Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Night Owls

There was a time when I was young and it was (mostly) me, my brother Eric, and my mom. We lived a small house next to a very old woman who grew rhubarb and had a dog named Rocky. There was a large grate in the middle of our hallway where the heat pushed out loudly in the winter. Most cold days Mom would spread a blanket out on it and she'd read. I would grab a coloring book and drift off in my own thoughts while Eric probably scaled a couch or built a bike ramp on our roof.

Those days were good. They were not so good for other reasons but in my memory bank of cozy, that's what I remember. I remember hanging out on that warm blanket with my mom, trying not to let bare skin touch the scalding metal underneath us. It was like we were stranded on this hot breathing island together with nothing to do but read and be together in silence. It was great.

At night we three had a meeting place on the second floor stairwell, near the slanted ceiling. We called ourselves the Night Owls and would "hoo-hoo" when we had reason to meet. Sometimes the gatherings were important. Often they were called to discuss where exactly we'd be eating Mac & Cheese that night. Should we eat in the living room while watching M.A.S.H. or maybe picnic upstairs in one of our bedrooms? While we hashed out the pros and cons of our dilemma (real or imagined) Eric would be a constant blur of movement stretching his lanky legs up two stairs while balancing both hands on the opposite wall just to see if he could. I would be still, silent, and very serious. Mom has often told me I didn't grow a sense of humor until college. I had one before then. Just didn't know how to use it.

Now that I've been with my kids all alone for almost two months, I have my own nest of Night Owls. Grayson, Abby, and I meet together every night - not in the stairwell - but on our living room rug. The kids start with a solid sprint around the house until they tire a little and join me on the floor. I am on my back either petting Sadie or just relishing not standing on my feet. The kids don't allow me to show affection to anyone but them so my Sadie time is limited.

Usually Grayson tromps over me with a, "Mommy, you are under attack. Peeekow! Peekow!" as he screeches off imaginary rounds of sticky web darts. Then the little one shows up. "Mommy do bumpa-da-bum (game my mom played with us where you fling the kid around on your my legs while laying on your back.) wish Abby. Mommy do eet."

So here I am, smack in the middle of being their mom and I'm caught off guard by these parallel threads from my past. Life is funny that way the older I get. Just when you least expect it, time shows its cards to you bit by bit to help make sense of things that were once so blurry. The bad fades back far into the distance while the strong, substantial good threads remain and give me something cozy to think about well after my Night Owls have drifted off to sleep.

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