Tonight I arrived home about 25 minutes before Jason was due back with the three older kids. It was around 9:00 pm. Julien slept in the Ergo as I noticed the stillness and darkness of the house. I took a deep breath and rolled my neck slowly a few times while I heard my muscles crack and snap and stretch. And then I began what mothers do.
I pulled the peed-on sheets of of our bed and Lyric’s bed and replaced them with clean ones. I placed a pillow and blanket on the girls’ beds as well as a comforter on Lyric’s, readying their sleeping spaces. I turned the girls’ light on low and cleared a path in the middle of the toys. I left the pile of rocks, which I jokingly have dubbed “Foot Acupuncture Station”.
The dirty sheets were stuffed in the washer, the dirty clothes collected from every room, the dirty cups and plates from the living room tossed into the side of the sink full of soaking dishes. I pushed the ingredients from the cookies I baked today against the back wall of the kitchen counter, lining them up neatly instead of putting them away. Scattered mounds of organic sugar littered the counters, a leftover from Lyric’s “helping hand” in my baking project. I swigged two glasses of cold water and gathered a pile of construction paper on the kitchen table into a neat stack. I tossed crayons in the art supply drawer, pushed in the kitchen chairs, and deposited the box of cereal on the top shelf of the pantry. I left the pile of legos on the kitchen floor, the secondary “Foot Acupuncture Station”.
I flipped on the patio and carriage lights and opened the front door. A cool breeze rushed past like a ghost. The late night air smelled of the blooming Jasmine lining our entryway and the moonlight spilled her milky rays all over our yard, outlining our grand Palo Verde tree. I stopped purposely in front of the open door and took it all in. It occurred to me how good it felt to prepare, if even so briefly and hurried, the house in waiting. How lucky am I to have a family to wait for, to construct a simple homecoming for?
Stepping outside, barefoot, I crossed over the smudged sidewalk chalk drawings; tic-tac-toe and self portraits. The dried Jasmine leaves rustled on the ground, filling the air like a tambourine. The music of the Palo Verde’s branches rubbing against each other reminded me of the creaking of the wooden rocking chair I’d just sat in hours before in my mother-in-law’s kitchen. In fact, while lounging in that chair (as I’ve done dozens of times) I wondered who she’d will that chair to many years from now? Because I love that chair, one handed down by her very own grandmother. It has an authentic squeak and creak of well-loved wood that I demand in a rocking chair. And I very much would love to rock my grandchildren to sleep in it.
The windchimes that the kids picked out for me for Easter hang from a tree branch and offer a soft twinkle to the evening. The entire tree sways with the wind and she is creating and whole night song. And so I think of the classical piece entitled “A Little Night Music” and I recall playing it on my flute during High School concert band.
I stand in the driveway, waiting, shuffling from one foot to the other in a gentle lullaby dance for sleeping Julien. A few minutes pass, and I hear the familiar rumble of a diesel engine and see the headlights from our truck turning the corner. A rush of intense love fills me as I watch the truck pull into our street. “That’s my whole life in there “, I say under my breath, in a way that’s more of a prayer than a statement. My man, delivering our snoozing children to me, to this house in waiting.
Our house, our home, our family, our life.