An Extra and Ordinary Wednesday
“Mama! I peed in my bed!” my three-year-old yells as he slams his bedroom door shut behind him. I check my phone: 6:57am. It’s earlier than my earliest riser normally wakes, and it feels like a black cat has just waltzed its way across my path, foreshadowing dread into the day to come.
“Quiet!” I whisper yell down the stairs, “Come up and hop in Mama’s bed.”
His tiny, naked body rounds the corner and he shuffles up the stairs, unintelligible phrases about all things pee flowing out of him like the drip of a faucet that’s been just barely left on.
“Yes, yes, we will sort it out later, just be quiet and climb in my bed now, buddy,” I reply through sleepy eyes and retainer-taste mouth.
We both crawl into my bed, him in my spot, me on my husband’s empty side. I drift into a half sleep as the steady rhythm of his breath begins to slow and the sun continues its rise in the morning sky. Just before his breath calms completely, he whines about wanting milk. I stumble my way out of bed to heat up a sippy of just-so warm milk like I do for him every morning. Back in bed, he snuggles close to his milk, eyes closed, as I curl my body around his and we drift off to sleep.
“Mama! I’m hungry,” he says.
I check my phone: 8:26am. Not bad. I pull on an old gray t-shirt and we make our way down to the kitchen for breakfast. The first thing I see are the eggs overflowing on top of their carton, thanks to our four ducks who have recently begun to lay. I slice up a few apples and peanut butter and start scrambling eggs. My three-year-old eats peacefully as I divvy up the eggs into four equal portions, anticipating the rest of the circus waking up, and then head into the laundry room to fold the clean clothes.
When I hear a scuffle outside, I peek out the back door to find my seven-year-old and eighteen-month-old tossing rocks into a bucket they use for catching toads. My oldest is happily chattering away to his baby brother as they bask in the glow of the golden morning sunshine. The sight of them sends a warm glow through my spirit. It’s both extra and ordinary, and it’s just what my heart needed to keep pattering away in the middle of a long week.
Before long, all four boys are huddled around the table eating. My oldest fidgets, his body a constant rotation of sitting, standing, kneeling until I begin reading Harry Potter aloud to them. We all make it through Harry almost falling to his death in the middle of his first quidditch match, and the boys, who’d spent their breakfast on the edge of their seats, jump up to clear their plates and head downstairs to play. I’m reminded of the captivating power of stories, and I sit for a moment to think about the kinds of stories their lives will tell. Stories, similar to Harry’s, of bravery and heroism, I hope. Stories of fear and frustration; laughter and joy; success and failure; and all things in between. I’m sure of it. I think about how, like Harry’s story, their stories have completely captivated my life.
My husband texts me, pulling me out of my reverie to remind me of the mosquito people coming. I yell downstairs to let the boys know I’m headed outside to mow the lawn before they arrive. Somehow, they are all hungry, my very own pod of tiny hippos, so we grab some fruit to bring with us. I turn on an audiobook for them as they sit on the back porch to eat, and then I run to the garage for the lawn mower. The next hour feels like rush hour in Chicago, stop and go–for banana peeling and squabble refereeing and slowly pushing the mower along in the blaze of a hot, summer sun.
Somehow I finish the lawn before the techs come, and we all settle in the driveway for some morning schoolwork. My two preschool-aged kids are tracing letters in chalk, practicing writing their names in the driveway. They match uppercase letters to their lowercase brothers, their wobbly handwriting like the path forged by a new bike rider. My oldest is reading aloud to me as the others work and pops into their conversation every once in a while for a little “encouragement” (“E says elephant and egg, what else does ‘E’ say?”). It’s an ordinary scene and, yet, the most extraordinary thing to me that my boys get to learn and grow together, spending their days teaching each other, listening to each other, and working together side by side.
When the mosquito people arrive, we head inside to finish up our study of frogs. They eat bowls of oatmeal as we look through a wordless picture book about a little boy who tries to catch a frog. My sweet four-year-old decides to tell the story in his own words. I write down his “story” word for word and then read it aloud. We all cheer and praise him for being an actual author, and the smile on his face makes up for countless bad moments.
I put the baby down for his nap while the older boys head downstairs to continue building whatever Magnatile rocket ship they’ve been working on. When I come out of the bedroom, the house is as quiet as a sunrise over a still lake. I settle in at the table with my journal to document our day and pray over the rest of our week.
My husband comes home shortly after. It’s only 2pm, but he is working overnight tonight and is hoping to take a long nap in preparation. We spend some time chatting uninterrupted, an occurrence almost as rare as a lunar eclipse, and it feels like nothing and everything all at the same time. It’s a luxury to sit across from each other in the middle of an ordinary Wednesday and share our hearts.
Before he heads up to bed, he makes a quick stop in the basement to see their “hunormous” rocket ship and to give the boys a hug.
After math, a quick card game, and schlepping everyone to and from soccer practice, we are back on the front steps, reading once again from Harry Potter and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The evening light fades to a dusky blue. It’s almost 8 o’clock, and my husband is leaving to go back to work for the night. We all kiss him goodnight and shuffle inside, bodies tired, resisting the promptings of rest. I pretend to be the kissy monster and chase them all around the house until I catch them, one by one, and kiss their faces. They shriek with laughter. Each time I catch one, he is sent downstairs for teeth brushing and climbing into bed, and, by the time I get downstairs with the baby, everyone is ready for bedtime stories. I read about Josefina Javelina, May and her roller skate wannabe dog, and of course Harry Potter. As my three-year-old climbs into bed, I realize I never washed his bedding covered with pee from this morning. Too late now, at least it’s dry! We’ll tackle that in the morning.
I dole out kisses and I love yous like I’m Santa and it’s Christmas morning and then softly click the door shut behind me. My stomach rumbles, and I realize I never actually ate a full meal today. I heat up some leftovers and sit down at the table.
I think about how ordinary today was. I think of all the small, extraordinary moments like little shooting stars beaming across my field of vision: fast and fleeting, yet so beautiful when you catch a glimpse. I think about how easy they are to miss, these moments of extraordinary beauty, and how I long to keep my eyes and heart open wide enough to see them.
I think about the four beautiful little boys slowly sinking into sleep beyond their door. The four little stories I’m privileged to play a small part in writing. A light switched off, a door closed, one more page turned in the novel of their lives.
I think about my husband, the one who’s made all of our dreams come true: mine of mothering and homeschooling and being fully loved, theirs of adventure and excitement and being fully loved. He works hard every day to give us this life, and he comes home every night to remind us that we are, indeed, loved.
I think about this morning, how I thought the day was off to a horrible start. Bad mixed with good; good mixed with great; beauty and mess all seamlessly woven together.
This, I’ve realized, is really the essence of life–of motherhood. That on the heels of every hard thing comes something good, just like the crash of a meteor into the earth’s atmosphere becomes the beautiful burning of a shooting star. Blink and you miss it, but lend yourself to full awareness and the magic of it changes your whole being. Each small moment noticed.
Bonnie LaRusso is a homeschooling mom of four boys. She married her summer camp sweetheart, and they live in a lodge in the suburbs of Chicago. Her work has been featured on Coffee + Crumbs, The Kindred Voice Blog, and Holl and Lane Magazine. You can find her on Instagram @blarusso