Yesterday I was on my way home from errands, and as I turned onto a connecting street leading to my own road, I saw an older lady checking her mailbox. I call her grandma, because I’ve seen her and her husband entertaining a young grandson on their property.
She stood at the end of her driveway, holding the mail she’d just extracted from her mailbox. As my car neared, slowly covering the half mile from my right turn at the stop sign, to her driveway, I was able to take in her white sweatshirt screen-printed with a grandma-style tabby cat on the front, her soft white hair, and her wire rimmed glasses.
She lingered there, seemingly without a care in the world, as she flipped through 6 or 7 envelopes in her hand, carefully examining each one with interest, oblivious to my passing observations of her.
I couldn’t help but marvel for a second - imagining what it must be like to have that kind of time on one’s hands.
Whenever I (manage to remember to) get the mail, it always involves racing quick-step from the car to the mailbox, grabbing whatever is inside the box, and trying not to drop it onto the driveway as I shove it under my arm alongside kids’ jackets, stuffed animals, and grocery bags. I holler for my children to hurry toward the door as I fumble for my keys, and then trip over the small people standing in between me and the lock. It’s usually 10 minutes past naptime, and one kid has to pee urgently. Another is hoping to sneak a ride on their scooter while I’m busy with the mail. Yet another is usually sobbing because
A. It’s 10 minutes past nap time or
B. I just said “no scooter right now”
I hustle them inside, quickly closing the door behind us to keep out cold, or hot, or rain, or snow, or insects, or some combination of those. Usually the littlest lingers in the open doorway, continuing her loud protest while the rest of us beg her to enter so we can shut the door and keep out the elements. Finally when Mommy’s voice changes from light and easy to firm and grouchy, she then runs in angrily, storming across the kitchen floor, and I have to call after her to come back and remove her dirty shoes, which does little to improve her attitude.
I drop everything taking up space in my arms and hands, and go about assisting with potty visits, hand washing, stuffed animal/baby doll reconnaissance, drinks, or lunch, before herding everyone up the stairs while simultaneously arguing with the littlest about the fact that it IS nap time, and everyone is going, and she needs it most of all, so please stop fighting with me, this is WHY you need a nap! I offer her a book, and then a toy, and then her bear, and then another book to keep her company, all of which she declines with a curt (but adorable) no! I shoo away the other two children two or three times, because they seem to think 'calm down the baby time' is the BEST time to walk into her dark bedroom and begin speaking loudly to me, and to her. And then at last she settles, puts her thumb in her mouth, and I stroke her forehead while she gazes up at me. I tell her I love her, and she says “Goo night Mommy!” then, “I wove you Mommy!”
And then I quickly tiptoe out before she changes her mind about being cooperative, turning my attention to the two big ones, ensuring they have beloved inanimate companions, something to entertain them during quiet time, and also something educational to enrich their minds. I remind them not to make a mess in their rooms, and to stay inside their rooms to give each other much needed space. They nod and we all say ‘OK’, even though all three of us know they’ll both break that rule in the first 15 minutes, and I’ll have to call up the stairs to remind them about giving each other downtime so they can refresh, have their own space, and experience creative thoughts in their own head for a while.
I head downstairs with grandiose dreams of having 2 hours of creative thoughts in MY own head, but once I open the computer, I’m reminded of all the emails, text messages, and news headlines I have to catch up on. Before I know it, nap time is over and I’m heading up to get them, passing by the kitchen counter and suddenly remembering the pile of mail I have yet to investigate.