The other day Goldie moped up to me and said, “Mom, can you think of anything I can do?” Then she paused, considered me with one eyebrow raised and a bit of skepticism, and quickly added, “Besides clean up.”
“You could peel some potatoes for dinner,” I suggested.
“Mommm,” she moaned – shoulders falling forward -- “that’s basically the same thing.”
And she slumped off again (even from her toddler days she has been excellent at the despairing slump-walk), but, after a day full of broken bowls, clogged toilets, and kids needing dropped off and picked up from many places; “clean up” or “peel potatoes” was about all my brain could muster.
Lately it certainly has felt that there is much to be done and much left undone each day: to-do lists that aren’t getting checked off, cupboards that aren’t getting cleaned out, outgrown clothes that aren’t getting boxed up, papers that aren’t getting filed, and windows that can only dream of getting cleaned.
Every once in awhile I will catch myself longingly thinking thoughts along the lines of: “Someday we will have an empty house – all our kids will be grown and I will be able to organize toys and clothes and get rid of excess and clutter and clean things like they should be cleaned.”
Could there be any line of thinking that would be any less “living in the moment”?
No. Probably not. But, here is the thing about me (maybe about all of us): my thoughts often occur simultaneously and in complete contradiction to one another.
I followed him around, trying to capture the perfect little creature, so that I would never forget – would never forget that sleepy head of hair; would never forget what luck and goodness and beauty my life had in it. Because it seemed to me that many good things might happen to a person in their life, but none better than having a boy like this wake up with hair like that.
I recognize, obviously, that longing for a day when I can clean with out distraction is longing for a rather sad and ridiculous future, and, I know well enough that there is no telling what future circumstances might be (and whether those circumstances will ever include “time to get everything done”). I do hope to have a happy future. I hope that each new stage will have it’s own joys and that, while I might feel a bit sentimental and watery-eyed as I think of things that are past (such as little nap-headed boys all grown up), I will not pine in misery for stages gone by. I hope to be enjoying and accomplishing and living.
I imagine I won’t do it perfectly. I imagine that I will occasionally wish for the past despite a happy present just as now I occasionally wait for tomorrow all the while living and truly loving this absolutely lucky and amazing present.
But I will keep practicing the art of being fully present now. It might be a bit easier if dishes and laundry washed themselves and if wonderful adventures in the snow didn’t mean finding where in the house to drape or dry out endless piles of coats and hats and snow pants and boots after.
Still, maybe all of that serves some small purpose. Maybe I wouldn’t quite realize the moments of satisfaction – Daisy braiding my hair while I read The Hobbit out loud, Penny singing a clever little made-up song to herself as she plays in the next room, Abe making hot-cocoa for Jesse – if there weren’t the occasional (or, in the case of mess, nearly constant) opposites.
Life is pretty lovely, isn’t it. All of what I am living? Unimaginably good. . . . Even with its spilled game pieces, dried toothpaste in the bathroom sink, and kitchen drawers that will explode should one more piece of children’s artwork be added to them!