And the Rest of it All

I kissed them goodnight, calm bodies sunk into their beds like butter on warm toast.  Their new favorite evening *ritual was what they asked for that night, and it was just what I needed.  But I think they knew that.  I was grateful for that ritual, and how it allowed us to regain some composure on the day, a day which I was ready to put to rest.  

I head downstairs and into the kitchen, put my playlist on ‘shuffle’.  Music as my ally, I look toward the clean dishes, pulled them from the dishwasher and returned them to their home.  Fork nestled into fork.  Bowl nestled into bowl.  Lids that never seem to nestle into anything. 

In the repetition of the task at hand, my mind wanders to the parts of the day that did not go well.  Like the crumbs under my feet that seemed like a bed of saltines.  Crunching and crumbling under each step, as if this might be that one task that even the broom couldn’t handle.  Where the broom might finally say, “I quit”.  This was my mindset all day.  The small things felt like big things and I was aware of my dramatization but I couldn’t necessarily stop it.  The dishes grew in the sink as if sitting in the potion that Alice in Wonderland drank.  The garbage that stunk every time I opened it but had the nerve not to take itself out.  The way the forks clanged on dinner dishes as if the noise might actually scare the food into one’s mouth; the heavy gulps of water seemed to echo and reverberate up and down the canals of my long bones.


“And all I can do 

Is just pour some tea for two

And speak my point of view

But it’s not sane, 

It’s not sane.”

-Blind Melon, No Rain 

I gaze outside my kitchen window, looking through the dark for the lone and unplanned sunflower that took root in my herb garden, but a red spider steals my gaze first.  The light from the kitchen serves as its work floodlight; it meticulously weaves in a circle with a pause at each radial thread, its underbelly facing me, as unconcerned with me as I am with it.  I think of our time in the Redwoods.  Of how nothing happened quickly; how everything took a little work and attention, and yet, it hardly felt like work at all. 


“Have you ever wandered lonely through the wood?

and everything it feels just as it should

you’re part of the life there, part of something good

if you’ve ever wandered lonely through the woods


if you’ve ever wandered lonely through the woods.”

-Brandi Carlile, Have You Ever

The girls have struggled since being home from our vacation.   Nature at their tent-step, cousins readily available for endless play options, following the natural rhythm of the day with no clock in sight, the kettle was their rooster and hot cocoa was their reward for simply waking up.  I joked that they were having cocoa withdrawals, and that we didn’t wean them appropriately once home.  The fighting, the entitlement, the attitudes, the aversion to any simple request, the stomping up stairs … I was put in a position to throw all cool-Mom options out the window.  And in return I was told that I was not fun.  That other people were more fun than I was.  That I was mean.  And while I thought I was handling it all calmly, I teetered on whether to explain what they didn’t seem to understand, or to just let it be and detach from the emotion of it all.  And instead of choosing one, I chose both.  I was a disconnected nag.  The kind that wears stern eyebrows, and can’t find her smile; the kind that feels awful and regrets it fiercely yet can’t seem to shake it.


“I can understand how when the edges are rough

And they cut you like the tiny slivers of glass

And you feel too much

And you don’t know how long you’re gonna last."

-Pink, The Great Escape

I come-to, and realize the water has been running and the spider is done spinning. Sitting contently in the middle of its masterpiece while I felt the weight of the day, I take the spider’s advice and let it all wash down the sink.

“Oh, I said I could rise

From the harness of our goals

Here come the tears

But like always, I let them go

Just let them go."

-The Tallest Man on Earth, Love is All

Earlier that night, just before it was time to shower and get into bed, they requested a *spa night and thank goodness I had the sense to say yes to that.  They showered and I helped them twist the towel just right on their heads.  Lotion massages, face masks and a story from our new favorite night-time book.  They trusted their little limbs in my hands and I could feel them soften around the day’s torn edges.  And they taught me to soften, too.  

“I’ll tell you one thing

We ain’t gonna change love

The sun still rises

Even through the rain."

-The Head and the Heart, Another Story

Before I head to bed, I walk down the hallway, trying to navigate around the one squeaky plank on the floor, but did not succeed.  And there in the dark of their rooms, I let my eyes adjust to find their breath ...

"I am watching your chest rise and fall

like the tides of my life, 

and the rest of it all.

-Ani DiFranco, Both Hands

...and I look for the soft place where their cheek meets their ear. I feel my breath on their clean skin and leave a kiss-stamped promise for a better day tomorrow.

“There’s a rhythm in rush these days

Where the lights don’t move and the colors don’t fade

Leaves you empty with nothing but dreams

In a world gone shallow 

In a world gone lean

But there is a truth and it’s on our side

Dawn is coming open your eyes

Look into the sun as a new days rise.” 

-Jose Gonzalez, Stay Alive

Yes, a better day tomorrow.

 © Houseman 2013