I sit on the floor, legs going slightly numb beneath me as I fold a small mountain of laundry. It’s a weekly occurence, but one that can engulf an entire evening. We’re watching a cheesy Christmas movie (my favorite kind) and the kids are milling around the room, in various stages of helpfulness.
“Say cheeeeeeese!” Eva points the tablet at me, a proud grin spreading across her face. She’s maneuvered to the camera and is taking pictures or videos. I oblige her, and watch her face freeze in concentration as she stabs at the shutter button.
“Good, good. Say cheese!” She repeats this whole process several times, and my attention fades with each repetition. At some point, I guess I’ve stopped paying attention, because I’m next drawn to her attempts at photography when she begins waving a block of actual colby cheese in my face.
“Say what this is, Mommy! Just say what this is!”
I laugh. She continues with the picture taking. I go back to my laundry torn between the two major epicenters of motherhood: guilt and delight. Guilt for being more involved with the laundry (admittedly, a job I dislike) than her photography. Delight at the perfect hilarity of a three-year-old’s logic.
The truth is that I want to see everything they want me to observe, and delight in every development. Another truth is that I spend a lot of my time mired in the morass of all the “things”. Laundry, dishes, cleaning, and cooking feel like sponges soaking up the remnants of whatever mental focus I have left after school. They’re all things that do have to be done. But I think the block-of-cheese moments are beacons and anchors–cast out, and firmly tugging me back into the light and knowledge of the mother I was made to be.
These are the days of little things. Silly blocks of cheese. The gentleness of a wild 5 year old boy settling for the night and snuggled in close. The tender pat-pat of a sleepy toddler’s hug around my neck. Snapping eyes and silly expressions from the girl whose height makes my breath catch sometimes, because she is all of the ages in my mind, but shifting everyday into a new, more grown version of herself.
All the million strands of different moments being spun together into the gleaming thread of memories–they all tug at me and I wonder. I wonder which threads will make up the fabric of their childhood. Will they be the threads where I’m working and distracted, struggling to find my way through the never-ending maze of housework and personal goals to a chorus of, “Mom? Mom? Mom?” Will I be absent from the tapestry? Lost to the laundry pile, and the kitchen, and the quest for clean bedrooms? Will the good times make it into the highlight reel? The kitchen dancing, cookie-baking, poetry tea-time days where I do pretty well as a mom and not-so-great as a housekeeper?
I hope I’m right there in the picture, laughing at a block of cheese while Eva takes her picture of the laundry.