Of Long Days

These days.  These days slip away before I have a chance to to grab onto them and demand they slow down.  I stumble into them, with bleary eyes and rumpled hair.  And they bombard me, filled with demands: for milk, for toys, for the basic necessities of life, for attention, a book to be read, a game to be played.

I have my own plans: Finish the laundry.  Return that phone call.  Clean the bathroom.

And my own dreams: Write. Enjoy a novel and a cup of tea. Create a piece of art. Finish a cup of coffee while it's still hot.

But each of these things are pushed to the side.  They get folded and shoved into the corners.  The laundry gets not quite done, with a basket of clean clothes sitting in the living room, waiting to find its home upstairs before the baby plays the game of emptying it, piece by piece, onto the floor.  The phone call I will remember right before I go to sleep and vow to myself it will be a priority tomorrow.  The bathroom gets cleaned in bits and pieces, just like the dreams, if at all.

These days.  These days drag on in the afternoons, and I count the minutes until supper, as I referee squabbles, soothe scraped knees, make one more snack.  I ask for 10 minutes--just 10 minutes--of quiet.

And then we are tucking them into bed, as they beg for one more chapter in their book, one more drink of water, one more snuggle.  I'm not tired, they say through heavy eyelids.  I am, I say. And I hope they fall asleep soon so I have time to get back to those plans I made in the morning.  But I don't.  Instead, I crawl into bed soon after they shut their eyes.

These days.  These days, in the middle of the tiredness, in between the negotiating and wiping up spilled milk, I try to slow down.  To notice those big blue eyes looking up at me--sometimes though tears, sometimes in wonder, sometimes with a hint of mischief.  

I try to slow down and listen.  To their laughter as they build a fort in their princess dresses or chase each other around the yard with the water hose.

I try to slow down and watch in wonder as the youngest discovers how to make his toy truck zoom across the room, as the middle one dances for us after supper, as the eldest makes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich by herself.

If I watch, I see their creativity: this chair becomes a boat, this scrap of paper is a map, this rock is a jewel.  

I see their kindness: inviting a sibling to play, offering a toy, giving a hug.

 I see their desire to learn: Why did you do that? What is this? How does that work? 

I see their beauty and their love and their innocence.  

But only if I slow down.  Only if I pay attention.

These days.  These days are slipping away too fast.