Tonight I remembered that even my doctor husband can’t see clearly into my head. So I told him straight up, I need to go to Wendy’s. McDonald’s would do. Somewhere, ideally. Last night was rare in that I thought ahead and made enough supper to have some again tonight, but five minutes with my two year old strapped into a five point harness somewhere safe sounds even better than leftover roast beef and garden potatoes and beans, homemade buns, and a slow Montana sunset sliding lazy and warm across the dinner table.
I put him next to me in the booth meant for four, but leave it a kids table and scoot a smaller table adjacent so I can sit across from the kind-eyed man who brought us all here. The two year old screams, he wants ketchup too. I tell him in my best emotionless voice to ask what he wants, then remembering he doesn’t exactly talk yet, have him give me his best interpretation of “please” (“mey!”).
“I think he’s got ADHD”, I tell the man, because I love him and his sense of humor blessedly walks hand in hand with mine even when it’s weird and so am I.
He snorts and I ask him if he saw any of Those today. The ones who blame everyday two year old boy tendencies on anything else so long as it has a scary name which is exactly what I’m wont to do at the end of days like this one. He says no, that he wasn’t in clinic but at the hospital all day long. Someone he treated last night that he was worried about is doing better today, he says, and I’m glad for him.
He and I mention happenings in our days, in the middle of a six year old rescuing her cheeseburger from under the table and a seven year old smiling all toothy telling us about the peacocks she saw at the zoo this morning. The two year old thinks he hasn’t eaten in a year so I don’t hear from him until his sister pulls the toy out of her happy meal bag and now it’s all he can see. His whole body rocks and strains to get to it from across the table. I bat his hands away, hardly aware of what he or I are doing but he shrieks even louder and forces me to stop the conversation I was having with that man who brought me here to rescue me from all of this in the first place. But he smiles at me and I understand why.
I felt Sage and Experienced a few nights back, telling someone that life can be hard and beautiful, both at the same time and the ability to really hold both of those in your hands with some foresight and not fight them is a gift and would get her far.
It felt nice to say that night, but right now I’m nothing but a small, weary mama who is done with having any answers or meeting any needs for a few years, thank you very much.
We pull into our driveway and distinctly hear a chicken squawk- loudly- right in front of the car as the garage door rattles up. The dog meanders out of the garage as if to say, nothing going on in here! But it’s a white hen- one of the few that can fly high enough to get out- missing some tail feathers, running for her life. The man in his Realtree hat pushed back on his head like I love, tries to corner the terrified critter but she almost runs out into the driveway and he and I snip at each other in passing as we both miss grabbing her before she’s in the street and gone for good. I pick her up where she can’t see me and my husband carries her back to her home. I herd kids out of coats and into the house. The two year old falls hard onto the floor in a rage that his daddy walked somewhere without him, and I feel like a car that’s running out of gas- sputtering and threatening to lurch really hard before I quit for good until I get a good refilling. It’s much worse to get that low on patience so he goes under an arm and up the stairs, him kicking his legs all the way. There’s not much to do with an exhausted almost-two-year-old when he gets to that point so I fight his jammies on him and plunk him into bed. And feel guilty at my relief as I shut that door with it’s cute baseball handle, too guilty even to pray for strength to do all of that again tomorrow when today was such a jumble of tiny glimpes of beauty but much more of just barely getting by until bedtime.
There’s nothing sage or massively experienced about me but I remember those words that just fell so nicely out of my head when my brain was running on better things than it is right now:
That life can be hard and beautiful, both at the same time and the ability to really hold both of those in your hands and not fight them is a gift.
I would do well to remember that.
I sit down to type because I want to see that thought in writing. That man with strong arms is reading out of the classic Pooh story book and I think how much I love to hear him read now. Girls giggle at his funny voices and gasp once at something surprising or scary but I can’t hear what happened. It’s just fingers typing but mostly the story on the page in front of me after that for a while, until a seven year old girl voice drops down each stair step behind me. I turn to see her hair falling playfully around her beautiful face. She’s talking but I don’t even remember what she’s telling me because I just love that she’s coming down the stairs, and that she’s oddly happy to see me here.
I fill up their water bottles and set them next to each of their beds. My six year old has eyes that look like blue diamonds, and when I look at them I see that she, too, is happy to see me. The girls get a hug and a kiss goodnight, the six year old has twelve or so things she wants to tell me or ask or do or be before I shut the door behind me but I don’t want to blow it again, so I stop and listen. She must know that just her voice makes me smile right now.
I come back down the stairs and a doctor sits beside me. His face is weary and kind, strong arms, he wants to read The Economist but he’s gone hard for weeks and weeks, so he’s sitting upright and asleep in just a few minutes. I’m both annoyed and deeply pleased that he doesn’t like to go to bed without me.
I read up the paragraphs, there’s too much to fret over but decide to click the “Post” button anyway and let it be so my husband can sleep somewhere more comfortable than with his feet propped on the piano bench like they are.
It’s a typical day here, not ecstatically great and not miserably awful. But beautiful.
Home tonight is just beautiful.