I know the daily round of children and school and laundry and naps and meals and driving to and fro and, and, and, is getting to me when I start fantasizing about getting just sick enough to languish in bed for a day. Or two.
Now’s the time of year when the routine starts getting to me—when the weather is “always winter and never Christmas.” Now’s about the age (19 months) when child care becomes most relentless. Take your eyes off Annika for an instant and risk destruction of property or injury to her person. She also has a winner of a case of separation anxiety (STILL), which means me cooking dinner, running upstairs to get something, or otherwise leaving her sight is unacceptable. She can walk away from me, mind you, and does so on a regular basis (particularly in public). But I cannot walk away from her without risking my hearing and nerves.
I’ve been listening to Sara Grove’s most recent CD, and one song in particular struck a chord with me. Unfortunately, I cannot find it online to share it with you, but it’s a bouncy country-ish song called “Setting Up the Pins.” The liner notes say she wrote it while washing the dishes (which—yeah, I’m not so productive as writing while doing housework). It’s about that daily routine and how we all try to get out of it. “Let’s get rich find a way around setting up the pins for knocking ‘em down.”
The lyric that knocks me down is:
my grandmother had a working song
hummed it low all day long
sing for the beauty that's to be found
in setting up the pins for knocking em down
In a flash I see an older woman, scrubbing clothes by hand, humming and peaceful. Purposeful, even. And I wonder how to find that. To see the routine as meaningful. To take joy in washing the dishes again, in ironing the same white shirts, in cooking dinner, in packing a lunch five days a week. I know it’s possible, but in these grey winter mornings, it’s hard to see it.
And then I realize at the school gate that I haven’t really looked at my children that morning. They have been small mouths to feed and bodies to dress. I’ve been prodding my older one to brush her teeth and get her coat on and WILL YOU GET IN THE CAR OR WE’LL BE LATE. And just before I say good-bye I look into her eyes and her cold-flushed face and hug her and tell her I love her and to have a good day. And she is healthy and beautiful and bigger than life. And then the little one pulls on my hand and we amble down the driveway at toddler speed. And I remember. Oh, yeah. That’s why.
P.S. Do you see what we’re dealing with here?