Don’t forget about the dog poop- I warned you  
If things got bad
And they got bad
There would be repercussions.
Scoop it, bag it, sneak it into the Starbucks dumpster.

And the dog.
Walk the dog- 
not around the block-
The pavement burns her paws,
Take her to the park.
It’s not soccer season yet,
Bring a bag in case someone sees.
Use it
Even if 
nobody’s watching.

Check the website for your summer work, 
Do it.

Email your coach,
Tell him what he wants to hear
and do that too.

Brush your teeth, 
Floss,
Don’t only eat food flavored 
Buffalo
Or from a bag
Or orange.

Respond to all the girls that sent you
Snapchats.

Be kind to everyone that asks to 
Follow you.
(I haven’t asked but I know
Better.)

I remind you 
to empty dishes, 
walk the dog,
Sweep a floor.

I don’t ask you
To follow or accept or friend me.

I keep our conversations about
The dishes in the sink.

I update you 
About what 
The world expects.

I text instead of call.

You talk to friends on FaceTime.
You laugh 
And ignore everybody else.

I read books, 
Solicit prayers from strangers,
And send you bullet points 
so what I need from you
Is clear 
And listed by
By priority.

-Call me.
-Do your homework.
-Clean the yard.

I check my phone
For your response
All night.

(Sent from my iPhone

which is well aware

The iPhone

to which the message

has been sent

Is currently quite busy.)

 

Tonight, sitting in Ayeesha’s kitchen for the first time, it occurred to me. I’d made a new friend. She and her husband had books, good books, familiar books. They had board games and a cat. Her cat is not allowed on the kitchen counter, and her cat doesn’t go on the kitchen counter. They have big conversations about the world and not about car pools or the finale of How I Met Your Mother. Though she did make me want to watch The Walking Dead.

She got me cookies, made me coffee, and gave me the sweet spot on the sofa. It was a magical moment, when I glanced at her face and realized, I hope I see more of that face. And it wasn’t because of the cookies, though I am a sucker for cookies.

As I get older, the moments are fewer and farther between when I look at a face that isn’t related to me, and want to see it on a regular basis. There is so much stuff to do. Recitals, basketball games, work, more work, working out so I don’t look like an idiot at work. (I work at a gym.) I’m glad I met her, and I’m glad I was smart enough to get to know her. Oh, gosh, I hope she likes me too. When she comes to my house, I will bake her a pie and try to talk about something political, or at least current, or at least not about my kids.

When I got home, probably inspired by Ayeesha’s kitchen, I went on a bit of a bender. A cleaning bender. Did you know dirt gets under the knobs on the stove? When I lifted up the stove top, there were drips of indeterminate animal fat, and candle wax, (I think,) and matches, and hair elastics. I swept under the stove and found 4 milk caps, one broken glass that someone didn’t feel like picking up, 97 broken crayons, primarily in pastel shades, and an earring. It’s like mining, deep cleaning my house. There are layers and layers of stuff, and they all tell a story. We really like milk, eat too much meat, sometimes are a little lazy, do most our sketches in primary shades and are constantly looking for hair elastics.

We are a messy family, and I am a work in progress. Tomorrow I will tackle the dining room and next week, I will invite my new friend and her man over for dinner. After I teach my cats not to spend most of their time napping on the kitchen counter.

Maybe I will wait until it’s a little warmer and they spend most of their time outside.

The other night, Colin was sprawled on my bed, watching basketball. He looked up at me. He smiled. He spoke- “mom, come here. I want to watch basketball with you.”
I swooned.

These are interesting times in our house. With Colin, I am often the source of great amusement, for what I wear, what I know and don’t know, (who is Kendrick Lamar?) and how I text.

Then he wants me to listen to a song he loves, or offers to lend me his basketball sneakers to go to zumba class.*

My daughter is 10. She went to see a teacher got married and needed to ask the next door neighbor for eyeshadow, my selection wasn’t flattering to her skin tone. And while I was making dinner tonight, she marched up to me in the kitchen, in front of the stove, thru her arms around me and declared it was time to snuggle.

I packed up all of Colin’s boy clothes last week. A thousand hats, he never wore one. Fifteen different teeshirts from basketball camp and summer camp and football practice. Little boy pajamas with dinosaurs and fire trucks and skulls.

In the midst of all these changes I’ve been on a bit of a cleaning bender. The hard thing is, Colin is thirteen. Katy is nine. They are used to my bi monthly half hearted attempts to get the house in order. They listened to the speech. They made their beds. They put the clean towels into the linen closet instead of on the floor in front of the linen closet. This all lasted about three days, every couple of months. Before.

When Back To School struck this year, I decided we were going to get the house in order. And that meant all of us. I regard clean clothes perched on the stairs the way I used see Sophie’s poop when she’d been left home too long. Socks in the hallway send me into a frenzy. And stuffing all of the offending articles into the closet and then closing the door doesn’t work anymore either. In the old days, I wouldn’t open the door. Now I do.

And of course, along with Back To School, the New Leaf Cleaning Policies, there are all of the Back to School Activities- swim team, football, youth group, flute lessons. And there is my job. And my other job. And two classes at Quincy college. And dinner, and friends, and the gym.

I have to go to the gym. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been struggling with asthma. Mostly at night. My lungs wheeze, it sounds like I have a choir of Who’s from Whoville singing in my chest. I can’t catch my breath. Yoga seems to help. And an extended time spent in the sauna after yoga helps even more.

It’s not surprising, I guess. My family has started careening forward towards the next part, the part where I have to learn to let them go. I can clean, watch basketball, burn dinner while I cuddle on the couch, zumba till the teacher throws me out, and it’s not going to slow down. And when I do slow down, when I lay me down to sleep, I lose my breath.

It returns. And I go back to sleep, and wake up to the most charismatic of canines, Sophie. Sophie groans when I first reach down to say good morning. And then she wags, not just her tail, her whole body. And she shivers, and sighs, and wedges closer to my body. I know she really, really needs to get outside. Even so she will stay in bed in bliss right next to me until I have to pry myself away and return to vertical.

That’s how things are right now in our house.

*Don’t ever wear basketball sneakers to zumba. Ever. They are incredibly hard to dance in, and more important, they look really, really stupid.