These Are The Days: Water, Leaves, Dusk

We threw a dinner party. With a couple friends from my mom group. AND our babies. There were a number of brief, out-of-body moments I had where I looked around and thought: How did I get here?

It never really crossed my mind during the planning that this would be anything but an idyllic and civilized experience. You’d think I was a complete newb (I am). Initially, the house was clean. Most of the food cooked already. Bowls, spoons, and glasses out. Gin, tonic, and limes for my favorite summer drink. I smelled relatively decent. And the bebes were mostly relaxed and occupied with books. There was the occasional trying to do some last minute straightening up and re-arranging with a child hanging from my much-too-loose skirt (note to self: Avoid wearing anything that might be easily pulled down in public. Lesson learned.) and whiny-ness. But we’d (read: I HAD) been hankering for company since we’d been cooped up since 11am because of the 104 degree weather.

The lovely friends showed up with their equally darling children and we settled in to activities for the babies. As in getting toys out for them so we could get drinks for ourselves. As in getting them interacting so they could find each other entertaining and the pressure would be off us. They did well – the boys generally warmed up quickly and were exploring every nook and cranny, while the twins insisted on taking time to survey everything from our arms and laps. But they soon got down to brass tax after they realized other kids were playing with their toys and played, too.

And then we got the food together. We sat down to “eat.” I put that in quotation marks because while there was eating going on it was a minor part of the dinner. Eating really entailed pulling table-dancing babies off the low Korean table, making sure bowls weren’t totally overturned onto the floor, and wrangling them away from each other and towards the food. At one point, there were little piles of food everywhere, like little land mines so one had to step gingerly, and then, D threw up all over the table. BIOHAZARD! Apparently he doesn’t chew very much. I eventually was walking around in what felt like sandals made of edamame.

Seriously. Who are we? How did we get here? Shouldn’t there be tv crews around us?

It was another moment of surrender, which seems to be the running thread in my entire life – from switching my undergrad major to going to seminary to marrying Andy to doing ministry to having bebes. I know it sounds a little loaded – that term, it’s not easy, some negative political connotations, and a bit militaristic – but I can’t think of another word to describe it. It’s not a passive or oppressive surrender. It’s a living-into, stepping-into (literally, my feet covered in bits of rice and veggies), a this-is-the-here-and-now-so-soak-it-up.

“Now is the season to know that everything you do is sacred.”
― Hafiz

So we turned up some old hip-hop and watched the babies dance and play basketball. Amidst Legos, strawberry pieces, and chopsticks it was like a rock star trashed the room sans the drugs although there were a few empty beer bottles. And I picked up Angelpie and spun her around for our usual dance routine. Her laughter, her face – these are the moments. It was easy surrender.

We eventually went outside and watched Ellis run her usual frantically happy circles, and the babies wandered around ecstatic to be freed from captivity. Our wonderful neighbors were out too and we meandered over so the babies could play as J watered the garden. S picked up D-Train after he got soaked and I melted watching him nuzzle into her shoulder. Leaves were suddenly Angelpie’s obsession and she sat for over 45 minutes holding them in the waters spray while J graciously held the hose for her. Baby L played with Ellis and just showed her so much love and attention I felt like he was teaching me how to do it. It was still light out – that dreamy dusky light that comes with hot summer days. No fireflies but that would have only made it slightly more perfect.

Natalie Merchant started to sing in my head:

these are days you’ll remember

never before and never since, I promise
will the whole world be warm as this
and as you feel it, you’ll know it’s true
that you are blessed and lucky
it’s true, that you are touched by something
that will grow and bloom in you

these are days you’ll remember

when May is rushing over you with desire
to be part of the miracles you see in every hour
you’ll know it’s true, that you are blessed and lucky
it’s true, that you are touched by something
that will grow and bloom in you

these are the days
that you might fill with laughter
until you break

these days you might feel a shaft of light
make its way across your face
and when you do
you’ll know how it was meant to be
see the signs and know their meaning

you’ll know how it was meant to be
hear the signs and
know they’re speaking to you
to you

Did anyone know parenthood would make you so damn cheesy? I can’t believe how much I simply swoon because of them. No one told me that I wouldn’t be done loving them after their birth. I kind of thought I’d love them and that’s it but everyday I love them more. How is that possible??? I continue to be surprised by the realization that actually love is quantifiable because it’s undeniably increasing with each of these moments. And with that love a whole host of other gifts like gratitude, wonder, and of all things, contentment. Filling up my jar like so many fireflies lighting up the night.

L’s mom emailed me afterwards – leave it to a Victorianist PhD to truly capture this night: Sometimes I feel like the whole reason to have kids is so that you can chase them around outside, half-naked and covered in dog slobber (the kids, that is), in the slanting summer sunlight on a sweltering June evening. Cool hoses and cold beers help too. I seriously can’t think of a better way to spend a summer night.