Cora was sick recently. Cora is never sick. She’s resilient. Charlie gets all the fevers and Jonas gets all the snot, but somehow Cora sails through, like her mama. But she didn’t make it past this one. The fever came, the naps stopped, the coughing started. And suddenly she had morphed into a different child. She wanted to be in my lap ALL THE TIME. I wasn’t complaining. She rarely gets cuddly like this. Normally, it’s like trying to hug a Lab puppy, fun but wiggly and short-lived. I held her for hours. She had that kid smell, the one that smells earthy but still clean even if they’re not.
The holidays happened and we were stuck in the same house/car/restaurant together for thirteen days. There was no dropping Charlie off at school, or me leaving to tutor, or the twins off to Mother’s Day Out. It was family time all the time. At first it was exhausting. Then it was invigorating, like that place you hit in a run where you feel like you could run for miles. Then it was back to exhausting.
When the routine cranked into gear again, I noticed something. Everybody wanted me more. The twins didn’t want me to leave to pick up Charlie from school even if their next favorite person (Gramma) was there. Cora wanted to eat breakfast while sitting on my lap. Jonas hugged my legs while I gently but steadily dragged him across the floor to reach my purse on the coat rack (the only place it will not get pillaged).
It was all the opposite of what I had expected. More time had not made everyone sick of each other. More time had made us tighter. It was the myth debunked. We really do like each other. I had gotten used to slower mornings, cinnamon rolls and baking blueberry bread “with” the kids (here, stir once, because mommy has control issues). I liked having Jody home for lunch. Marco Polo on Netflix and leftover Christmas turkey sandwiches. He wasn’t so bad after all. Random outings to the Discovery Center and zoo and Chuck E Cheese. All three kids learning to play together, three strands bound instead of separate entities. It all felt more chaotic, yet simpler.
The break was long and short. It was exhausting but fuller. The New Year and new routine arrived and I did not welcome it quite like I expected I would. These are all good things. It’s good to be reminded that these people in my circle, the closest branches on my family tree, are better than I could have guessed. It’s good to know that when they grow up and leave, I can still look at Jody and find something to say, manipulate him to rub my feet, tease him about the holes in his socks. I think the fear of the love not being there like it should often pushes the pace on so many families. We fill life with work and school and dance and tennis and play dates and Instagram until there is no room for the people. It happens to the best of us. But in these long days, I was glad to discover that when it all slows down, when the traffic clears, we still kinda dig each other.
Thanks Amanda for letting me Think Out Loud