It’s 9:30 at night and I’m standing in the kitchen with a ziplock bag in my left hand and my right hand buried in a box of Lucky Charms. My kids don’t actually like Lucky Charms as a whole. They do, however, like the marshmallows. Pea learned years ago to quit asking for them because “I’m not buying an entire box of junky cereal and watch you make it even worse by only eating the marshmallows”. There is something about that box, though…Little Bear went banana sandwiches to have it today as we swung through the cereal aisle. Little Bear is one of those “willful” children that gets loads of articles written in HuffPost offering prayers to their mothers and promises that they will “be leaders” and not kill us. Or something to that effect. Anyway, I bought the damn cereal. I still had groceries to buy. I’m not even sorry. If he had asked for a pony, I would have given him that, too. You don’t EVEN know. Anywhoooo, now I’m standing in the kitchen with said box. And I’m fishing out the marshmallows and putting them in a bag for Pea. I’m stashing it in his lunch box tomorrow so that he will open it and feel joy and know that I love him more than all the moons and stars and heavens above. Or at least just smile a little bit.
I had to break down all the Amazon boxes in the garage this afternoon in order to fit them in the recycling bin. I never buy things in actual stores. See above comments about willful children and ponies. I’m not made of money, folks. So cardboard is always cluttering the garage. The boys thought this was the most fun they’d ever had. They pulled lawn chairs, two coolers, dad’s entire set of some tool I don’t know the name of, two pool noodles, a giant box of bamboo plant stakes (Previous owners? Plant stakes?!), five random bricks, Pea’s rock collection from 2010, a mallet (!), the shop-vac, an outdoor extension cord and four left over tiles out into the driveway. Oh, and a large bowl of Chex Mix and two drinks, which Pea made and spilled all over the kitchen. They had a GRAND TIME, friends. I think they were being ninjas, but I’m not entirely sure. I had to say “don’t sword fight with the bamboo stakes!” about 75 times and at one point Little Bear figured out that knocking over the “brick tower” with ninja kicks caused the bricks to break, which made him very VERY happy about his existence. They were so dirty that they resembled Pig Pen from Peanuts by the time we had to come in for dinner. And it took me just as long to clean up the driveway as it did to break down the cardboard. But THE JOY. Their dusty faces were lit up from within. We laughed as we hunkered over the sink and watched the water run brown from our hands. And then I reheated pizza for Bear and empanadas for Pea and brought my own salad out in the backyard where we had a dilapidated looking dinner on the tiny toddler picnic table. I couldn’t fit, so I sat on the floor and told Bear not to jump from the top of the playhouse about 50 times in between Pea telling me every last detail about what he’s building in Minecraft.
Pea has two rats. Minnie and Maisie. He researched and prayed and asked and dreamed and we made him wait A YEAR, but finally broke down in June. Yes, they have long tails. No, they don’t look like those ugly things in the sewer. I actually think of them as Disney characters and continue to be annoyed that they don’t make me spaghetti. But I digress. They live in the lap of luxury in a giant cage in the playroom upstairs. My child who swore up and down and around the corner that he would take care of the rodents doesn’t take care of the rodents. Because OBVIOUSLY. As it turns out, I will not tolerate the smell of rats in my house, so I clean the cage constantly. To MY standards. It takes up my Scandal watching time. I do it anyway. Tonight was cleaning night and I hunkered down in the playroom with a bottle of 409 and a roll of paper towels and did what I always do. I hurried because we were running late and it was bedtime. The bathed boys had disappeared and I hurriedly wiped down the cage and tossed in new bedding so that I could find out why it was so quiet and what may or may not be on fire. As it turns out, Little Bear had wandered into Pea’s room. Pea was watching one of his endless Minecraft videos (why are they ALL British?!?!) and Bear was all the way under the covers with him, nestled into the crook of his arm. I decided in that moment that our rats don’t even have to make pasta in order to earn my love…they gave me this moment.
After I fished the baby out of his bed and turned off the annoying sounds of Little Kelly playing Minecraft, I scooted Pea over and climbed into his bed. I kissed his forehead and told him what a great helper he was in the grocery store today and began rattling off all the reasons that Little Bear would be lost without him. His anxiety rears it’s ugly head when he’s trying to go to sleep, so we have a tried and true routine of chatting about mindless things while he’s nodding off. It keeps the darkness at bay. Tonight as I’m doing this, he got a strange look on his face. I stopped talking and quickly asked if he was okay. His answer? “Yes, mom. I was just watching you talk and thinking about how you are the best mom in the whole world and I just…I don’t know…I’m just thinking about you.” And with that, I am full to the very top all over again.
I won’t remember the scene in the driveway or the $5 box of cereal that I didn’t need to buy or how tired I was while cleaning that stupid rat cage. This giant conglomeration of days and nights and shenanigans called childhood will morph into fuzzy memory and I’ll definitely remember some highlights in vivid detail – but not the minutia. I can assure you, though, that I will remember that they loved me more than all the moons and stars and heavens above and I was their best and only girl for just a little while.