Friday, June 14, 2013


It’s 2:30 AM and you fell asleep again on the couch because the dog was whining and you can’t block out her cries like I can.  And you finally woke up and came to bed and apparently a dog howling won’t wake me, but the soft rustles of the sheets being pulled back are enough to make me bolt upright and bristle about insanely late hours as I squint at the clock and throw myself back to the mattress in a huff.  I’ll have to take your word for it because I don’t remember any of it.  But allegedly that’s how I react when you come to bed in the wee hours of the morning.

It’s 5:15AM and you’re shaking me awake, a very risky move considering how I treated you just hours before.  But you were having a dream that the chickens were clucking and then you realized that they really ARE clucking.  Loudly.  In the middle of the pre-dawn hours.  And your heart is pounding so hard because if you woke up then surely the neighbors did, too, and whatever sailor’s mouth response I might give is worth it if I can get them to stop.  NOW.  

It’s 6:45AM and the kids are dressed and ready to head down for breakfast  but they have to have their daily snuggle with you in bed and it used to be manageable when they were toddlers but now they’re small mastodons and our queen-sized bed groans when they lumber in with the delicacy of a wrecking ball.  There’s a 50/50 chance that you’ll take a shot to your gut as they squirm and knee their way into the crooks of your arms, all while you’re trying to squeeze in a few more minutes of sleep before I begin the Mother Yodel at 7AM. 

It’s 7:45AM and I’ve yodeled and urged and harangued the herd upstairs for toothbrushing and haircombing and it’s my turn for the 3 minute sprinkle that we call our showers these days.  Even though you’re still half-dozing, trying to get a total of 5 or so hours of good sleep, you’re on duty and it’s your job to keep each child separate from the others while they rotate through the bathroom and the cats, er, children know you’re not up to the challenge and they immediately begin their scratching and hissing and general clamoring and I can hear them in the shower and because I know you’re still dozing I have to yell at them through the walls to SEPARATE! and BRUSH BUT DON’T FLUSH (while I’m in the sprinkle because it will scald me) and GET YOUR SHOES ON!  And as I’m yelling I hear you scrambling down the hall to re-establish dominion over the herd so when I emerge with my wet hair and wild eyes I won’t have to holler like a sailor again.  

It’s 10:30AM and I’m upstairs cleaning the kitchen and I’ve reached the limit of where I can stretch my arm on the top of the fridge to wipe off the thick layer of dust that has collected back there so I call down to your office to see if you’re available to come up and finish the job because I know if I don’t ask you when the thought is immediately in my mind, it will be another six months until I remember and then there will be an even deeper layer of dust for you to wipe up.  And I try to explain as you walk up the stairs with pursed lips and fixed pupils that although it seems like I’m being unreasonable by asking you to do this favor in the middle of your work day, in reality I’m actually taking your allergies into account because wiping off one inch of dust is surely less troublesome than wiping off two, right?    

It’s 1:00PM and we’re standing at the kitchen counter, meeting over a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I slapped together in 30 seconds because I forgot to make you lunch.  Again.  For the third time this week.  Yesterday’s soccer game got canceled because of the rain and you’re going to be in north Jersey for work on the night it’s rescheduled so we’re flipping through our iPhone and Blackberry to see if we can somehow figure out a way for one parent to get three children to sporting events that span two counties and it’s just not possible.  So you offer to bump the jiu jitsu lesson to Saturday morning which is the only time slot this week that looks like it might be good for mowing the grass and Lord knows the grass will need to be mowed after all this rain and so we tap the new plan into our calendars and wipe the crumbs off the countertop and head off in separate directions for the rest of the afternoon.  

It’s 3:15PM and I’m calling you from the Kohl’s parking lot to see if you can squeeze a quick trip to the bus stop in before your conference call so the kids don’t have to walk up the hill alone.  It looks like rain and I’m at least 20 minutes away and I’m calling in hopes that you’ll be able to break away from your computer for a few minutes to fill in for me because I just don’t think I’m going to make it back in time.  And while you’re at it, can you check to see if I remembered to dry the baseball uniform and remind the kids to start their homework right away because we only have half an hour before we have to leave again for the fields?   OK, thanks.  I owe you one. Or two or ten.

It’s 4:30PM and I’m hollering down the stairs to let you know that I left a hotdog on a plate in the fridge for you and there’s some leftover macaroni and cheese, too, in a bowl on the bottom shelf by the lettuce.  I’m leaving for the ball fields and the other two are eating their hotdogs and they need to do their after-school chores before they play outside and don’t forget that it’s shower night for both of them so they should start that by 6:00 or there won’t be enough hot water for the third one when he gets home from his game.  Oh, and the cat threw up under the dining room table.  Can you clean that up when you come up for your hotdog?  

It’s 7:15PM and as I pull in the driveway I can see that you’re mowing the grass because the shed door is open and both side gates are, too, and as I unpack the van and send the mud-caked child up for his shower, I see you striding through the back yard with the mower cutting through the thick grass ahead of you.  I know you well enough to know that you checked the weather app and saw a big enough window between the storm clouds and decided that you could squeeze in at least the back yard before the next bands of rain arrived.  You look up and see that we’re home and you give a wave and a smile and I wave and smile back and then hurry inside to see which child needs my attention during the bedtime hour.

It’s 10:00PM and the sun has been down for over an hour and the children have been sleeping for almost that long and I hear the leaf blower finally rattle to an end and the garage doors are closing and I know that you managed to squeeze in the back, front and side yards tonight because you only leaf blow when you have to clean off the sidewalks and porch and you’ll be tremendously happy now that you won’t have to mow on Saturday afternoon.  And I hear you come in from the garage and the thump of your lawn sneakers hitting the floor means that you’re going to start a load of laundry right now so I holler down the hallway to throw the baseball uniform in with your grass-stained socks and you holler back that you already did.  And I open the fridge to heat up your hotdog and mac-n-cheese because I know you didn’t take the time to eat it before you went outside and I pour a glass of mint ice-tea and cut up a few lemon slices to drop in the glass because this week, I actually remembered to buy some.  And you holler from upstairs to ask if I have any gardening clothes that need to be washed and I tell you to grab the old jeans and tshirt that are laying across the back of the rocking chair and I open a bag of chips and pull out a sleeve of Oreos because you like salty and I need sweet.  

It’s 10:30PM and you’re fresh from the shower and the washing machine stopped running so I go and bump it with my hip and it starts running again and I pull up a chair at the table and we talk about the day that’s done and the day that’s almost here and I joke about how you missed your chance to escape while you were mowing.  I tease that you could have just kept walking down the street like you were headed off in search of greener grass to mow and how no one would’ve blamed you for needing a break.

It’s 10:35PM and you put down your glass of tea and the eyes that meet mine are quite serious and intent and you reach over and put your hand on top of mine and say 6 words that halt the minute hand’s march.  

But this IS the greener grass.   

And my heart stutters and the worry and guilt that have been lurking at the edges of my soul are evicted and breathing feels good again and I can’t believe how dandled and indulged I am, how blessed I am, how incredibly loved I am.  I can’t believe how easily you bend because when I try to bend I usually snap and everyone runs from the whiplash.  But you bend with such grace and I’m wordless at the words you’ve hung in front of me like a great glowing sun that takes a raindrop and breaks it into a rainbow.  And I turn my hand upward and lace my fingers with yours and we spend a few minutes just soaking in the quiet and then I hear the clock ticking and look up to see how much time I have before I begin my transformation into a prickly sailor once again.

It’s 10:45PM and I rinse the dishes and get out the peanut butter to make the children’s sandwiches and I set out the homework folders by their backpacks and stick a post-it note by the coffee pot so I remember to thaw the hamburg in the morning.  You go down to your office to finish up a few emails for work and you holler up the stairs that you don’t need a sandwich tomorrow because you’re meeting a customer for lunch and I’m thankful for that because I don’t think I have any ham left in the fridge.  I feel my legs begin to ache and that’s the sign that I need to head upstairs and wrap up the day so I call down to let you know that I’m going to bed and if you could put the wet clothes in the dryer when the washer stops spinning that would be great.  I switch off the kitchen light but turn back to tell you one more thing before I go upstairs.  

I’m sorry in advance if I yell at you in my sleep when you come to bed.  Ignore whatever I say.  Because I love you.  I really do. 

And you call back, I love you more, and I’m supposed to reply, I love you most, because we’ve been saying that for the last 18 years but this night I let you have the last word because it’s right to fasten it there.  

It’s 11:45PM and I’ve checked my email and Facebook and Pinterest for the last time and I’m weary and sapped but I smile as my feet turn down the hallway to the bedroom and I think that David had it right when he wrote the 23rd Psalm.  The Lord is our shepherd and we do have everything we need and He really does provide a place of rest in the green grass ... this greenest grass we’ll know 'til the other side of Heaven.   

Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup.  
You have made my lot secure.  
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.
Surely, I have a delightful inheritance.  
Psalm 16:5-6