Friday, February 10, 2012

Just Do It With Love

Emily, at Keeping Time,  invited us to Celebrate Parenthood today. I didn't know if I'd make the deadline. I wanted to, but my confidence level was low. And then I visited Emily's blog, and she said the following magic words: stream of consciousness. And the sun came out from behind the clouds and I thought: I can do this!

So here goes:

The alarm goes off in the morning, and I groan. But then I roll over, walk down the stairs, and start my day. I have about 15 minutes to myself before the first of the boys I babysit arrives; my kids are usually still asleep. I meet little Noah (not his real name) at the door, and lead him into the living room, where we read stories until we hear Lulabelle, my baby girl (see previous disclaimer :)) beginning to stir. He looks at me and says: Baby!

Yes! Baby's waking up. Should we go and see her? I ask, and we walk to her room.

The next hour is a blur of diapers, and dressing, and Milo -our other friend (and another not-real name)- arriving, and my three year old boy, Ben (last fake-name announcement!) waking up. It's booty-wiping, and hand-washing, and tooth-brushing, until we all make it back to the living room.

I lie down on the floor, and await their gifts.

Can you read me this? 

Looka dis!

My turn! My turn!

Oooh! Oooh! Oooh! (with much pointing)

I a airpwane on you yegs pwease?

Mommy, mommy, I need a turn! I want to go first!

Katy, Katy, you read a choo-choo book a me?

Uh! Uh! Uh! (with much reaching)

I read. I look. I remind: it's still his turn. did you offer a trade? maybe he will trade you for another toy. I decipher: I think Lula is showing us her rattle! Pretty cool Lulabelle! I airplane, and keep track of whose turn it is. I read again, and decipher again: Up? Up? You want up? Heeere we go!

Eventually the chaos settles for a moment of pause. I gather them in, my children, and the children who aren't mine, but who are part of our story nevertheless, and who need me to care for them in the same ways my own do. In the same ways someone else cared for my babies while I was at work.

I gather them in, and I open a book with feathers, furry animal patches, rough denim and straw, flaps of fabric populating its pages, and I begin to read.

What dat?

Where is the rooster GOING, Mommy?

I touch! I touch!

Me turna pages!

What dat? I say what dat? And what dat, too?

Mommy, Lulabelle is climbing on your head! She is like the rooster in the hen house!

Baby! Baby on you head! Dat silly!

I touch!

My turn!

The cacophony begins again.

In the half hour I've spent in this stream-of consciousness, I've also: helped Ben make "words" with foam letters, retrieved an early-waking Lulabelle from her crib, shared an armchair with my two children, had my "hair done" by tiny fingers, brushed a baby girl's barely there hair because she likes the feel of the brush on her head, offered board books and kleenex, stopped to sing a song or two, kissed and been kissed.

The floors haven't been fully cleaned, from lunch. There's a load of laundry, waiting to be switched over to the dryer. I really need a cup of coffee. And I think that's Milo I hear, beginning to stir, an hour early.

There's always too much. There will always be too much, as long as I do this work. I'll never finish. So then the question becomes: Did I do it with love?

The answer, almost every day, is yes. Yes.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing. Your day, your openness, your willingness to love -- and the amount of chaos all around you! Those kids, all of them, the ones that are yours and the ones that aren't yours, are lucky to have you. Because you're right there, down on the floor, teaching them and guiding them and inspiring them, and work like that doesn't come with a lot of tangible reward, but it's what societies are built on. Your work is incredibly important, and you're doing it well even when nobody's looking -- and THAT makes you worthy of celebration!

    But seriously, you've got to remind me to tell you about the time my (then) two-year-old and three of her friends took me to their "beauty salon" and fixed my hair in The Sombrero. Talk about a fashion! :)