I want to write, but three in children in four years has tuckered me out.
Instead of words, there are toy horses hiding in the corner of my room mocking me, Will you let me sit here and stare at you while you think and ponder and write or will my presence so unnerve you that you are forced to return me to the third-floor playroom, and, in so doing, be distracted by half a dozen other things calling your name?
I let the horse sit and stare at me.
My days are filled with sorting toddler underwear and trade negotiations over favorite toys. (In the middle of writing this last sentence, the voice of my four-year-old trickles down the stairs, just as I’m settling in with my blanket, after a day of birthday shopping, writing for my paid job, toting children to and from school, lawn mowing, dish washing, and bath giving.)
“Mommy, you didn’t give me a goodnight kiss.”
I peel myself away from my relentlessly cozy $3 IKEA blanket and heave my weary bones up and around our crooked staircase, where my chubby-cheeked towheads sits at the top of the landing.
“How did you like the first day of pre-school?” I ask her, wrapping my arms around the base of her body, as I kneel on the top steps. She nods and tells me she liked it.
“Mommy, can you carry me to bed?”
She still aches to be my infant, even as her body and mind expand beyond her wishes.
I pick her up, carry her to her bed, pull the blanket up around her body, and sidle next to her. Her pudgy hands form a V at the top of her forehead and wipe down her face. She’s beat.
“Mrs. R. let me be the ‘weather girl’ and then we learned about the ‘Lion and the Mouse’ and then we went to the bathroom and I washed my hands by myself and then I had a cupcake and an apple and then we went to the playground.”
“I think you’re going to like school,” I tell her, trying to pry myself away.
“Yes,” I try not to groan.
“Can I have a drink of water?”
After fulfilling the request, I continue my attempts to say goodnight, trying unsuccessfully until my husband is called in for backup.
I make my way back to the couch and my pen, hearing in the background the subtle cries of my nine-month-old who is working her way through new teeth and a diaper rash and the softly shrill vocalizations of my seven-year-old as he plays superhero in his bed.
My cranium seems to press down the rest of my frame, my arms gaining gravity with each stroke of my pen. The cushions envelope me.
It is a normal night. It is a good night. It is the reason I don’t write much anymore, despite the fact that I am most likely living through the most substantive, write-worthy part of my life so far.
And so instead of feeling guilty that I don’t do more of this, I choose to enjoy that calming cup of tea or glass of wine as I traipse up the stairs however many more times are needed before the snores are heard, and be grateful for the rare moments when the pen (and not my head) meets the paper in any sort of meaningful way.