the thank you plate

11:44 AM


It's late at night and I'm extracting tiny socks and tee shirts and little girls underpants from the dryer. The only light is the small bulb inside the drum and the only sound is the whoosh of the dishwasher. I scoop it all out - my husbands tube socks, my seventeen pairs of yoga pants, bibs stained with sweet potatoes, my daughter's favorite pajamas adorned with tiny blue flowers, onesies (so many onesies) and a few kitchen towels. And I think to myself "wasn't 2006 just yesterday???"
I think... Didn't we just make out in the car while Akon sang "I Wanna Love You?" Wasn't I just retrieving my Juicy Couture sweatpants from the dryer instead of baby socks? Wasn't I just crying over finals week and filling out those awful FAFSAs?? Wasn't it just yesterday that we graduated, got engaged, married, moved...
Because in reality it does feel that way sometimes. You go from being twelve and feeling like summer is never going to end and Christmas can't possibly come soon enough to all of a sudden it's all happening so fast like bam, bam, bam, babies!! I felt that after college I was always performing some circus act and never allowed to take a break - balancing this and that and spinning all those millions of plates, shutting my eyes for a few hours and waking up to do it all over again. Like a dog chasing a treat except the treat was always replaced as soon as I gobbled it up. Graduate!! Graduate! Oh good you graduated? Get married! Get married!! Oh good you got married?! Get a job! Oh good you got a job?! Have a baby!! Babies! Babies! Oh good you had a baby?? Have another baby! More babies!! And you're running like mad, doing it all, getting it all but you are tired, so very, very tired.
As I leafed through that pile of laundry, sorting it all into four little piles, I realized that this right here was once a dream I had. To live with this man, to bear our children, to dance to Same Cooke in our kitchen while making pancakes on Sunday morning. To sort our laundry. To cook meals for my people and watch them eat it with gusto. To read bedtime stories and tuck them in for the night. To say "I love you" and have the tiniest, sweetest voice whisper back "I wuv you too."
I sat with it. With the ordinary and quotidian beauty of it all. Because the treat has been replaced yet again and once more I am running, running, running. I must stop. I must give myself time to digest what I have just eaten, to savor it (at least a little) and to give myself a moment to wipe my mouth. I've been fed so much goodness in these past couple of years but I don't feel like I'm taking enough time to acknowledge that, to be grateful for it. I think perhaps that is due to the fact that when these miracles happen they don't usually fall into your lap smelling of lavender and sparkling. They are still real, still human and still messy and complicated and full of contradiction.
Take weddings for example - though wonderful and beautiful and full of love they are also full of surly relatives, broken AC units, the wrong song, the wrong flowers... Or a move somewhere wonderful, though exciting and exhilarating, it is also full of boxes and the perpetual sound of tape ripping and my favorite of activities - painting (kidding, just give me a gun). Or, at least for me, childbirth. You're holding this tiny miracle and storing that newborn smell and those little groans in your time capsule and at the same time you're in more pain than you've probably ever been, are struggling with the most basic bodily functions and look like a helium balloon that has been ran over by a car. Twice. You are not in fact clothed in some creamy and billowy confection with a halo around your head and there are no trumpets to announce your child being placed in your arms for the first time. The confection is a bland and probably itchy hospital gown and instead of trumpets you are surrounded by the incessant beeping of a dozen machines. And rolling. What's with all the rolling ( I've learned that everything in a hospital has wheels)?? By the end of my stay I half expected to look down and discover that I myself had sprouted tiny little wheels under my heels.
And yet they're miracles. The moments rain down goodness into our hearts, minds and souls and I am learning more and more that whether we are able to do this in the moment or after the fact we must take the time to soak it up, to bask in gratitude, to taste the fruits of our labors. I don't have the luxury of waiting until the weekend or vacation or an afternoon off to take stock of how blessed I am. I have to make a conscious decision to enjoy it and be grateful for it whenever I can. While doing laundry, while picking up blocks in the playroom for the fiftieth time this week, while sorting the mail, while driving, while falling asleep. I need to make sure that at least one of the millions of plates that are always swirling around in my head are dedicated to enjoying today, right now or maybe yesterday. Because one day soon I'll be sorting laundry full of teenage boys' gym shorts, mini skirts, crop tops and jerseys and I'll think to myself "Wasn't 2015 just yesterday???"

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