I tore myself away from the laundry smelling void of anything - void of fragrance because the artificial smells give my oldest son a painful case of eczema. Raw and sore and needing a hot shower and ointments late at night. So I put down the nothing smelling socks and undershirts and followed my nose outside where all three of them were riding scooters down the driveway this afternoon. Orange trees bearing, lemon trees budding, and the jasmine just starting to open her aromatic petals.
Engulfed in the fragrance I sat on the cinderblock wall and drank it all in. The whooping and the hollering and the squeals of, "Watch me, Mama!" All of it fragrant. So I inhaled deeply, until I was drunk on their joy.
Now don't you for a moment put me on some motherhood pedestal where this pulling away from chores to bathe in their laughter comes easily. For all the times I do sit and enjoy my little people, there are a hundred and ten times I find another room needing my attention. For all the times I carry out fragrant-less chores from room to room, there are people bursting with the flavor of life running in and out of the front door.
But the confession is more than that... their colorful lives that smell of citrus and sunshine often times get in the way of my grey existence when I have an agenda to get through. And then, on top of that, I have these dreams. Dreams of having some alone time and writing out a story and making something beautiful on a canvas to adorn the walls here in our home.
But then I hear then singing. Loud and sure. I hear them strumming and singing and splashing in the backyard and I know that I must give in to real life in their midst. Because their muscles are growing larger and stronger and their eyes are shining brighter, and their heads are taller than they were yesterday. And I don't want to miss this.
There are countless blog posts floating around the internet today about the top things our children need from us during this tender fleeting stage, but this past week I've been aware, (aware to the point of heartsick!) of the ways I keep rushing past my own need to savor my children before they are grown. I am daily aware of my temporary needs to get rest and a workout and a laugh with friends, but there is a deeper need than that right here in my home. Though I feel it or not, my deepest need, here in the midst of motherhood, is to taste and experience each day that smells of earth, each kiss that smacks of maple syrup, each laugh that shakes the eucalyptus leaves. I need to live, truly live it with them.
Today as my youngest wrote "Be My Valentime" again and again on 19 envelopes, I thought, "This may be the last time a boy in my home says Valentime. Valentime. And I just couldn't bring myself to correct him.
So when he addressed his last note and turned to ask me for a game of dominos, I just had to say Yes. There he was, all cozy in his jammmies and holding the bear he breathes soft nighttime breath into night after night, so I put down the dishes and said, Yes. Because there is power in our yeses. I already knew that was true. I knew that they needed our Yeses to believe they are loved, I just didn't know how much I needed those sacred yeses too!
Yes, I will savor this moment with you before it has passed us by altogether, like dominoes falling one day after another. Yes, I will leave those dishes till another time. Yes, I will come out and watch you skate and come to your room to see the fort you've made. Yes, I will sit down and have a mug of cocoa too as you tell me all the names of your Hobbit Legos. And, yes, I will sing you one more song tonight.
I want fragrant memories of these years together, and those can only come from having lived fragrant days by their side. Not driving them from one place to another, not talking at them while forgetting to listen to them, and most assuredly not by breathing the same air in our home whilst forgetting to stop and really breathe them in... deeply.
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
So I got down on the floor today and sat on cinder blocks and wasn't ready for dinner. And I touched their soft skin, already prickly with "man hair." And I told them made up stories about what college is going to be like and how tall they will grow to be. And I told them that their wives will all smell of peaches in the summertime and how they will take their families to the beach with all their kids. Their kids will all be cousins together. And there was so much giggling. All of this falling one into the other, like dominoes being played out on dusty hardwood floors.
So goodbye and goodnight and farewell, because I have people to love here in my home. And you have your people there in yours. So let's close for now. Without 10 things they need from us, remembering only this one simple thing that we desperately need.
Because we need Yeses too!