I want them to support themselves with the feet they grew when supported by my body, the feet that learned to step and move and carry them as I held their hands above their heads, the feet that work just fine. They want to use those feet, when they want to, and want me to do the work for them when they don’t. I say no but they claw at me and whine and beg. Sometimes I still deny them. You have feet. You can get where you want to go without me. But more and more lately, I’m indulging them. Lifting them, supporting them. I realize, we all need to support.
Live, Love, Support
This winter has been long and hard. Spring is dawning but frustratingly slowly. And we all need out. We forget that we are not prisoners trapped here, somehow together but family members who live here together, love each other, and, deep down, do want to support one another. We loose sight of our primary obligations to one another – to live, to love, to support.
But Spring is coming and with each sunny day I’m remembering that this is it. This is what my family needs from me. To live. To love. To support.