I dropped Alex and Lila off on the bus this morning and remembered this day, All Saints Day, six years earlier. As the bus pulled around the corner and lurched to a stop, I remembered driving right where stood, in the same silvery morning light, on our way to meet our first daughter.
I remembered her, just a few hours later, curled in my arms. I remembered the moment the mystery of a mother’s heart was revealed to me – the moment I loved her, as much as (and without borrowing from) my love for her brother.
Then the bus moved onward and I followed behind it, with my youngest two children. No time to wax nostalgic when birthday shopping at the mecca of mediocre merchandise awaits.
I spent an hour pushing one of those ginormous carriages intended to hold two children in seats and then one baby in the carriage part itself – the ones that NEVER make a clean turn around a corner and that no child ever actually STAYS in for the duration of a shopping trip. The type of carriage that other shoppers cross aisles to avoid when they see you coming.
I spent ten minutes with a snotting, wriggling, one-shoe-off-one-shoe-on, one year old in one arm, while trying to pull down a precariously perched 20″ bicycle with sparkling handlebar streamers, from it’s rack and to my giganto-cart, with my other.
I spent another fifteen minutes getting lost in the pretty princess aisle, convincing Asher to choose anything other than the $50 box of Disney Princess Barbies to give as a gift. Yes dear, they look nice in the box, but Bean will just leave them naked and disheveled and probably outside buried in some dirt.
In the gift wrap aisle, I literally picked up and put down three different rolls of paper and seven varieties of ribbons before reminding myself that this – all of it – is just a pretty tube of paper, waiting to be torn to shreds and shoved into a garbage bag. I settled on plain pink and called it a day.
Thinking I had time to spare, post-shopping and before the bus returned, I went to the town hall to register our new van. There, I waited for the next available person and was told a quick Sorry, no-can-do and to return with a piece of paper that I didn’t realize I needed, and that wasn’t in the van.
And then, in an out-of-body, who-have-I-become sort of moment, I am pretty sure I glared at this perfectly nice woman behind the counter. And I huffed. I walked out of the office, grumbling (loudly) to Asher that we’d have to come back later, if we were able.
I tromped back to the car, Evaline now fully flailing at the sight of the van, knowing I was just going to strap her right back in. I rolled my eyes at everything – stupid government red tape, stupid piles of paperwork. Why do I need to jump through hoops and shell out hundreds of dollars just to drive a car that I own and have had inspected? Shouldn’t we be able to do this all electronically by now? Is there a reason we (taxpayers) are spending our money on keeping five women employed sorting piles of papers from 8-4 when we could do things much faster and with less paper and fuss, if the government just got out of our way?
Then, as I buckled Evie (fully arching her back in car seat protest), another vehicle came and parked – of all of the open spaces – directly beside me, making my pulling out a little less convenient.
Harumph times two.
I pulled into our neighborhood, just in time to wrap and hide gifts, clean a completely disgusting diaper and race to grab the birthday girl from the bus.
And then there was my girl, with her smile, her Look Who’s 6 button clipped to her new dress, her pride upon showing me her contest-winning colored picture, it was my Lila who brought me right back to myself.
My exhausted, burnt out self.
You see, it’s November 1st and I have been working non-stop since May. My once quiet, silvery-morning-light-and-sweet-little-babies life from six years ago, is now a war zone of laundry piles and dishes and something sticky underfoot, no matter how many times I clean the floor. Oh, and so, so, so much work to catch up on.
But this is why we celebrate birthdays. Not to spend hundreds of dollars on gifts and then wrap them in silly amounts of papers and bows – but to pause and remember the moments we have come from, the lives we are connected to, the love that we share.
And so, for today, I’m going to slow down. Even if only long enough to watch clips of baby Lila falling asleep into her bowl of Spaghetti-o’s or to sit and enjoy a birthday sundae with my special girl and our family.
Tomorrow can wait.
(And maybe, maybe, after giving myself a little extra dose of peace, tomorrow will be greeted with a little less harumphing and a little more smiling.)