I bend down, using discarded shorts, hoodies, socks, to mop up around the edges of the bathtub. I look at the water in the bath, small drops of baby oil gathering in islands on the surface. I’ve been meaning to bathe the dogs, now that we’re surrendered that our big oaf, Pepita, chicken killer or not, is our big oaf…and life on a lead during the day, and in front of the fire at night, well, it ain’t that bad of life, all things considered.
Joaquin has been irritable for days. His irritability spreads through the rest of the family. He coughs and complains and demands that I hold him, my hand resting on his head or his cheek, and that I don’t breathe, move, have a will of my own. I am his home base, his recharge, his heartbeat. I’m peaceful, full of surrender, and then…I’m not.
I’m pacing. Irritable. I extract myself and duck through the “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” traps that fly through the air, invisible word-webs that I can only stay just ahead of, I never truly escape. They trail at my heels, gather along the edges of my shadow, this constant pull back to my children and their needs and the wellspring of something – I don’t know what – but I know it is mine, this resource that seems to elude me in these moments.
I throw the soggy clothes in the wash house sink. These are the moments of life that add up to romance and nothing more; reusing clothing, throwing kitchen scraps into a plastic container for the chickens, tag-team parenting to tumble into quiet moments of intimacy.
I realize that this resourcefulness between Dan and I, it is the underside of all our longings.
Our feet reach out to find one another beneath blankets, grumpy children pushing and tossing between us, but it is in that contact of toes to toes, of an arm stretching across the divide, a hand resting on the curve of a hip, that we strengthen our convenant.
It is in the small acts that we continue to grow together.
We buy fence wood to build garden boxes and turn a square of unused yard into a future bounty. We dream of a stove that doesn’t burn our food. We write down our ‘Things To Do’ on a white board decorated with photos of sunsets, waves, and our children.
We text one another “I’m sorry” as one of us rests in the car because Joaquin has fallen asleep and it is the first time in hours he isn’t complaining. The other is watching the others play.
We are weary. We love one another and fight for one another.
As I write this, the door of the bedroom flings open. Zaviera comes through a rectangle of light. Her eyes are big and sad. She tells me that Sol tripped her and it hurt her feelings. She asks me what I am writing.
I tell her, “I’m writing stories for you and your brothers, for our family.”
“So we can have them?”
“Yes,” I say. “I am going to put them into a book so that our family will have a story of our days.”
She climbs up on the bed next to me and rests her head on my shoulder and begins to sound out the words on the screen.
These simple moments, they are the romance, the adventure, the buried treasure of our days.