I wandered around my house in the quiet trying to figure out what was wrong.
Traditionally, if my children are extremely quiet one of a few things is about to happen: a) something is being destroyed, b) something is being eaten that shouldn’t be eaten or c) very expensive makeup is being used as a mosaic on my bathroom floors.
I shuffled around, doing a head count and found something odd. I repeatedly found all three of my children in the same room. All weekend long, my house would get quiet, I’d go looking for them and find all three girls huddled together and here’s a headline— not making mischief.
They played dress up, pulled out board games and played tug of war with our dog, all three girls against Moses. (He still won.) Aubrey, Emma and Sadie piled up on the couch to watch a movie, then begged me for a quilt to take outside. While wandering through the kitchen in my pajamas, I caught a glimpse of them through the screen door.
The light outside was golden, orange and yellow leaves gently swirled to the ground. I could hear their laughter and conversation spilling in the kitchen door and I watched them across the yard. Aubrey was wearing her Halloween costume and raking up a pile of leaves at the bottom of the slide. Emma and Sadie sat in their playhouse above her, bundled together in a quilt, watching. Once Aubrey finished she climbed into the playhouse and helped Sadie sit on the slide. Their peals of laughter ricochetted through the cool fall air as leaves flew up as Sadie slid into the pile.
It’s hard sometimes, in the screeching, homework doing, dinner cooking week — to remember that these moments exist. It’s easy to become so busy in doing that we don’t remember how much we have to be thankful for. I stand at the screen door until the wind begins to chill me and dusk begins to fall. I call the girls inside and during bath time and dinner, brushing hair knotted by the wind and jumping into leaves— I forget, again.
Emma runs crying into the room brandishing a bite mark, “Sadie bit me!!”
I forget the golden moment and slip into Mommy Dictator mode, “SADIE!”
Sadie sits in timeout, chubby arms folded across her chest in defiance.
“You need to apologize to your sister,” I admonish.
“She can say sowwy to huhself!” Sadie smarts off.
“No she can’t.”
“Oh, cuz she didn’t bited huhself?” she asked, feigning ignorance.
“No she didn’t.”
“I want to get a new family!” Sadie threatens.
“We’ll miss you. Should I pack your things?” I ask.
“Well… not wight now. I’m gonna get a new family later.” With her change of heart Sadie apologized and finally everyone is in bed. Until they’re not. And I forget again how lucky I am to have them. I am tired and sick and I just want to sleep.
“PLEASE stay in the bed!” I beg as one by one my husband and I put them back in their beds.
The house is quiet, everyone is asleep. I straighten the covers on Aubrey’s bed and kiss her curly head. I pad quietly to the kitchen, flipping off lights, checking the doors. I walk into Emma and Sadie’s room. Emma’s empty bed confuses me for a second until my eyes adjust to the dark and I see two small shapes under the covers of Sadie’s bed.
I smooch their warm cheeks while they sleep, curled around each other like two baby kittens. Their sisterly squabble of less than an hour before is clearly forgiven.
I wonder at what drove them to the same bed, laughing to myself that sleeping four feet away from each other seemed like such a hardship when only an hour before they were ready to trade each other in. I inhale the sweet smell of their heads and for a moment, I remember.
Robin Wiley O’Bryant is a syndicated humor columnist, author and speaker. She was born and raised in Jasper and now lives in Mississippi with her husband and three daughters. Read more online at www.robinschicks.com or email Robin at firstname.lastname@example.org.