It’s a rare occasion that I’m alone in the house. My husband and oldest son fell asleep in the guest room, while I put the youngest down in his crib. I have a quiet, stuffy from the summer heat house all to my self. After doing the necessary clean up of outdoor movie night equipment I pause and look around the country kitchen. The fairy lights hung under the patio cast a happy, whimsical light on my favorite space in the house and I notice the collection of smudged, oily handprints all over the farm door window that leads to the backyard. I had just been debating sitting down with the rather large pile of clean laundry that’s accumulated over the last few days, maybe watch a “mom show” and enjoy the time alone. And those little handprints remind me of the balance that I continually try to find between being a housewife, keeping up with chores and budgets and pragmatic tasks and that of mom to little boys, a fleeting reality. I try to give my kids some of my undivided attention every day, individually, and inevitably some days I fail. There’s bread to be baked and weeds to be pulled, the toilets desperately need scrubbing and work clothes washed with a watchful eye lest I be pulling out the iron.
But those little hands are growing every day and I know from all the advice of older, wiser strangers that I should be cherishing every moment of it- that it goes by so quickly. And there are days when the housework goes undone, when I get down on the floor and play and wrestle and read and draw, exactly the way the boys want me to, without my own agenda of busy getting in the way. The other night as he was going to bed and I was doing “all the things” that include singing “you are my sunshine”, petting his back, head, cheek and back again my oldest said he had one, no four things to tell me. “I love you, Mommy. When I grow up I’m going to marry you and you can have all the surprises. And then you’ll have me all to yourself.” I gave him an extra tight cuddle as we said our goodnights. These days are fleeting. Soon, there will be no such requests or dreams. I only have a little while before I have to let go of the all to myself boys and watch them become their own, independent people. Those little handprints are growing every day and if I don’t slow down and let go of the busy, they may just pass me by.