Yesterday was golden, really. Sarah woke happy and "chatted" with me merrily before we got out of bed. My morning computer check-in time slipped away as I marveled at my baby and told time to stand still.
As more children tumbled out from under covers and down the stairs, it dawned on me that I'd made no grocery trip for Mardi Gras. I was sick at the end of last week and all weekend and the whole thing passed in an inefficient blur. We had a plan because we pretty much always do the same thing, but I had no ingredients.
Mike texted from the airport. His flight was delayed. The morning reunion was moved to noon. At least I would have my act together by then.
I put together a grocery list and pulled on my boots. Karoline wanted to go along. Sigh. Karoline's company would make this trip a good deal lengthier. She was persistent. Her coat. Her boots. Her doll. Her bear. In the car. Off we go.
Karoline tenderly put her doll in the little cart our grocery store provides for wee mommies. She asked me to please strap the bear into my cart. I did. We found the ingredients for king cake, and jambalaya, lots of sparkle sugar in green and yellow and purple. Half a dozen people smiled at us as we went about our business. Sweet girl, spreading sunshine all over the place. Time moved slowly.
We chose hot fudge and whipped cream and then, she remembered. "I really, really need a hot chocolate." I put the ice cream in my cart while I pondered possibilities. Hurry through the checkout, get home, start barking orders and get this day into full production mode? Stop for hot chocolate?
We stopped at the in-store Starbucks. She chose a hot pink balloon and then settled into her chair and chattered happily about next year when she's fifteen and her feet touch the floor. I took a picture of her with my cell phone and sent it to Mike at Newark. He agreed that she should have hot chocolate when she goes on a Mommy date to the store. On the way home, the radio reminded me that all too soon, she will indeed be fifteen and her feet will touch the floor.
The computer was open when I walked inside. Mary Beth had found the king cake recipe and she was ready to bake. Because Mike would have just enough time for lunch before leaving to direct a game locally, we decided to have our Mardi Gras feast a little before noon.
He came home to happy noises about a sparkly cake and all were fed. Three of the boys left to go to work with him. My neighbor took Mary Beth, Stephen, and Katie to sled on a big hill with her kids a few miles from home. I put Sarah down to sleep and planned to finish writing a talk and catch up on some computer work. But as the big kids pulled away, Karoline melted into a puddle of despair.
We spent the next two hours reading every Jan Brett book we own.
We made gingerbread tea with lots of sugar and heavy cream. Time moved slowly.
Then, we tried out the new floor in the sunroom by twirling pirouettes until we fell into a dizzy, giggling snuggle.
That woke the baby. So, we played "friend moms" with our babies until the floor guys came to finish their job. Karoline helped them with the tape measure.
Mary Chris returned with the other kids and had time for a quick cup of tea before I had to take Mary Beth to ballet. She took everyone but the baby and Mary Beth back to her house so they could have a "curling" competition in the basement. Mary Beth and I hustled out the door. We had time for an errand and dinner on the run. And she needed to have a big talk. We had time for that, too. All good things.
When I got home, there were messages on the phone and messages on the computer. But I didn't get to them. We had dinner and baths and more books and then I got sidetracked by a book that had arrived in the mail earlier in the day. Almost an entire day without much more than a glance or two at the computer...
Around ten o'clock, I started catching up online. And I worried about the yet unfinished talk. And I saw the drastic changes to the basketball schedule. Grace leaked all over the place. I barely slept.
What if. What if instead of reading 300 words here and there all over the internet all day long, I just read one book at a time? One hundred fifty pages or more of complete thoughts and careful writing. Would I stop thinking in those short, snippy, often snarky phrases that mirrored what I'd read online?
What if instead of posting status updates about what's for dinner and how's the weather, I saved up my writing time so that I could write something of substance a couple of times a week? I really think there's room on the internet for longer, beautifully published pieces. I have seen some incredible ones lately--whole pieces that give chronicling life online the beauty and dignity it deserves.
What if I checked the computer after prayer and before the kids got up and then didn't touch it again until time to make sure all afternoon activities were on as scheduled? And then not again? Certainly not right before bed.
Would time move more slowly? Would I have time for more storybooks and pirouettes? More big talks (and bigger listens)? Would I feel more connected to important people and less distracted by near strangers?
I hear there are rules in the world of social networking. What if I re-wrote those rules for me and my house?
I think we'd reconnect in the important places.