Today is another day.
We pulled in after school and Cohen raced to his scooter, handle bars dare-devishly adjusted to their lowest level, his helmet dangling unbuckled from his head. I unloaded Everett and took off his sweaty shoes and kissed his smelly feet and returned to the garage to unload Mae. The girls found brownies and their way inside, and we sat around the paper-laden kitchen table feeding Everett little crumbs of chocolate which quickly spread like muddy goo across his cheeks.
Minutes passed, Cohen returned, and Sophie said “what can we do?” Cohen chucked a new “Capital Mystery” book in my lap, and the big kids scattered around my shoulders and squished couch cushions in the way we nag them not to squish. I opened to chapter one and said “Where’s Mae?” and found her on top of the kitchen table chewing a marker and fanning napkins out over the floor like large wads of confetti. I made my way back to the book and the couch and the misshapen cushions and made it to page two before Mae was back on the kitchen table again– tongue blue from her teal marker– smile wide and mischievous– palms sticky and clutching now unusable napkins that we will probably use anyway.
We managed to finish a chapter and Cohen laid out several pieces of cut-out notebook paper across the floor, explaining the different rooms of an army base he had created. He had a pool on the roof. “I just– ” he laughed to himself, “I just don’t know why I put that pool on the roof!” he kept on giggling. The babies climbed atop the book trunk to tumble over the arm of the couch and continued to bounce precariously on the ill-shapen lumps of the remaining cushions. Ellie sat behind me twisting my hair into a pony tail and Sophie lay sprawled in the big chair trying to sound out every other word in another mystery book. I listened and watched and was happy.
Jacob walked in from his dentist appointment and a now somehow shirtless Mae buried her head in his knees; he kissed the other kids’ heads and Mae still clutched him, and he hugged her long and hard because she was in need of an extra long hug. Cohen made his way downstairs and we felt the tiredness of Thursday– Ellie screamed for me to hold her while Cohen moaned that he didn’t understand his math homework, and I had to lock the former out of the latter’s room in order to help brush up on my 3rd grade addition skills. Ellie found a cracked cue tip to pop the lock and bust into the room, and Cohen managed to drag out the entire process by writing with his left hand, but eventually the homework was done and we were around the table. Bumping into one another we carried water filled glasses and crumbly garlic bread; we slid forks across the table into hands, and Jacob prayed “God help us not go crazy.”
There was talking all at once and then there was sometimes quiet– quiet even I was too tired to disturb with my “how was recess, how was lunch,” litany of questions. Cohen hustled (slowly) into his cleats and futilely searched for his flags for football practice and eventually left without them. The big girls played “Marissa and Mario”, crawling under tables and roaring like lions and chasing the babies around. “They are the monkeys,” I was informed. I jammed markers and seemingly endless bits of paper into the art cabinet, and swore to myself about the way the previous cleaner uppers had decided to store the crayons, which fell like a colorful torrent off the shelves.
After several pleas and threats, the girls eventually found the shower, and I wrangled the babies into giant white t-shirts before putting them to bed. I sniffed the towels on the floor, decided they were clean, and calmed Ellie as she screamed that soap was in her eyes. We were lying in bed reading Junie B Jones and The Million Dollar Mystery when we heard Jacob and Cohen walk in from practice. Jacob told me he was impressed with the clean kitchen. “It was a shit show,” I tell him.
Tomorrow we will get up and do it again- we will choose to work hard at work worth doing. Whatever is in front of us– whether it be tending to the young, tending to the old, or just treating yourself with tenderness– this is the work worth doing. At making a life for the people we love, as annoying and belligerent and smelly as they can be. We will do the honorable thing of choosing the next right thing, and it will be sacred and monotonous, and probably semi-boogery. But there will be beauty in the mire, for there is most assuredly beauty to be found in the hard work of being our best selves. This good work is enough, just like you are enough. Cheers to not going crazy!