Right now it is July 2019. Olivia is nine. Penny is almost seven. Henry is three, but will be four in five months. Jack is nearly not a baby.
Right now, the rug in our bedroom needs to be steamed cleaned. I noticed the pinks and blues are becoming a muted grey. The hallway bathroom isn’t done. I am constantly doing laundry, because of swimming, because of beach trips, because of sweat, because of potty learning, because of peanut butter. I find the pits of stone fruits, lovingly selected at the farmer’s market, sucked dry, under chairs and on window sills. Everything is a little bit of mess, but I am confident that this is more constructive than destructive, that creative freedom often leaves a bit of a mess in its wake.
Right now, Jack comes to me with a stuffed toy in one hand and a small wheeled vehicle in the other, always, never the same stuffed toy, sometimes a cat, sometimes an owl, and never the same vehicle. Trains, trucks, cars, earthmovers, all seem to be valid options. He can say mama, sissies, help, eat, water, ginkgo, car, cupcake, and no, plus about a gazillion other words that only family understand. In a lot of ways he is a master communicator. Someone always knows what he is asking for. Mostly he is just asking to be in the thick of it. Jack is content amidst the chaos, and seems lost when all of his people aren’t around.
Right now, Henry is Henrying. I find him charming beyond all measure and recognize that this is not the ideal place to parent from. He loves me with his whole self, without reservation and I find myself yearning to be worthy of that love. He says, “Oh, bummers,” when he is disappointed and his favorite game is to take turns pretending to be a teddie bear. If you are not lucky enough to be the teddie bear, your role is to pretend amazement when you discover your teddie bear is wiggling or laughing and then respond with shock and delight when you realize your teddie bear is, in fact, a Henry. He loves our neighbor, Ms. Annie and can’t wait to tell her about his day, whenever he discovers her enjoying the breeze on her front stoop. I can’t wait to see what he is going to do next. Oh, and he only poops at bedtime.
Right now, Penny can’t seem to stop growing, taller every day, her feet long and narrow, growing shoe sizes seemingly over night. She gallops through the house roaring at her brothers, a favorite playmate. I find myself asking her to calm down, and as soon as the words are out of my mouth, I wish I could suck them back in. Stay wild, my girl, stay wild. Roar and gallop and laugh. There will be time enough for calm.
Right now, I have stopped answering any question Olivia asks, because I have discovered that if I pause long enough she answers it herself, working her way through her own solution or using the context clues around her to puzzle it out. I love these moments, small glimpses into how her magnificent brain works. I am recognizing that the questions I had been finding cumbersome are mostly just her verbal tick, she needs no input beyond hearing the question out loud. I have heard her work through the basics of evolution, the life cycle of a fern, why we circled the block for parking even though there were spots in the lot, and what I might make for dinner if I didn’t stop for take out, all in the past twelve hours.
Right now, I am greedy for more time with Jim. Time alone feels too short and rushed. Some nights I hurry the girls to bed, the sun still high in the sky, and find myself waiting for what feels like hours for him to escape the boys’ room. There are stolen moments late at night. There are tender moments in the early morning, before the chaos erupts and fills our bed, the boys: forty percent snuggling and sixty percent wrestling. We both see it and feel it, recognize that this is a moment in time. An unspoken promise to each other hangs in the air between us. Someday. Some day soon.
Right now, I am tired, but in such a nice way. The days are long, but the years are short. I find myself wondering when I will lose Olivia during the summer, when her agenda and plan will supersede my days at the museum, trips to the grocery store, playdates with friends. I am certain that it is sooner than either of us can quite imagine. I am looking forward to forward facing car seats, to the end of diapers, to big adventures, to no more babies, but that is not right now.
Right now, my plants are growing. My people are healthy and whole.
Right now, the world is in flux and there is much work to do. I am not unaware of the reality of what is happening in our country. That right now, there are families torn apart, that there are children being held in unimaginable conditions. That is also part of the reality of right now.
Right now I am writing. I am writing to remember.
Right now, I am ready for the work of what comes next.
Right now, I am ready.