Strange Monday

So much rain and gray, and then, what's that? Snow?! Phew, it's ephemeral and, like a quick glance, gone. The yard is soggier than a bowl of kids' cereal left out all morning; it sucks and squishes and squelches underfoot. The mulch Jack and I carefully laid down yesterday is unnoticeable now but at least the detritus is cleared away. I wonder how the worms are faring. Are they suffocating? Frozen? Compacted? I'd be miserable down there. Still, there are signs of animation. Spring green buds push north through the cold ground, brave little beacons of life from below. Perennials are so optimistic, aren't they? So ever-hopeful for the light and warmth that does finally come each year, even when we humans consider that such might never be so again. A bit more each day, I hear the happy sing-song of birds returning home again after another season away.

These instinctive behaviors just are. Elemental drives that remind me how simple some things really are or could be.

A nap with the cat, a dust-buster gleefully taken into the depths of our closet, some cooking. Time lapses with total or no accountability. Before I know, it's time to pick up the boys. Bless you, Monday. Usually you come when another moment of weekend simply seems to much to bear. A quick glance at my attire shakes me into a rapid change: I can't possibly go to pick-up in this get-up. Then again, it's still raining and a slicker and knee-high rubber boats will obscure most of my wardrobe randomness.

3:05p: I am at school, simultaneously thrilled to soon see my darlings and anxious about the two minutes of freedom I have left. It's like a reunion you've been dying for meets Sunday night re-entry anxiety for disgruntled workers; what a strange combination of feelings in the early afternoon. I keep in mind that I have just set up a whole table of cheerful Valentine card making materials in the basement. Won't we have fun making cards for friends?! And by starting this early (I'm learning!), there won't be a moment of stress.

I read the boys a book about the Chinese New Year while they happily make cards. Surely two young boys have never made such pretty and thoughtful Valentines so willingly. I bask in this plan that went according to plan. Those can be awfully rare.

I set the table for dinner and prepare their favorites. Oliver loses his mind over something, and I sense that staying up relatively late last night is coming to haunt us. He says he can't possible take a deep breath or stop crying so how on earth will he eat dinner. I feel like I suffered whiplash between the basement and the kitchen. What happened? How?

I take Oliver up for an early bath. He is still wailing and I try some tough love. He informs me that I have been mean to him and that once again he can't possibly stop the torrential flood of tears and snot. My oven timer blares, reminding me about the sixth and seventh pans of cheese straws that are now ready. Jack asks for more dinner, a blueberry yogurt sundae please. Oliver says he has to pee and as I lift the seat and wipe someone's splatters, he pees on my hand. "Mom, you shouldn't put your hand there when I'm peeing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" "Oh, I never thought about it like that." Said no mom ever.

He is finally undressed, the cheese straws are out, next pans in, Jack is eating. Into the bath goes O. Five minutes later J joins. An argument about a waterproof bendy doll named Soaker Bob ensues. Then a battle over scuba goggles. Do you have any idea how fascinating it is to scuba in three inches of bath water when all white tub surrounds you? Un.real. Surely each boy needs to see the amazing visions the tub offers at the same time which is now. Oliver, who has resumed wailing, pinches Jack and says "it was an accident." Puh-lease.

I pluck him from the tub and he says a girl in his class is mean and that he's having a very bad day. I hug him tight and give him some advice and try to get his Pull-up on. Have you ever tried to pull a Pull-up up chubby, wet legs? It is cute but it is not easy. It is like trying to get a wet bathing suit back on without it rolling and snagging so that you end up looking like you're wearing a sadistic twist-tie.

Jack's response to "sweetie, please get out and get your jammies on" is "I'm STARVING. You NEVER feed me enough. Ever. I'm starving." He slams the door. In addition to now knowing that staying up late last night was mos def a mistake, I think, "this load of horse shit again?" I am Ms. Cook for pete's sakes. My kids can attempt to blame me for many things, but not feeding them is never going to be a successful accusation. "Think it through, boys."

I ignore him completely and settle in to read Oliver a different story about Chinese New Year. Jack sidles up, kisses me, apologizes profusely, and as I look at his tired, sweet eyes, my heart aches with love, fading irritation and the compassionate 'ugh' I always feel when I remember how hard it is to grow up and feel you've made a mistake. "Don't worry, honey. I know you're tired."

Oliver wail-begs for another story so I agree IF I can choose. Knuffle Bunny it is because "going boneless" is the ultimate way to describe a melting-down toddler and I've got to hand it to Mo Willems for coining that one; it cracks me up every time I read it. Also, KB is not too long. "Don't think y'all can trick me into Mike Mulligan tonight, kids" I whisper to myself.

Finally they are in bed. I reheat chili for dinner, watch Downton with T and head to bed myself. G'night.