Sometimes, no often, well usually, when Sam leaves at 8:00 for elementary school, and then at 8:45 when I walk Molly to her preschool and hug her goodbye and head for home, I am relieved.
Finally, I think, I am unburdened. I have time to myself. I can get to the articles I have to write. I can wash the dirty breakfast dishes (let’s just say standards for fun change after children) and sweep the kitchen floor. I take a shower and talk on the phone uninterrupted and eat the fancy chocolate I’ve hidden in the freezer.
This morning, I found a little plastic pig Molly had left on the bathroom sink. That pig made me so sad, made me miss her so much, because suddenly I could picture her being so busy with that pig, washing it and talking to it and then getting distracted by something else she needs to do right now! (Put a clump of Silly Putty in a glass of water, cook a pile of snakes on her toy oven. . .)
I walked around the house, doing my morning post-child clean-up, and after the pig had caught me off-guard, I noticed other physical echoes of my children. The arm from a pirate pinata Sam had brought home after a party this week-end. The deflated Trader Joe’s balloon Molly had me tie on the tricycle she rides around the house, faster and faster these days. Sam’s pajamas that he left, as usual, on his bedroom floor, and the pile of BB gun pellets he’d emptied out the night before, excitedly telling me how he’d found them on the AstroTurf at soccer practice.
Usually, I’m so obsessed with getting the house clean before I get to my work. But today, I left the things where Sam and Molly had left them. The house became the Historical Museum of Sam and Molly. This is just how the house looked on February 4, 2009, when Sam was 11 and Molly was 3.
All these still-lifes are so loaded with my children, and seeing these things now inert, lifeless without the life Sam and Molly breath into them, well, today it hit me: There’s life with my children, and sometimes, no often, it’s more than I want — too many demands, too many tears and conflicts and needs and talking, talking, talking, and just too much life.
But how can you have too much life?
Tomorrow, I’m sure, I’ll forget that you can’t. But at least for today, I got it.