This evening just before 8pm, my ragtag crew piled into the car and headed to a point higher than the plot on which our house stands. Jack's class is studying China, and in anticipation of tomorrow's celebration of today's Moon Festival, he is to have observed the moon and his reactions to it throughout the past week.
Wednesday night was successful (just look at that photo Tom took!), Thursday was vetoed because of an overtired meltdown, Friday and Saturday nights were too cloudy to view anything, and although tonight is still overcast, the clouds were moving on the wings of a hasty wind. We figured we could glimpse something if we got to an elevated space free of trees.
Once at the triangular patch of grass at the intersection of Nebraska and Van Ness, we tumbled out of the car, plastic telescope and clipboard in hand. Tom was the only one not wearing pajamas. Jack was dressed in long-sleeve and pants orange-and white-striped skeleton jammies, with the shirt tucked in dramatically; I had on a matching set covered in hydrangea blossoms; and Oliver was, unsurprisingly, wearing a mismatched pair that included an inside-out shirt and bare feet.
I'm certain we looked incredibly bizarre. But sitting in the grass as a cool breeze gusted, we glimpsed the gorgeous moon for a brief time and felt happy.
It was a blessedly tranquil moment during a weekend which has had quite a few highs but also some real lows. Perhaps all families with young children live their weekends on such a roller coaster. Some may be better suited or able to handle mayhem, cacophony and filibuster-scale chatter.
I, myself, wish we could disembark on occasion instead of being strapped in to the front seats on Friday at 5pm and forced to climb, loop and fall until Sunday after dark. I'm tired of being so enervated by simply experiencing a weekend.
That word connotes such leisure and relaxation. Weekend suggests catching up on sleep and togetherness, lazy afternoons and all-day pajamas if you like.
We've got the togetherness and all-day pajama parts down pat, but leisure? Relaxation? Sleep? Time for individual pursuits? I don't know what the hell you mean.
Even the peaceful lulls ask something: that a movie be turned on or that we adults put our own desires to bed or that we be waiting to pounce (and able to immediately relax) when the stars align and the kids play without calling to us for longer than fifteen minutes.
Do you know that by 9:30 this morning, after I'd made beignets and hung out, I'd listened to Jack try to engage me in conversation about the periodic table for upwards of ninety minutes? People, I wasn't capable of managing that in college (I'm not joking; I was a ghastly chemistry student), much less on a Sunday morning. I'm also not super interested, as I feel confident that I know as much about carbon and iridium as I'd like.
So, I armed him with two dictionaries and a wikipedia page, and asked/pled/demanded that he study by himself while I did some work for class. Suffice it to say that did not work, and I felt both defeated and angry. Pissed. Because a brain can only take in so many insistent requests for needs other than its own before starting to fritz out.
Ol, meanwhile, had taken every toy out of every bin and tried on and then discarded every costume. Tom and I were tripping over plastic tools and MagnaTiles and Lego men and toothpicks and acorns and books. And the house looked like it threw up in itself. And I just could not take all of that input. I can't.
By the time we reached the little patch of grass where we stationed our observatory tonight, it was roughly 13 hours after our day began. Jack, armed with two shiny new reference books, was still talking about the periodic table, and Oliver had just eaten half the noodles off my plate even though Tom took them out to dinner earlier.
I was happy in that grass, but getting there felt Herculean. It's hard to balance all the various energies needed to parent well, maintain a marriage, stay connected to friends and self and keep your heart open enough that despite fatigue and frustration, you're at the ready to appreciate the golden moments in which lovely memories are made.
It doesn't feel possible sometimes. The moon hides, the grass is scratchy, you never knew what ytterbium was in the first place.