Today was one of those marvelous spring/summer days during which things flow without much scheduling and naturally weave in and out of productivity and fun. Our kids slept in, a huge bonus, until almost 9 am. Our friend D arrived with his two kids about 45 minutes later. We had breakfast, all sitting around our kitchen table. Then we went outside and the kids played, the adults talked, and I got some plants in the ground. This all took place under a brilliant blue sky and in warm sunshine.
In the middle of the day my nanny and I met to talk about long-term scheduling. Between my teaching schedule, her school schedule, and our changing family schedule, it’s a complicated picture, not something we can easily sort via email or in the five minutes we have for conversation on the days she’s working. So now we have a Plan A, and a Plan B for the fall, once Hazel is in school, and then once the twins turn 2.5 and are able to go to preschool. These plans take into account both of our professional, personal, and fiscal needs. We have a very strong relationship in which we each trust each other to flex, to set boundaries, to say how we feel and what we need. That is worth its weight in gold. I will forever be grateful to her, not only for the loving care she provides my children, but for our relationship and her friendship. I am so fortunate.
While the kids were still napping Ted left to pick up a rental truck so that he could then go get a Craigslisted picnic table. Hazel got up, and she and I made a plan for the next couple hours that started with planting some more flowers together. We went upstairs when we started hearing Emily in the monitor, and she very gently woke Joanna up. While I played with Emily, Joanna rested peacefully on Hazel, transitioning from sleep to alertness. Hazel told Joanna she loved her, and then told me she loved me. That was one of those moments of sweetness I want to keep in my heart.
We met Ted outside when he got back with the picnic table. One of its seat boards is missing, so after we had dinner Hazel and I dropped Ted and the twins at the grocery store and went off to buy border stones for the front garden and a six-foot long 2×6 with which to fix the table. We got an 8-footer, easy enough to saw down to size and screw into the seat. I’m not sure how much money we actually saved, given that there were picnic tables at Home Depot for $99. Ours was $50, plus the $11 car rental, plus the wood to fix the bench. But then, $30 is $30, and an amount of money we can spend on something else we need.
Before we went off to run those errands, Hazel reminded me of the second part of the plan she and I had made, to paint her face. She wanted a rainbow kitty face, which I gave her, with several pauses during the procedure for her to go and check progress in the mirror. Her nose was a rainbow, and the whiskers were a rainbow, too, with a pink moustache and black-outlined grey chin. Very fancy. At the Home Depot an employee did a perfect double-take, complete with single raised brow and disbelieving countenance. “What on earth is that? A rainbow tiger??” We laughed, and I gave him the thumbs-up. Hazel was delighted.
When we got home, we did the first part of the bedtime routine early so that we could go upstairs and fold a bunch of laundry while the kids played. We felt very virtuously productive. We even got the kids down a bit early and had some time to look forward to. Yeah, we fell into that trap. We forgot the cardinal rule: don’t count on down time until your kids are asleep, and not even really then. We initially went upstairs at 7:30. We stopped folding clothes at 8:20 to put the kids to bed. We got downstairs (the first time) a bit before 9:15. The last kid went to sleep/became quiet just a few minutes ago, an hour and fifteen minutes later. And it was a hard hour and fifteen minutes, including serious crying on the part of all three kids, Hazel coming downstairs, Hazel crying, “Mommy, I need you!” repeatedly, etc. The last time I went upstairs I gave her five minutes of snuggle time in her bed and told her I wouldn’t be coming upstairs again. She started to complain when I got up, but I told her that I really needed some downtime, needed to be alone, and that I was confident she could calm herself down. And she did.
So here I am. The dishes still need to be washed; the rest of the clothes still need to be folded; the diaper pails still need to be attended to; Ted and I still need downtime. But at least it’s only 10:30.
And the day was wonderful. I got an email from our friends with whom we had that fantastic 35-years-later reunion last week. The warm fuzzies are mutual, and we can look forward to getting together again. When I close my eyes tonight I can picture all the groundcovers and flowers we got into the earth, and anticipate seeing them grow.
In fact, the last productive thing we did tonight was to go put a beer-baited milk carton out in the garden next to the marigolds Hazel gave me for Mother’s Day, and which we saw today had been munched by snails. We also put milk carton sections around the two plants, hoping to stop further predations, and hoping that the plants can recover. Hazel was so sad to see them today. She had been so proud to bring them to me as a present.
I love my munchkin.