“I love that you can see the football field,” my husband said as we sat at the dinner table. He was looking out the windows to our backyard. The boys joined the direction of his gaze.
“What do you mean?,” the Oldest asked.
“The grass is thinner there . . . see that? It doesn’t seem to matter who is playing football back there, it always seems to be in that same area . . . leaving a ‘football field’ in the grass,” my husband explained.
Looking at it made me smile. Yes. Proof of life. Signs that people inhabit this home.
Toys left in the bathtub after the water has long since gone down the drain.
Scribbles highlighted through sunlit windows a week after the newest Crayola purchase found the grips of small hands.
Crumbs of cream-filled chocolate cookies scattered on the floor, the remains of a portion of the neighborhood crew scooping out “dirt and worms”.
And scratches etched in the dining table that was once sat mostly unused in a room only meant for formal meals.
Proof of life. Happening.
I used to try to keep up. To keep up appearances. But the endlessness of the tasks piled up. On me. Over me. My to-do list was never to-done. And I realized that in the little leave-behinds, I found a certain comfort of knowing they are here. And I am, too.
Yes. I am aware my children are running all about. I know the Littlest is sans shoes. I know the Middlest is inviting cars to “HONK” as they drive past his mailbox perch post. I know there are 472 bikes strewn about. The Oldest is playing a one-man basketball championship on the neighbors-who-are-like-family’s hoop. And that the dirt all over my sidewalk occurred from an excavation of the front flower bed involving two boys and a golf club.
I am aware that when others walk by, there is proof of life. Three camping chairs gathered in cahoots. A plastic picnic table upturned for whatever reason. The latest adventure left behind in their wake. I know that there are people who might view it as unkempt. I know there are those who wonder Where are their adults? as they rush by, hurried from one thing to the next. And the answers range from folding laundry to working on dinner to letting the kids be kids.
I let their handprints linger a bit longer these days, and their forts get a solid 72-hour existence before they are folded up for another time. Partially because I am trying to keep my sanity in check. Partially because I know how quickly these phases can fade.
As the days collect on top of one another, I will get to the toys in the bath. I will straighten the shoes at the door. Eventually the boys will clean the windows. We’ll someday buff the scratches from the floors.
Maybe we’ll even obtain a new table. And then again, I think running my fingers over the etchings in the table and counting them as leave-behinds of family meals, maybe not. Maybe the table will stay as a relic of this time.
“I love that football field,” I replied. “And the patches worn bare beneath the swings . . . ”
Fewer meals may be had gathered around the table. The football games may become fewer and far between. The grass will grow under our feet as the boys grow before our eyes. And it will feel as though these years will have been flashed before us in a matter of moments.
So for the very right now . . . all the little leave-behinds . . . I will leave in front of me. Not for always. But at least, for a bit.
After all . . . there is a home happening here.
This post originally appeared on Baby on the Brehm
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