Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Story in the Sink


There is a wealth of information in a sink of dirty dishes: A cutting board covered with remnants of oranges and strawberries and tomatoes, each not leaving a big enough mess to warrant a cleaning before reuse. Multiple small containers, coated with a thin layer of sand and ash, alongside remnants of items stored for a lunchtime picnic at the beach. Four (or was it six?) bowls streaked with dried oatmeal from three days' breakfasts unattended. 

If the highchair tray came with multiple covers, they'd be stacked by the sink too.

The weather forecast has been favorable this month, with only a half inch rain and a delicious abundance of sun, a welcome contrast to the fifteen inches we received in January.

This island we live on is green, with weather that is notoriously harsh. A friend visiting in March commented on what a distinct look seaside towns have: houses with exterior paint gradually peeling or chipped, foliage with hearty root systems to survive the ever present wind, so many trees and fences and walkways leaning. Weathered. All of it.

And so when the sun comes out and the wind eases up, so do the people--with as much time as real life allows. I spent two hours after my daughter went to bed cleaning: laundry and dishes and bathrooms. I unpacked from last weekend's track meet and began to repack for this weekend's final meet. It seems that the evening, after the sun has dipped below my backyard spruce trees with glistening rays through my kitchen window, is the only prudent time to get such work done. 

Eventually these tasks demand attention, when the baby runs out of clean pajamas, and there isn't a clean spoon in the house. Until that breaking point, I exercise my freedom to ignore. There will always be housework; alas, there will not always be sun...especially in this town. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Nap Time Musings

     Morning sunrise, a bit earlier each day...

Last week, an hour after putting our toddling girl to bed, I could still hear her babbling away in her crib. Knowing this was unusual for her, I went in to check that something hadn't happened. Everything was as it should be, but the minute I entered the room she popped up and greeted me with an excited squeal, and I lifted her into my arms. With all the range of voice she could muster, she continued to talk and squeal, to play with my lips and drum her hands on my shoulder, pausing every now and then to bury her face in her blanket, which she had intentionally kept tightly within her grasp as I lifted her out.

After a couple moments I lay her down again, and she began to cry intently. This is not her typical response when she is put to bed, and being caught off guard I immediately picked her back up. At that point every parenting advice ever given to me flashed into my head: what habits was I teaching her in this moment? Cry and you'll get what you want? I rocked her as I stood next to her crib, breathing deeply her smell as she nuzzled against my neck, humming as I stood in the evening glow of her room. The sun still shone brightly outside of her western facing window, the rays breaking through the cracks left by the darkening shades. After several moments I lay her down again, and she settled with her left thumb in her mouth, her right arm cradling her pink blanket to her face, and both eyes wide and fixed on my own. 

I spent this last weekend on a four day trip with the track team, flying a few hundred miles away from my family to parade around town in a minivan filled with teenagers. The conversations ranged from overplayed radio hits, to loyalty in relationships, to favorite ice cream flavors. In the couple hundred miles I drove to and from three days worth of track meets, there were plenty of quiet moments where I was able to relish the gift it is to have a job I thoroughly enjoy. And in the quiet of the evening, as I fell asleep in my sleeping bag on a classroom floor listening to the whispering of teenage girls, there were many moments where I very much missed being home. 

I am spending my Monday catching up from a long weekend away from home, finding myself enjoying the rhythm of day to day living: clean sheets, milk in sippe-cups, and the indecision of my daughter as she climbs on and off my lap a half dozen times. She wants to be near me, and though she doesn't have the words to say it, I can tell she noticed my absence. 

It's nice to be away. It's nice to be home.