On quiet mornings, I begin slowly. Softly, I ease out of bed like a shadow with a prayer my toddler doesn’t realize my presence has shifted away from his side. In the kitchen, my husband and I share a quiet conversation over the bubble of the kettle, often a list of to-dos and dones never discussed between dinner, clean up, bedtime stories and more clean up.
I miss our long conversations after dark. The quiet of our college apartment pierced by delightful daydreams and deep thoughts, childhood memories and reflections on the day’s events. Those daydreams turned into to-do lists. Not quite so delightful, but that’s the only way I’ve found to anchor them to my grasp. Otherwise, like lost balloons, daydreams roll towards the clouds until they’re out of sight, leaving you to wonder ruefully if someone else will find them, hold them close and let them live again.
The kettle clicks off and he pours the steaming water over his coffee grounds and my tea leaves.
“Did you get lunch?” Check. “Breakfast?”
“I filled the thermos with milk and I’ll have cereal at the office.”
“I didn’t wash that thermos yet. Did you?”
Couple more kisses since the kids aren’t around to say “ewww.”
A gentle dappling rain begins as he drives away. I sit in the doorway to breathe it in and recalibrate. Kitties ripple past me and the to-do list resurfaces. “Buy a new collar of the kitty who’s always loosing hers. Affix the bell on another’s collar.” Remi pauses to snuggle into me, and I snuggle back. I at look myself petting her thick, grey fluff and realize I’m enjoying this moment. How refreshing to see her and think “soft, sweet” instead of “Feed–check. Comb—check. Trim—check.”
I hear a bedroom door creak open. Another round of to-dos starts when the house is awake. Will I see my children today or four rambunctious checklists? People are to be loved, nurtured, enjoyed. Checklists are to be mastered. They are not the same thing.
Originally published the 12th of May, 2019.