Laughter and Noise

I have given an art print as a gift to many women upon the birth of a child, it reads, “There are lives I can imagine without children, but none of them have the same laughter & noise”   I realized Friday night that perhaps I need a refresher course in child rearing and care…I don’t know if it’s because I only had one child of my own, that sometimes tending to three seems to overwhelm and exhaust me, or if maybe I am simply too old or set in my ways to be anything other than a babysitter, although Halle Berry is a year older than I and pregnant, so I’m young enough still to be a mother, but I don’t know if I am still any good at “mothering” as they are not at all the same thing…

I love the daughters of my daughter and son-in-law, and often, when I watch them walk the few hundred feet home, as they leave my house for their own, I feel my heart swell as I see the sun glimmer off their hair and I feel this intense sensation of adoration, and realize that they are really the light of my life and that my world in many ways revolves around them.  Every other weekend my world grows more full when the daughter of my boyfriend is here too.  Why then, I asked myself  late Friday night, do I get so irritated over the clothes left on the floor, the Monster High shoes strewn about the coffee table, or the sticky fingerprints from lip gloss and eye liner dress-up time near every light switch and every door jamb??

After they were kissed goodnight and tucked into bed in the loft, I went downstairs to read and I fell into a deep sleep…I awoke two hours later and heard laughing and little feet running around and I stomped upstairs and expressed my annoyance and told them to get back to bed and that, “I don’t want to hear another word,” but when I got back to my room I felt a deep sadness and regret for what I had said, I thought, wow, what would I feel inside if I never heard them again…you see, it’s been a sad many days here…my son-in-law and daughter lost their dear friend last week, a death so unexpected and so unfortunate in so many ways, and Friday morning’s funeral memorial was so sad…I hugged and cried with a woman who I had never before met, who I am quite sure wanted more than anything in the  world to hear her son’s voice, even just one more time…so I felt awful for what I had said to the girls, because I suddenly found myself thinking about what my father always says, “tomorrow you could be run over by a pie wagon” and I felt an ache for how awful it would be if I died and those were the last words I said to these children, or if something happened to one of them, and those were the last words they heard come from my lips…and I started to cry.

I don’t want to be so consumed with my neat and orderly house that I miss the life that should be lived IN the house.  I don’t want to care so much that they go to bed when they are supposed to, it is the weekend after all…I don’t want to care so much that I have to spend an hour or two reorganizing and picking up after they leave, I don’t want to care so much that they change their clothes four times in a day, or scuff the toes of their shoes while they ride their bikes…I want to be better at mothering, although I am not their mother…and I apologized to them Saturday morning for raising my voice, that I want their time here to be joyful and fun and I want them to feel nothing but loved when they are in this house…I realized this weekend that I cannot imagine a world without them in it, and if I had to live a life without them, I would so dearly miss the laughter and noise…

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