Friday, June 24, 2022

It Feels Like a Long Time Ago Now...But Also Not

I was going through some of my old files recently, and found this one—from Day 51 of Quarantine, back in early 2020—and I couldn't get over how far away this feels, how many of the details I'd already forgotten, and how many still feel like they happened last month. And yet, that 5 year old is about to be 8. That little one starts kindergarten in a few months. Today's the last day of camp for her at her preschool and well, the feelings are being felt both sad and ready. 

Anyway, here's this, so it has someplace to live. 


Day 51. 

I have been with my kids, consistently, every day, for more than 50 days straight. We have developed a rhythm, the three of us. 

Breakfast to the sound of Abby Hatcher or Wild Kratts, or—when they look at each other and smile, their own secret signal—Ryan!, they scream. Schoolwork to the sound of a 5 year old counting to 100 and a 2 year old repeating, repeating, repeating the numbers alongside him—15, 16, 17, 41, 73, 89. Late morning, as I type emails, and fix sentences, as I check in with invoices and scroll through social media, it’s the tapping of lego’s, the screaming from the bedroom that she wont leave me alone and he wont stop that. I sit quietly, and mostly ignore them, drinking more tea. Usually, it calms down. Sometimes it doesnt, and I stomp my feet up the stairs, the high-pitched tone of my voice echoing through our small hallway: I said stop! I need 10 minutes to write this! I’m going to separate you! 

Lunch is another episode of Wild Kratts or Abby Hatcher, sometimes Ryan. Sometimes, they eat as they talk to my parents, my brothers, my sister in law on the phone. They talk about their day, they do puzzles. Then I take the phone, prop it up in the kitchen while I make something quick, eat it while I’m standing up. I’m done says the 5 year old, can I have the computer now? Yes, I tell him. Can i? asks the little one. Sorry lady, I say, it’s nap time. 

We lie in her bed, read her a book. When it’s closed, she turns her face toward the wall and I wrap my arm around her. I love you, I say. She whips her head around, her dirty blond curls covering the pillow, I love you she mouths, exaggerating her L’s. I cuddle with her and I close my eyes. Almost every day, I fall asleep for 10 minutes. Almost every day, I count down to 10, then force myself to get up. 

It’s quiet then, for the next hour. I walk through the living room, picking stuff up on my way. Sometimes, I go into my room and close the door. Type some more. sometimes, I put on bravo and watch the real housewives or summer house or vanderpump rules. Occasionally, I go downstairs on the treadmill. That doesnt happen very often, but when it does it feels nice. Mostly, I listen to the silence. 

She wakes up shortly after, her head sweaty and her curls slightly matted. Her face has those sleep creases, and she looks softer than usual. She asks for the phone, and I usually say yes. She sniffs out her brother and lays down next to him. Today, she was on her back on the floor of her room and he was on her bed. It reminded me of those long summer days as a kid, when you had a book or a tv show, and not much else. 

Soon after, our day starts up again. We go outside or we go to the kitchen or we go in the living room. I don’t know, usually, what we do. 

John comes home and, once he’s showered and back with us, they jump all over him. We talk about dinner, usually I sneak back into the bedroom for a few minutes to be by myself. 

Our dinners are the same as they’ve always been. The four of us facing each other across our rectangular wooden table. We play a game called trivia, where we make up questions to ask the kids. We quiz them on their favorite parts of the day and their least favorite parts. They always choose wisely, mulling it over. sometimes all four of us favor the same things. 

There is clean-up, and there are sometimes baths. There is arguing over teeth brushing and arguing over how tired we are. But then there is bed, and books. 

I turn the TV on, eat something else. There is a glow, and I am tired. 

There is a rhythm to all this, as there always was. But there’s a rhythm to us, as there wasn’t before.