If our house was an abandoned lot, books would be the weeds. They’ve taken over every surface in the house – baskets on the floor, toy shelves, stacks by the bed, the coffee table.
I can never say no to books. They come from trips to the library, ten cent splurges at the thrift store, or that intoxicatingly enticing Scholastic book fair.
And yet, there are some days that I took my children into bed and realize we haven’t read a page. The day flew by, cluttered with sweeping, rocking, wiping, driving and eating. “Tomorrow,” I tell myself, “tomorrow we will cuddle on the couch and read book after book.”
Tomorrow comes and the story is the same. Sweeping, rocking, wiping, driving. I get the baby down for her nap but they are busy playing. They are bored but now I am cooking. Night time comes and as soon as their pajamas are on the baby calls for me. I rock her to sleep, listening to my husband read to them.
“Savor this moment!” everyone tells me, as spit up drops down my shirt and the cries of yet another who-had-the-hot-wheel-first argument rings in my ears.
“Let the housework wait another day!” everyone says as I step on Cheerios, rushing to grab a LEGO out of my baby’s mouth
“You’re so lucky to be able to do this!” everyone says as I hold back tears from another day where everyone needed me, me, me.
My oldest started kindergarten last week. I did not wonder where the time had gone. It was folded into the thousands of piles of laundry I had done. It fills the footprints we left behind on trails. It’s tucked between the sheets and washed off our dishes.
It does not seem like yesterday that he was a baby. This is the best and worst part. The days have been long and the years have been long too. I have gotten to fill them, albeit not always as I please. We have had five long years to love, to suffer, and to laugh together. Five long years since I’ve seen those sweet baby smiles.
I cannot cherish every moment, nor do I want to. Some days I am glad to wash down with a hot shower and a lager.
In twenty, thirty years, I am sure I will wish I had done it all different. Read more books, kissed more heads, watched more clouds by. Perhaps by then I will have forgotten about the laundry, the dishes, the fighting, the yelling, the driving to and from appointments. Maybe by then I will just remember the times we cuddled on the couch and read stories.
I can’t fill my days like that. But maybe I can at least fill my memories.