Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The blur of life

We knew it would be a year of endurance. A husband teaching an extra class section (aka: teaching all day ... no break ... all talked out by day's end), a daughter taking the SAT AND applying for college AND working AND finishing her high school career on a strong note, a son on the road to Eagle Scout AND debating AND working AND playing basketball AND getting an education, another son on the road to Eagle Scout AND debating AND getting an education, and two more busy bees who love to be read aloud to and to dissect specimens and who don't like doing their math.

Of course, the scene has become more complex with staph infections (currently stable thanks to long-term antibiotics), a broken thumb (to be assessed mid-January) and the fact that my mother's stove lit on fire and her heater broke on the coldest day of the year.

I feel as if I am doggedly pursued by the tyranny of the urgent. My plans, carefully scripted, get set aside for a trip in the van to this medical office or that appliance store. The trip to Costco is made because of a desperate plea from a hungry son, "Mom, do you realize we really have no food?" Pantry stocking is not urgent until the hungry one is left wanting; suddenly bumped up to the top of the queue, off to the store we go. I am living the life of a stranger, unable to stop, assess and transition to this new (and hopefully temporary) stage that requires multi-tasking at the super power level.

Ominous skies, but no snow yet

When the skies look ominous, I find myself wondering if we will have a "snow day." What could I possibly mean when we homeschool, and homeschooling continues through rain, sleet and snow? Well, it would mean that it would continue on here. At home. In front of the fire. And then when fatigue hits harder than usual at the end of the day, I hear a dear husband wonder if he is getting sick, and it sounds like it would be a welcome break. It is, indeed, time for a break.

Friday night signals the beginning of Christmas break. My plan for Saturday includes:

1) Everyone sleeps until they wake on their own.
2) Piles of food for teenagers available all day.
3) Dickens Christmas stories, read aloud.
4) A long walk, holding hands, moving slowly. Camera in hand to catch the egret in flight or the last leaf on the grape vines.
5) Hot toddies.
6) Books, Sudoku, the entire newspaper, ipod shuffling, a board game?
7) Some 24? Some college football?
8) If necessary for peace, you will find our phone unplugged. Maybe even (gasp!) the computer.


The miracle is that we're getting along better than ever. There were times this summer when I wondered where my happy little family was hiding. We were short with each other, easily offended, and easily offensive. Recently, though, we've been laughing again. We can tease each other again. We're hanging around the kitchen table, talking over the basketball game or the college decision or the debate ballots. The boys are slowly introducing us to their music preferences in the van with conversations like this: "Oh, don't play that one yet. And don't play that one too loud. Try that one; I know Mom likes it." While I would like to think that as Queen of the Universe, they would only listen to music I like, I am living in reality now and can accept that I am not ready for Song A at all, or Song B on high volume. And I appreciate their consideration. It's a beautiful thing.

You see, it's quite easy to bless me when I am living on the edge. Pick up your own shoes, clean the kitchen, offer to take the trash cans out, pick up your math book and get started without a reminder...well, you have just made my day and possibly my whole week. If you bring me a cup of French roast in the morning, or a glass of Merlot at night? Well, that just might make me cry with gratitude. I've always believed in having high standards for my family, but a funny thing is happening. Here in the midst of "we'll have to fold that pile of laundry over the week-end", where I am not cranky at people for not meeting my expectations ... somehow, some way, we're being kinder, we're making progress, and the laundry still gets folded...eventually. I think I am beginning to catch on to something that has eluded me amidst my well-laid plans. The silver lining to this busy cloud of a season is starting to look very beautiful.

We're holding on until Friday. It will be a night of celebration!

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