Thursday, February 24, 2011

Being Here Tonight

This afternoon, I rode the bus back from my teaching job.  The driver – it’s always the same woman – pulled up to my stop, and I pushed open the back doors.  The air was especially brisk as it hit my face.  I had a handful of errands to run by bike with my children today before dinner, so my steps were quick.  The wind picked up behind me, pushing me along.

When I walked in,the house felt a little cozier than usual.  My children, in turtlenecks and wool socks, were gathered around their aunt at the kitchen table.  There were still a few peanut butter cookies left.  As my boys poured forth all the news of their day, I washed my hands.  I let my frozen fingertips linger under the warm water, considering my to do list.  I looked outside, and saw a veil of heavy raindrops spill down from the sky.  A few of them became slush as they hit the window: frozen rain.

On the sofa, the children had installed a down comforter and a stack of picture books.  I imagined a cup of tea there, too.  Hot tea.  I glanced again at the freezing rain on the other side of the window, then to the picture books.  I mentally moved the handful of errands in my appointment calendar for Wednesday afternoon into the Thursday column. 

If you are a parent, then you already know what it is to have a little more on your plate than can be comfortably tucked into.  I hope that you also know the pleasure of putting the to-do list aside from time to time.  In my opinion, one of the unexpected benefits of getting around by bike is that, sometimes, I decide not to do it.

I could have made it work to get out on that errand somehow.  If the errand was really urgent, I could have left my children with the neighbor for a few minutes while I ran around on my bike.  I could have chosen to do the highest priority errand by bus.  I could have made it work to get everyone outside and on the bike had I really needed to.

But none of those options felt quite right.  So I looked at my list, realized that nothing really had to be done right away, and reorganized my calendar a bit.  I fished a cookie out of the jar.  I set the teakettle to boil, and asked my children which books we ought to read first.

As we pulled the comforter around us, the first few flakes of snow found their way out of the clouds.  Perfect. 

I wrote this post on Wednesday evening, but didn't have a chance to proofread and post it until after midnight.  I decided to preserve some language that reflected the original moment at which I wrote this: tonight, this afternoon, etc.


  1. Nice Emily. I'm glad you can make these choices and recognize the truly important things in life. Your family is blessed to have you.

  2. We're very lucky to have you, too, Mona.