My youngest son decided to reorganize his room today, and when I went to check, I saw that he had piled a stack of box springs and mattresses on top of each other to rival something out of The Princess and the Pea. He called it King Sized. Yep. I’d say so. I swallowed and merely asked him not to fall off in the middle of the night and break himself into Humpty-Dumpty pieces. He assured me he’d be careful.
I had a sudden memory of the first time one of my boys climbed a tree, reaching what my mother’s heart considered dizzying heights. I knew at the time that climbing trees was a normal pastime for kids — I had climbed plenty in my day — but still, I had the urge to ask him to get back to earth. An urge I resisted.
Later as I plodded up the steps with my umpteenth load of laundry, I noticed that my formerly clean counter was now hosting what looked like a rather odd science experiment involving toothpaste, shampoo, and baking soda. I didn’t even ask. Just waved my hand in a “You know what you’ll be doing when you’re done — right?” attitude. “Please don’t spill it all over the floor” didn’t even need to be verbalized.
Sometimes I wonder what a stranger might think if he or she wandered into our home on any ordinary day. It’s generally quiet, though the piano is played quite a bit. Holidays and birthdays are celebrated in style with a cleaning frenzy right before. With laughter.
But more often than not, there are piles of books here and there. Pencils and papers scattered about. Drawings half-finished on the couch. Knitting projects proudly ensconced on a living room chair. Woodworking projects clutter the basement floor. Broken floor tiles skitter underfoot. Light smoke from the wood stoves tints the walls. A couple door handles are loose.
It is a well-used house. The kitchen sink is practically never empty, even though I (and the kids) do dishes the livelong day. The washer and dryer have given us their hearts and souls several times over. Footsteps patter upstairs or down the steps constantly. A door opens and shuts like a heartbeat.
We are not living in a magazine. Nor would I want to. The kids learn from taking their room apart and building glorious beds. They see new heights from the tops of trees. They practice drawing a face … or a landscape … a hundred times over and scatter the results everywhere. Birdhouses are built and hammered on posts outside. The birds come, lay eggs, and their lives join with ours.
There will be a day when the footsteps will fall silent. When the beds are made to perfection and the counter will stay clean for days on end.
I do not forward to that day. I am content with reality right now.
Our lives may not be perfect, but they are well lived.
Copyright 2019 Ann K. Frailey