Once again, it’s been a while since I posted. I often feel like I need a certain minimum level of mental, emotional, or circumstantial stability before I can settle down to write, but the result of that is I never feel I can write. So enough of that – here goes:
Covid wrecked our household right after Easter. I was the first to get it, and I had about a day and a half to languish before it hit the next victim and I had to step up. My dad was last to get it, and he ended up in the hospital for several days. He recovered, but it opened a medical can of worms that has resulted in endless doctor’s appointments, tests, lab work, and a couple of ER visits. Steven has to take the baby when this stuff comes up, and the girls are left to their own devices at the house. It’s been a bit of a game changer as far as my father’s health going from good to questionable, and all the time and energy needed to evaluate and manage the new norm. I have a lot of mom guilt for how it’s affecting the girls, and the toll I imagined it was taking on them was confirmed when Evelyn got frustrated with her schoolwork while trying to find the area of a rectangle, hit the computer, and totally destroyed the screen.
I could make a nearly endless list of other events that have transpired, but instead I would like to give you a picture of one particular day that accurately represents all days. In this case, Wednesday.
It had been a long day, which is what I can truthfully say about every day. I had read my Bible, worked a bit on a Bible study I’m putting together, and exercised. I was simultaneously chasing Cosmo, who – while he isn’t walking yet – can crawl faster than a speeding bullet, and climb. He actually scaled my dresser the other day – which is an almost flat surface – if that tells you anything. When he finally decided to nap, I went down to the barn and rode one horse, and as soon as I came back in the house and shut the door, he was back awake and crying. Then there was more feed the baby, chase the baby, hold the baby, walk with the baby.
Now let me explain about feeding Cosmo: he is always hungry, but he is also always busy. He races from one toy to another, one room to another; from the window that looks out on the chickens, to the pile of cardboard recycling where he can play with the boxes; from my dad’s bathroom where the door is never shut and he can play in the toilet water to the pinball room where he tries to get ahold of Steven’s specialized repair tools and parts. So although he is extremely hungry, you have to chase him from one location to the next, get down on the ground with him, wait for him to pause, then aim frantically for his mouth and hope for the best before he takes off. Then you get up and follow him. If it sounds exhausting, it is. But if you sing “Doe, a Deer,” he will sometimes stay in one place long enough to eat more than one bite. And the bonus is that if you do get the food in his mouth, he will bury his head in your chest with happiness, then smear off all the excess food onto your clothing. If you are wondering why we jump through these ridiculous hoops to feed a child who is actually hungry and does, in fact, want the food we’re offering, it is because…THE SCREAMING. We are old, we are tired, and we can’t take it. We found what works, and we do it. And yes, I admit to feeling sorry for his future wife.
So – all of the baby wrangling was punctuated by nagging the girls a million times about their schoolwork and to clean up after themselves, and cleaning up after them once I gave up on nagging. There was also the hundred or so gentle reminders to my dad to get up, take his pills, eat breakfast, drink water (because he barely drinks), go for a walk, drink the water he forgot about, eat lunch because it’s already 5, take his walk because he fell back asleep and it’s now after 6, drink the water he forgot again, etc.
Somewhere along the line I went and rode a 2nd horse, did laundry, put up one set of horses and turned out another, and watered our new plants. With Cosmo trapped inside, banging on the French doors behind me and yelling, I took a moment to look at the different lettuces we had bought, some of them bright spring green-colored and others a deep purple. They were no longer quite as sad looking and a few were sprouting tiny new leaves. I glanced up through the exploding fuchsia blooms of the petunia in the hanging basket and saw the horses grazing in the field.
I checked on the droopy flame-colored flowers of the “Bee Bold” plant and smiled: they were beginning to stand back up and arc towards the sun.
Evelyn had announced that she wanted to ride that evening, and I was really pleased. Miranda grew up with lots of opportunity to ride, and it came easily to her. Evelyn didn’t have the same opportunities and we’re trying now to make up for it (more mom guilt) since my wonderful old horse Jazz is here for the summer. Steven got home, rested for a minute and snacked on bar-b-que chips. It was late in the evening by then, and overcast, but I packed Cosmo up in his carrier and we went down to the barn with Evelyn. Steven caught his horse and got him ready, and I did my best to help Evelyn groom and tack up her Jazz with Cosmo strapped to my chest. Steven and Evelyn then set off down the steep hill to the arena, but I took the long way around on the road. It’s hard to navigate a steep, grassy hill with big horse-hoof divots everywhere when you’re wearing a 25-pound 10-month-old.
I strolled to the arena because that was as fast as I could move, and began taking pictures of the horse Steven was riding, whose owner is in Spain for 2 months. I then helped Evelyn, who had a huge smile on her face and was singing to herself and Jazz, as they trotted slowly around the arena. I kept having to run up behind Jazz and shoo him so he would keep going. After a while I began jogging beside him and making clucking noises – the universal horseman’s signal for “go.” Cosmo thought that was a blast and started laughing hysterically as he bounced up and down in his carrier.
Soon, they finished riding and headed back up the hill, and I turned to go back up the road. I had made it about halfway to the barn; I realized I was limping from some unknown injury to my right foot, and Cosmo was SO heavy. My back was tired and my shoulders were hurting where the straps of the carrier had begun to dig into them. I could feel the tears starting to well up in my eyes and I kept trudging uphill. I let them run down my cheeks as I felt every muscle in my body begging me to stop.
And at that moment, the sun broke through the clouds and picked its way through the thick canopy of leaves on the trees. It made tiny waving patterns on the gravel, and everything got a little brighter. Even Charlotte stopped to look. The world was sparkling.
I am so happy, I thought. I love my life. But tears are running down my face. How do I feel all of this at the same time?
How am I both crying with exhaustion and overwhelmed with joy?
That is my life.
4 thoughts on “Both/And”
Awake in Kathmandu with jet lag, reading and enjoying your crazy life and grateful you can share it with us. Much love, Carol
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No enough hours in the day.
Wish I could help.
You are a wonderful person.
Moms need 4 arms and eyes behind our heads..
Take care of yourself.
Sending you big energetic hugs. I do not know how you do it all! You are amazing!!
I so enjoy your writing! You have all my love and respect. Life is hard and challenging, and I love the open way you share your feelings.