It hardly seems possible
that September is more than half gone. There is a funny nip in the air at night, and more and more leaves each day on the patio from the mulberry trees. The kids keep asking me to take them swimming, and even though the 10-day forecast calls for high nineties, I know I had better do it soon. It feels like Halloween will soon be ringing my doorbell and saying "trick-or-treat!"
And it seems it can't be a whole year since the last time Francine was here, but it was. She came to see Jonah-boy be born, to rub my back and smile at me and tell me how strong I was. Now he is tumbling along on fat, dirty feet and jabbering like a blue jay. It has indeed been too, too long.
Francine arrived last weekend with baskets full of goodies - organic farmer's market finds; white peaches and nectarines, raw pasta sauce from her own garden (can I say "wow!"???), fresh brick-oven bread and garlic butter, and astonishingly, gluten-free ravioli, though she had no idea about Tessa's new diet. She even brought dessert - a gorgeous hand-made blackberry pie, "The lady at the farmers market said she picked the berries just yesterday. Her recipe won the gold ribbon at the fair." Francine told us.
It was a gold ribbon meal all the way around.
The whole evening had an air about it, a sort of "just right" feeling, like comfy old shoes. But there were times, many of them, when things sort of fell apart, as old shoes do. The kids fought, Ethan dodged work - and my camera, the dog was under-foot and the kid's manners were often under-par. I have learned not to feel embarrassed around Francine - she truly accepts us with all of our familial flaws. And let me tell you, we were exceptionally flawed on this particular night.
As I looked at the pictures from that evening, in my mind I could see all of those moments in between them. The fuss Tessa made when I tried to take "just one more" picture, Ethan filling his mouth with water and spitting it in a grand spray all over his brother, the setting sun right in our eyes, the flies and mosquitoes, my fretting over messes being made and time marching too swiftly.
I think sometimes as I sit down late at night, like now, to write about our life and our experiences, I find myself doing a lot of editing. Maybe I am trying not to complain. Maybe I want to remember to have gratitude for my blessings. Maybe I don't want to "air my dirty laundry" too much, as my dad would say. I cut out the moments in between, the squabbles and the burned food, the barking at the kids (mine, not the dog's), the times I sit down on the floor and cry because it all seems so overwhelming. And I think, that's not really very fair. I would like my life to be like it is in the pictures, and it is... and it's all of the other things, too.
I freely confess at this very moment, that I have bellowed the phrase "I AM NOT THE MAID!!!" not once, but twice this week. I have changed 3-6 diarrhea diapers a day for four days. I have eaten half of a container of chocolate frosting all by myself. I don't know where my cell phone is, again. And there are - count 'em- SIX laundry baskets sitting in front of me on the floor right now. I worry about my kids. I hate being broke. I dread that my skin is changing, that parts of me are drooping, and that if I stop dyeing my hair I will look like the bride of Frankenstein. My garage looks like a box store threw up in it, and was then hit by a cyclone of bikes, recycling and baby clothes in trash bags.
Oh, yeah, and I have three overdue library books.
I don't suppose I have a moral here. If I were Maya Angelou I would find a poem in it all. But I am just a regular mom, trying to live the gospel, trying to keep a clean house and to raise good honest people to send out into the world. I am trying to overcome my short temper, my big mouth and my sweet tooth.
I am flawed, but I try to hide it.
I guess that's why I am the one who takes all the pictures.
It is easier (to hide) on this side of the camera.
Gardenias from Francine; the first of many gifts.
After many tries, I finally get a genuine smile from Ellie.
A feast, garnished with edible flowers by Tessa-loo.
Is it my imagination...
...or is everyone looking at me funny?
See the flower in her hair? That means Tessa was here.
That's quite a scrumptious dish. The pie looks good too.
I can see Francine's love for my children
reflecting back at her in their faces.
You can keep your durn'ol genetic relatives...
We have adopted a grandma that jumps
on the trampoline with our kids!