So, I am playing single mom this weekend. Hubby worked doubles Saturday and today. My parents invited us over for Easter dinner, and since sitting at home eating grilled cheese sandwiches again didn't sound all that great, the kiddos and I went. However, the compressor on the air conditioner in the van is out and it was 92 freakin' degrees today. We drove an hour one way with the windows down. It was hot. It was loud. Needless to say, I drove fast. Both to cool us off and to get there quickly so I could peel my sticky butt off the seat.
Usually when we arrive, my dad is either waiting on the porch or by the front door so he can run out and start the spoiling of the grandchildren right away. Today, no welcome wagon. I honk the horn as I pull up and shut off the engine. I get out and start unloading Easter baskets, food, kids and all the unnecessary necessaties you haul when you go anywhere with little ones. Still, no one is running out to greet us. Weird. Good grief, I've got buttloads of stuff to carry in. Where is everyone?
When I get in the house, my dad, my uncle, my sister's boyfriend and three of my nephews are all sitting at the table eating. "Hi!" they all say. "We're eating in shifts," Dad says with a grin. Yeah. Men first. "Where's Mom?" I ask. Then her, my sister and my aunt come in from the back of the house. "Hey, what's going on?" "Oh, I just tried to cut my thumb off," Mom replies, with a little laugh. "Are you all right?" I ask. I turn to my sister, who is an RN, "Is she all right?" I don't know why, but I have always felt so protective of my mother. If she is in any kind of pain, I immediately worry. Mom blows it off and she and my sister head outside to help me unload the van.
Once the men are finished, us girls sit down to eat. Mom has worked hard. Rotisserie Chicken, Ham, Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli Rice Casserole, Hot Rolls...it looks wonderful and I am starved. But of course, life with three kids means you get in your aerobic workout during meals. Unfortunately that doesn't mean you are skinny. I am up and down the entire time. Baby is cranky and I am beginning to feel the same way. My head hurts from the heat and noise of the drive over and I'm a little irked that nobody's offering to help me with the kids. I know. That sounds bad. But one of the things I like about hanging out with my family is that they usually jump in and take care of a kid or two, which is a relief now and then. Today is different for some reason. It just doesn't feel right.
We hide eggs for the kids and give them their Easter baskets. They gorge on candy and sweets. I try to visit but I am so tired and keeping up with my children is draining me. Baby is into everything and I again feel irked that Mom didn't at least babyproof a little before we came. I mean, do we have to leave the blood pressure monitoring equipment out? The entire day seems to just continue to suck the life from me. Finally, around 5:30, Baby is a complete mess and I don't have the energy to deal. I decide it is time to pack it up and make the long, hot journey home.
Baby and Sister both konk out. I put in books on tape for brother, who can barely hear them over the roar of the wind racing through van as I drive 80 down the turnpike. All I can think about is how much I want to be home. And I contemplate this feeling.
My sister is almost finished building her beautiful, brand new house. It is gorgeous. I am thrilled for her...really. She deserves it. My house is nowhere near that nice. It's old. It needs a lot of work. It's tiny and cramped. The kitchen gets really hot when you cook. And right now, it is a complete mess. But today, when I walked through the door, I felt peace. I love my little home. I love the way my bedroom looks when the morning sun comes through the windows. I love having the windows open and letting the breeze dance down the hall. I love the grass green walls of Brother's room. I love that I can look at the marks on the doorway to the kitchen and see how my children have grown. I love the old wooden floors that bear the marks of our life and lives before us. I love that my children are free to roam and explore, run and jump, laugh and shout within these walls. And I love the life we have built here. I can breathe and be me here. I know we won't be here forever. And that's just fine with me. When the time comes to let this house go, I will be a little sad. But for now, this is my little corner of the world. This is home...where my heart is.