by Michael Ryan
Fragile, provisional, it comes unbidden
as evening: the children on the block
called in to dinner that for tonight
is plentiful, as if it had cost nothing
either in money or worry about money.
Then evening deepens and the street
turns silent. There may be disasters
idling in driveways, and countless distresses
sharpening, but all that matters
most that must be done is done.
"Mama? What is covet and what is content?" asked the Mikey as we were driving one day. We had been listening to a bible song CD, I had only been half listening, thinking about all we had to do that day. After my explanation, he leaned back, thought a while and asked, "But what if what I covet is at the resale?"
That elusive contentment. We've been working on that in our house. Being happy where we are right now. I threw a fit yesterday. A big, ugly tantrum. Directed at the children, of course. I work, and I clean, and I wash, then I clean some more, but do you care? NOoooo, you don't care! You only care when I will give you the next thing, when I will buy you the next toy, how much candy you can get away with eating! I clean up, you destroy! You don't care about your mama! She's just here to serve you! There may or may not have been some throwing of books, some pitching myself on the bed in hot angry tears. There may have been some door slamming and just a little bit of stomping around.
In my defense, although, does that kind of ugliness deserve a defense?, the last few days the children have been especially crazy. Waking up grumpy, whining over each and every little thing, destroying all that is in their path. It is as if I have given birth to a miniature horde of Vikings, intent on pillaging the entire house. I tidy the living room, leave for two minutes, only to return and find chairs overturned, books spread from one wall to the next, blankets shoved in odd places, open markers staining the rug and floor, candy wrappers and sticky messes puddled on the couch cushions. And the odd thing is, there is no one in the room. Why? Because, task complete, they have moved on to the next room! The room I tidied immediately after the living room! To the ships! Steal the women, take the horses, burn what you cannot carry!
In the past I have stated that laundry is my Sisyphean task, but maybe keeping chaos at bay could be rolled into that laundry boulder. It's not as if I expect total cleanliness at all times. If you stopped in unexpectedly you would more than likely find a destroyed living room, natch, me wearing an apron and cooking something, and the children bouncing off the walls. Literally. Off of every single wall. And sometimes the ceiling.
It is just spring, I know. They have renewed energy, I have a new schedule which makes me more tired and a little grumpy sometimes, the days are longer and warmer. Soon enough we will find our rhythm again. More often than not, the house is put back together by bedtime. More often than not, we have snuggled and read, exchanged kisses and hugs, along with sweet endearments. So today when I walk into the bathroom and find water running in the plugged up sink, toilet paper unrolled all over the floor, and the entire contents of a gel stain stick spilled and hiding under all of our clean washcloths, I will grit my teeth and say, I am content. That's right, content.
And with that, I am done whining. Colorín, colorado, este cuento se ha terminado.