My home expands and contracts with our daily routines. In the early hours of the morning it is quiet, still, small. Then the kids wake up and start to push the walls outward, tossing blankets off their bed with their childhood enthusiasm to want to start the day running. Toothpaste fills the sink, water gets splashed out of cups, sounds of laughing and shouting fill the air as shoes are looked for, books are found and the house starts to expand. Our family room, which has become Jack’s playroom, grows the most. All of the toys get hauled out, little feet jump on the furniture, it almost feels like the room itself pushes out, making more room for the children. During the day the house continues to grow, keys get tossed onto the center table, boots get kicked off, papers get shuffled, groceries get brought in and dishes get used and fill up the sink. At night it contracts. The children get fed and washed and put to bed and it shrinks a little bit with them all still in their beds. Then I walk around and put things away, the clothes get picked up off the floor, the toothpaste gets washed out of the sink, the toys all get put into their right place. I pull the little ride on toys to their unofficial parking spots, put the wayward socks in the hamper, put the dishes in the dishwasher, straighten the papers, put the pillows back on the couch, fold the blanket that fell off.
I don’t think it’s just my self-diagnosed mom OCD that makes me pick up every single night, its more that it just feels right, this rhythm. It’s almost natural, necessary, to put it all back away just so it can get taken out again. The house grows, and it shrinks, it gets loud, and it gets quiet. I need to have both to appreciate both.
During the day there are moments when I can’t hear myself think, then at night I tiptoe past their bedrooms to make sure a creak of a floorboard doesn’t wake them. Some days I feel like life is so full it might just overflow the house, fill it right up to the brim with soccer cleats and Hello Kitty barrettes and emails I never got back to and peanut butter and jelly crusts. Sometimes it can all feel overwhelming, that I only just managed to make it till everything contracted again, I only just made it to when I can have a breather and collect everything back again. It can be a scary feeling, but also a liberating one. Because I would rather have too much to do, too much to pick up, too much to take care of, than to not have it at all.
Sometimes when my back is especially tired and I’m bending down to pick up that tiny Lego Darth Vader for the eleventh time that week after the eighth time that week that I stepped on it I make it a meditation on gratefulness. Yes, that little black Lego man can serve as the tiny glue that helps me hold my shit together. Because what if I didn’t have this little Lego dude to pick up? I know I wouldn’t be as crazed, as anxiety filled, as tired, as spent, but also not as unbelievably fulfilled in the most gloriously exhausting way. Thank you Lego Darth Vader, how I love you so...xoxo