In and Out


They are at the door, eager to rush outside and have an adventure.  I open the door and they fly through it to freedom.

They are back again, asking to come inside to rest and relax, maybe to be fed. I open the door again, greet them with a smile, and step out of the way as they rush inside.

And so the cycle repeats. In and out.  Hello!  Good bye!!

In the case of my two big dogs, the “in and out” is expected and understandable. Outside to bark at squirrels, inside to rest and recover. Outside to smell things, inside to nap. Outside to take care of nature’s urges, and inside to see if any food has appeared in the bowl.  That’s what dogs do. I’m OK with it.

In the case of my three kids, I am having a slightly harder time.  I am living in the age of “careful what you wish for.”   Last week I was home alone for three days in a row.  Every day I got up and had my coffee as I watched the news.  I did some laundry,  walked the dogs, did some chores around the house, and settled in to read. At first it was heavenly, but after a while, it began to pull at my spirits.  Too quiet. Too hot. Too silent. I wanted my family around me!

Then they all came home.  A backpack full of dirty clothes sits in the living room.  The giant shoes are scattered downstairs and even on the front steps. Last night the kitchen was bursting as three different meals were cooked in rapid succession. Laughter, noise, cups, plates, grease splatters, barking dogs, music.

At first it was heavenly, but after a while, it kind of made me anxious. I mean, I love them all so much!  I love seeing them, knowing that they are here and happy.  I love the sound of their voices in the house and the way that they joke and share stories.  But the clutter is getting harder to ignore.  And the uncertainty of who will be here when, and who will want to eat, and what they’ll want to eat and how long they’ll stay……. well.  I guess I’m not as flexible as I’d like to think.

The other night I woke up, somewhere around 2 AM.  The kitchen light was on.  Did that mean that Tim was still out? He had gone out with a friend, so counting the number of cars in the driveway wouldn’t help.  I checked the front hall.  One pair of giant shoes sat by the door, but I was pretty sure that they had been there yesterday, so they weren’t a sure sign either.  I didn’t want to go downstairs, to where he sleeps (when he is here!) in the playroom.  I’d need to turn on the overhead lights to know if he was there; it wouldn’t be fair to wake him up at this hour.  I knew that I would just have to wait until morning to find out if he was home.  I trudged back to bed.

It wasn’t as if I had been sleeping soundly before that moment.  I had fallen asleep at about midnight, after checking on a Jet Blue flight from Orlando one last time.  See, Kate was traveling in Costa Rica for three weeks, and was due to arrive at Logan Airport at midnight.  The plane had some mechanical issues, and the arrival time was delayed until 12:30, then 1:00, then 2:00, and even later.  There was a frantic half hour of family negotiations, as we tried to figure out who would be the safest bet to get her home in one piece.  After she assured us by text that she’d just sleep in the airport for a bit after her arrival, I decided to set my alarm for 4 and try to get some sleep.  Sure.

And this brings us to today.  The house is quiet now, because they are asleep.  I am enjoying the peace, using the time to straighten up and put away the dishes.  I am eager to see them when they emerge in a while.  We’ll have coffee, maybe they’ll make omelets or pancakes.  They’ll help mow the lawn and help bathe the dogs.  Then, no doubt, they will rush off again, out into the world to see friends, to hike, or swim or have some adventure or other.   I’ll enjoy the solitude, for a bit.  But then I will start to yearn for the company and the noise once again.

In and out.  I guess this is the way it is supposed to be.

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