I’ve had a cold. The kind of cold that makes you want to just gobble up Tylenol PMs and wear sweatpants. I usually shower in the morning. Sometimes twice daily. And this is the kind of cold that makes washing my hair seem too damn exhausting. Holding my arms up over my head is impossible. I am grateful that Lucy eats like she is in a hot dog eating contest. At least once a day she eagerly sucks down more milk than her little body can handle and grins and spits about 1/4 of a cup of curdled milk back up on to my neck, my hair, my chest. It’s enough to encourage me to work through the tired and hop in the shower.
The horrible thing about being sick when you have little people depending on you is that you don’t really gets to take a day off. You can try. You can let the big kids eat granola bars and cheese sticks and the little bitties get to loll about in their diapers, taking a break from the day’s scheduled game of dress up.
The worst of the funk hit on Sunday when MQD was home. Back to bed I went for the majority of the day, snuggling with Lucy as often as she would let me. She snoozed away the day most of Sunday and the great majority of Monday. Monday afternoon I got up and looked around my house and decided I had to power through a super clean. I cleaned bathrooms, the kitchen, put away all the laundry, wiped the baseboards, vacuumed the couch and cleaned the ceiling fans. (As a side note, did you know if you use dishwasher detergent in your tub it will shine! Shine, I say!!) I hopped in the shower before Emily got home from school and when I got out I sat down and looked around. The house was noticeably neater, sure. But the rest of it? No one was ever going to notice it had been done. No one but me.
For two, almost three, days I didn’t really do anything. And it didn’t really matter. Unless you looked you’d not even notice. Sure, the laundry baskets were full in our closets. The big pan of macaroni and cheese I’d made last week was gone, the meatloaf I’d planned to freeze had been eaten because I didn’t cook anything else and the box of granola bars was gone.
So, sit on that. If I stop doing anything and it goes unnoticed… Does what I do all day matter? Of course it does. If no one carried the shoes upstairs every day for a week… Well then there’d be a huge pile of shoes by the door. And eventually the dishwasher would be full and the sink would be full and we would need clean silverware, even if we were eating something from a box.
This new job… The job I have had for years but that I have recently been focusing even more of my attention on… It’s so weird. Nothing matters more than Mom. I believe that with my whole heart, what I am doing, it matters. But shoes piled up by the stairs do not matter. Toothpaste in the sink doesn’t really matter. If you asked Mike why he loves me he would probably not say it is because I always make the bed or that he loves me more when I iron his shirts than when I just throw the back in the dryer on wrinkle release.
Lucy needs me. Emily loves me, even at almost seven years old amidst eye rolling and “Mom, it looks cool, not cute” hair flipping… I know I matter. I am loved. I suppose why I am loved is what doesn’t really matter.
When you are struggling to grow up, to find your own way, to figure out who you are in a new part of life it is helpful to look back. Somehow knowing where you come from makes seeing where you are going simpler.
Kelly, circa 1979
This girl isn’t worried about the little things. She came to show you a good time. When they move me in to the retirement home I’m bringing a box of 45s and a macaroni necklace. And I hope they are ready to party. If life is a circle and we end up right where we started (and I believe that it is) than I’m keeping my eyes on the prize.
And in the meantime? As soon as I’m feeling better we are getting out the poster paint and the rigatoni. Because that’s what matters. I gotta teach my girls how to get to Funkytown. So they can find me when I am old and grey and I wander off.