Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Lot of Living

Most days you kind of rock through on cruise control, you know? You've pretty much expanded your capacities to the point where you can handle your stuff without feeling taxed or burdened. In our marriage, we have an oft-repeated maxim for this: You can do whatever you have to do.

A couple nights ago, though, I was surprised to find myself feeling kind of drained. It wasn't like a marathon day, really, but it just took a lot of living. That's what I told Matt, it just took a lot of living. Really only three things happened. I took the kids to the dentist, where Laura got braces on her top front teeth. Hank also got his teeth cleaned, and he gagged every time the dentist touched him. He was a little ball of anxiety, and he's never been like that before. The dentist kept calling him "Frank." He got through it, though, and Laura loved her braces. That's right, loved them. These kids today, they are different. Her glasses and braces make her the double threat. I told her she looks like she needs to be in charge of something.

When we got home, Mom and Dad and Amy and her whole crew (Jason, Ava, Nate, and Grace, I'm sorry you guys keep getting called "her whole crew") had arrived at my house from the mountains for what was to be their last night before starting their journey back to Oz. We really barely greeted them before we had to run over to the PTA meeting. Laura was one of the students of the month, so she had to have her moment of grip-and-grin with the principal.

Laura at the PTA Meeting

I want to mention that all of those kids in that picture are third graders, just like Laura. Yet not only is she half a head taller than all of them, she looks two years older, I think. Goodness me. The fact that everyone gets a turn, eventually, to be Student of the Month did not reduce Laura's excitement. Like the father says in A Christmas Story, it's a major award!

So then we went back home and there were 89 people in my house, it seemed, only it was really only our family plus the Hamiltons, who'd come to hang out and meet the Australian baby, and everyone was having a lot of high-intensity relating and fellowshipping with everyone else, which was all dialed up a degree by the knowledge that it was our last waltz for a long while. Some people were playing board games while other people engaged in competitive karaoke. Others milled about. And I did not drink a cosmo because of all the calories, but I'm not sure the three glasses of wine I had instead were really a good substitute. A great time was had by all, and yet somehow all the being wore me out. And at the end of the night, I said to Matt, "It just takes so much showing up and caring, this life." Just a lot of living.

So they left Wednesday morning, early, and I've been a little forlorn, not knowing exactly when we'll see them again.


Grace and Dad

Amy Leaving

As they were heading to the airport, Amy realized that every single pair of shoes she had were packed in suitcases and loaded into the car. Apparently we have a thing with shoelessness and travel in this family. Or traveling while shoeless. We're free-spirited like that. After the car drove away, and I was back inside our suddenly huge-feeling house, I felt pretty down in the mouth, and I wanted to cry, but it didn't seem like quite the right response when we'd all had such wonderful weeks together.

After they were gone I found out what had happened in Haiti. I've been kind of glued to the news, and Hank caught a glimpse of CNN, so I told him that there had been an earthquake (he didn't know that word) and that many people had no houses and nowhere to go and needed lots of help. He asked a few questions about who was helping them and what they were going to do, and honestly I did not have great answers. He must have been processing it, because tonight at bedtime he said, "Tell me a story about the earthquake, but don't make it a story about this family." Indeed. I mean, little kids may not have our language skills, but sometimes I'm amazed at the way they can talk about their emotions and get their point across.

I hope you and yours are well, wherever you are. xoxox-B


Erika said...

It sounds like you are having a little postpartum depression. Except instead of having a baby, you had an awesome time with your family.

And that Hank is a narrative genius--I mean, isn't that the definition of realism.

The Dental Maven said...

My throat squeezed when I read Hanks request for a bedtime story. My goodness.

Kelly said...

xxxxx HUGS xxxxx

delaine said...

It was so hard to leave them at the airport. I looked at Gracie, particularly, and thought "You'll be walking when we see you again." I think I cried till we reached Newnan. I guess sometimes we just expect the good times to keep rolling. But of course they do have to end at last. Life is just so incredibly rich ! But not for everyone, unfortunately. God bless those poor people in Haiti. Their agony continues.

Keely said...

Oh, Hank, he breaks my heart a little. What a sweetie.

That IS a lot of living. Even when it's family, I feel tired out by that sort of living, too. And the feeling sad, which often makes me want to take a nap.

Kate said...

my 10 year old is DYING for braces. And glasses! crazy.

Casey said...

I never have a breeze through day anymore, they all take everything I have just to get through them.

I'm glad you had so much fun with your shoeless family but sorry they had to go!

Congrats to Laura, that IS quite an achievement! And poor Hank, his little mind is always thinking, isn't it? Graham's the same way and I'm amazed by what he understands sometimes.

Michele said...

Congrats to Laura. She does look so much more grown up then the rest.

Wine is a fruit so it doesn't count as highly as say a martini. Cosmo's have cranberry juice which is an antioxidant. According to my method your still gold.

Hank, Bless him. What a thinker he is.

Bren said...

Shredding for the soul.

Jane said...

Ah, poor sweet Hank! He's got a big heart.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, my heart is breaking for Haiti. I hate to sound cliche, but it's the kids that get me. The little 8 year old who lost all ELEVEN other people in her family. WHAT WILL SHE DO? It's devastating.

After such a fantastic time with family, maybe now you can regain a little energy for living. I know exactly what you mean, though-- sometimes it's so exhausting just smiling.

The Messy Mom said...

Aw, that Hank, he gets me every time. I am glad you can let out your emotions on the blog and you can even cry on here if you want to.

Becky said...

Thanks guys. And Hank is a little sweetie, though I say it myself.

I think that I am in a certified, though delayed, post-holiday slump. Possibly taking my FREAKIN' CHRISTMAS TREE down would help. You think?

Haiti, it is too much to take in. And I fear that the news will grow worse before it gets better.

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Except for my throat-lump, I loved this post, especially the last part about Hank and his "not us" earthquake family story.

Bex said...

some days - not very many days, but rarely - its good to do no living: stay in pj's, heat up instant food for the kids, read blogs, take baths, take naps and watch tv. its like a sick day!

Anonymous said...

Love your daughter's feet placement, like she has been schooled in red carpet photo poses. Hope the blues are diminishing

Rebekah said...

All of those activities take major amounts of living. I'd say you packed a week into a day at least. dentist, PTA awards, and major family visiting & having to say goodbye are all hard, especially the last one. When we lived in Germany, it was hard to say goodbye and leave the extended family on this side of the ocean. Being separated by oceans is stressful after you're married and have kids. Before that, it's cool.

Veronica said...

Aw. Congrats to Laura, and what a sweetie Hank is, and glad you had such a lovely visit with your family.

gretchen said...

Yeah...I've been kind of hiding this whole Haiti thing from Jude. Because we DO have earthquakes here (though he's never experienced one), and I don't want to freak him out. Mmmm.

I love that Laura digs her braces and glasses. She's right, they're very distinctive and special. I totally get it. I desperately wanted both of them when I was a kid, and didn't get either of them. Of course, now that I'm an old lady, I get the glasses. Drag.

Sara said...

That's what it is! So much living.
I've been saying I'm just so overstimulated by all the interactions lately, tho they're many times quite pleasant. Or downright fun.
I was puttering out of gas myself today.