One hundred and eighty days feels like it should be some kind of milestone. I’m not sure why. It’s not quite six months, it’s not like one hundred days, or two hundred days, or three hundred sixty-five days. Still, it feels like it should feel like something.
I suppose it does. It means I’ve been writing this one hundred fifty days longer than I intended, and one hundred and sixty-five days longer than I anticipated.
Writing this blog has been a really important thing for me. I’m not sure how long it will continue, or how it will develop, but I’m really glad I did it, and I’m very glad I am doing it.
Tonight I’m thankful for a lot of things, actually.
Spending even twenty-four hours with my grandmother can do that, and being able to catch my breath with my husband, even for a few minutes, can also do it, so when those two powers combine (like Captain Planet?), good things happen.
We arrived last night just in time to have dinner (Grandma said we would just order a pizza to keep it simple, but she made a ham, the most delicious potatoes on the planet, green beans, an orange-cranberry salad, and some other things, because she does what she wants), and by the time the kids were fed and cleaned up, the baby was ready for bed. HW took the older three kids in the pool after he helped with the dishes, and it was nice to have a few minutes of adult conversation with some of my favorite people, including one of my uncles.
I loved hearing them laugh, swimming and splashing around, playing games, knowing they were having fun and feeling safe and loved. Our oldest daughter has come a long way and can really swim, but the younger two clung to my husband most of the time, pretending to be a boat or a submarine or a star destroyer. When they got out they were ready for bed, and the grown ups talked about how to best solve the world’s problems until 11 before crawling into bed.
This morning the baby woke up at 6, ready to play, and made sure the rest of us knew about it. HW rolled out of bed, kissed my forehead, and whispered, “Go back to sleep,” four of the most amazing words a mother to young children can hear. The difference between 6 and 7, or even 6 and 6:45, is a serious thing.
We had breakfast, something our kids always look forward to having at Grandma’s, because usually there is some kind of treat, but mostly because she always puts together a giant platter of fruit. It’s what I imagine a fruit platter looks like at a super fancy hotel. It’s just a giant platter overflowing with six or seven or eight different fruits, and the kids eat the entire thing. Somehow, the next morning, a new platter appears. I have no idea where she keeps this fruit. A secret refrigerator compartment? A secret refrigerator? She might actually wake up at 4 am and sneak out to the store to buy more, I’m not sure, but it’s always there, and it’s always delicious, just like it was when I was a child.
After we played and got everyone dressed, we walked down to the tennis courts to hit a few balls. HW is not a tennis player. For one thing, he has no depth perception (literally). For another, well, he is not a tennis player. But he knows I like tennis, and Grandpa likes tennis, and the kids like tennis, so he enthusiastically grabbed a tennis racquet and led the way, and somehow managed to hit the ball, while holding a giant toddler in one arm. We had a great time. Our oldest found a new sport she loves, the younger kids mostly had fun chasing balls, and I got to see firsthand that my Grandpa is feeling much better after his hospital stay a few months ago.
When we finished, my grandparents showed us around the club. They constructed a new workout facility, redid the community pool, and expanded the bocce ball courts. The kids had never played bocce, so we decided to try it. It turns out, HW and I, we like the same things seventy year olds like. Bocce was great, and we would have played for hours. Actually, I think one night, grabbing a bottle of wine and walking down to the courts would make for a pretty great date night. Anyway, two rounds in, one of our children threw the main ball too hard and it bounced across a walking path right into some kind of canal, the kind of canal someone who grew up in the midwest imagines has alligators or crocodiles or at least some very nasty snakes. HW immediately moved to chase the ball, and even though he was too late, his efforts were greatly appreciated, as were his immediate efforts to comfort the thrower of the ball.
After all of that, the kids needed another swim, so HW put on his still very damp suit (there are few things in life he likes less than being slightly wet), and cannonballed into the pool with a smile. More splashing and laughing and swimming and playing. At one point, in an attempt to help our oldest how to figure out her dives, he demonstrated a belly flop to show her the difference. I watched, and I am certain it could not have felt good, but I could see her nod her head when she realized what she had been doing wrong.
Eventually we had to say goodbye, so we packed up the car, attempted to put the house back to the state it was in before our four tornadoes arrived, and drove home. We listened to Christmas music for a solid ninety minutes, at least sixty of those minutes Raffi’s Christmas, and finally it was just too much. I couldn’t even listen to Burrito Sabanero again. My brain just needed a break.
HW saw a sign that caused him to sing a few lines from a Tom Petty song, and I immediately knew that was the cure. I switched to my iPhone, pulled up the Tom Petty playlist, and we sang American Girl, with huge and ridiculous grins. When “You Got Lucky” came on and I knew every word, and sang it loudly, squeezing his hand purposefully, he was surprised and laughed and said, “I love that you love Tom Petty, which you clearly do, because who knows the words to that song?”
We both laughed, and it was one of those moments, a moment of true clarity, when I realized my life, our lives, are perfectly imperfect, and I felt a deep and true sense of gratitude. It was an amazing feeling.
And then we came home and discovered one child peed in a car seat, one of the dogs pulled the lights off of the Christmas tree (WHY?!), and there were tantrums everywhere. So we did a quick round of showers, frosted and decorated the last batch of Christmas cookies, and decided to watch Christmas Vacation after the kids are asleep and his work and my writing are finished.
So that’s what we’re going to do. We are going to sit on our perfectly imperfect asses while we watch a movie we’ve seen at least a dozen times and we are going to laugh at the same lines, and giggle when we realize and acknowledge how ridiculous we are.
And then we are probably going to have sex. Because that’s one of the other great things about being married to my best friend.