this morning i watched my fourth born come down for his breakfast. connor, sleep-eyed and slow moving. he was sleeping in late this summer - like a teenager. he set out his morning things: cheerio box. blue bowl. white milk. i watched him search for a clean spoon. in our house, we have a way of always being low on the clean. it was while connor rummaged through the overloaded dishwasher that i noticed: this sun-browned-boy, this 8-year-old-teen, was still in his bathing suit. the one he wore yesterday to the pool. the one he came home in, ate dinner in, rode bike in, watched movie in, and, obviously, had slept in. blue and orange and white stripes from waist to knee. i sat, coffee cup in hand, saying nothing. nothing but my, "good morning." and with eyes following swim-suited-son, moving easily around my late morning kitchen, i thought to myself, "it's okay. he's fine. i can live with this." and i smiled all the way through. and i watched him, deep and easy, in my mother love.
lately, i have noticed this happening a little more often: this finding-things-i-can-live-with feeling. finding things which are just fine. fine the way they are. fine and not in need of my meddling, mother-hands. fine and not in need of my eternal, womanly fixing. i have always been a fixer. a fixer of things. a straightener of lines. a smoother of edges. a brusher of tangles. a patcher of life. there was a time when i would have made sure this growing boy of mine had on clean and (even possibly) matching pajamas. he would have been tucked neatly into weekly-washed sheets after an evening bath, inside of a reasonable bedtime. that is the way i have loved my children well. arrange pillows and covers and hair and sock drawer and play dates and all things. and everything. but everything has changed just a bit. not tremendously. not philosophically. not spiritually. i still love them well in my mothering, i only hover around the details differently.
this has spilt over into other rooms of our life. last night we left dinner dishes in sink. something which has almost always felt impossible. in the past, i would stand until midnight (it sure seemed) and fill sink with hot water and suds and every manner of stainless steel and ceramic. i had this desire to have all of it gone before sunrise. when i come to the kitchen in bare feet and in morning dark i want to be greeted by nothing which reeks of last night's dinner hour. i want my coffee and my calm. i want an emptied sink and wiped-down granite. i will clean it late into evening to preserve this chance for morning peace. but last night we left dinner dishes in sink. we had a few extra children eating at our table and a tremendously large spaghetti meal and you can only imagine the mess stacked high. but we left it all.
everyone eating did bring their plate to the sink. and they all scraped and rinsed and stacked as they have been expected to do for forever. the counters and table were quickly addressed with soapy rag. chairs pushed in. milk put away. noodle pot set to soak. but the dishwasher was still running from the afternoon cycle. (yes, it runs twice a day, at least, during summer). and so i left my kitchen. i abandoned my post of pots and pans and plates and turned my back on the spaghetti mess. i left the kitchen and i left the house.
after an evening run-walk, i returned home to find my pile of kids in the midst of a big plan. this plan had nothing to do with the state of my kitchen or the piled high dinner dishes. imagine that. instead, they had hearts set on a movie marathon and campout in my room. it sounded good to me and after shower taken and popcorn popped and pillows brought, we settled in. and i was just fine with it. i was fine with the bodies sprawling every which way across floor and bed. i was fine with the popcorn sprinkled generously over linen-colored duvet. i was fine with the little one knocking around at my feet and the older one's elbow in my side. i was fine with the munching and slurping of too many children. i was fine with the messy abundance in kitchen sink one floor below. and, apparently, i was just fine with the 8 year old boy falling asleep in his bathing trunks.
i could live with it. all of it.
and i wouldn't change a thing...this very fine thing.