In honor of Mother’s Day weekend, I spent from 6 am to midnight on Saturday working working working. It was one of those days where I hardly had time to eat (wish that happened a little more frequently) and my body ached all over by the time I finally crawled into bed, but it actually felt good to get so much accomplished. I tackled some projects I’d been meaning to get around to for months, the largest of which was to sort through every stitch of children’s clothing in the house (many boxes and many hours’ worth) and pack away the clothes we are saving and give away the rest. I took not one but two trips to the thrift store, where they were kind enough to tell me “thanks for your donation” and hand me coupons as I unloaded on them several garbage bags full of my purgings. Suckers. (Of course, I’ll be back next week to use those coupons and pay them real money for a pile of things they got from someone else for free. Who’s the sucker now?)
My laundry room is now clean. The drawers on my children’s dressers—the ones that used to require the thigh and back strength of linebackers to wrestle shut—now glide into place with at least a centimeter of head room to spare. My home feels a little lighter. My list of things to do is shorter. What more can a mother ask for?
In my sortings, I came across a box of old calendar pages. In our leaner years, the only way I could afford to decorate our home was to buy artsy calendars on clearance in February and cut the paintings out and frame them with whatever used frames I could find and refinish. One of the pieces of art I rediscovered on Saturday must have come from a calendar we had actually used because on one side was a gorgeous painting by Frederick Carl Frieseke and on the other side—the month of May, 1995—there were notes and scrawls about appointments and such. The fascinating part was not so much the notes themselves, but the huge empty gaps in between. In the entire month of May, there are only six days with anything written on them (and one of those things is a reminder to watch a documentary on TV so it hardly counts as a pressing engagement). The rest of the boxes are blissfully naked. How is it even possible that I once lived a life of such negative space?
I’m sure if you had asked me at the time, I would have told you I was a very busy person. I was working full time. I was teaching a class each semester. I was cooking and cleaning for two. Ken and I were hunting for a new house that summer. And I was pregnant (one of our six May appointments was the ultrasound that would tell us our first boy was on the way). But truly, in comparison to the effusive, ink-covered calendar that currently hangs on my kitchen wall, May of 1995 was a positively peaceful month. I would even dare say it felt much like the painting on its reverse side. I must have strolled through the days like the woman in pale green, taking a moment to examine a dainty stem of hollyhocks. She blends right in, another column of greenery among the rest. She is surrounded by flowers and space and time in abundance. I can’t even imagine having that kind of leisure.