I paid money to have my house cleaned. I will skimp anywhere to be able to do that; it gives me that much joy. To walk in my home and have it smell like nothing: a real gift. I clean before she actually cleans, so all of the garbage is out, the toys are put away, the stuff of life is where it goes when you take a break from living in it all.
I’m lying in my warm bed and no kids are in it this morning; they’re one room over discussing the puppy they’re sure Santa is bringing them. I know that one child doesn’t fully believe anymore, though I’m keeping up the charade as we wink and nod at one another. With the littler two there, he does: Hope is contagious and I want to never become immune. I want the same for them.
It’s not sad when they get older for me — not yet anyways, if ever. I like more reasonable people. You get conversations! Discussions! Decent arguments that make me change my mind when I should, date nights with my husband and just one kid — these are all beautiful for me.
Baby believes that a puppy will arrive Christmas morning and, really, — why wouldn’t Baby believe that? He knows who he is. The most oft-repeated phrase in Baby’s life is probably: “Give it to him.”
But Baby is not getting a puppy. I promise you that as much as they currently want the puppy, they’ll be thrilled Christmas morning even still. Why do I know this?
Because I’ve been laying the groundwork for them so that they’re not devastated when there’s no puppy in our family room on Christmas morning: “Santa can’t really bring a puppy... also, we travel a lot... also, I don’t want to deal with a puppy and it’s hard for you to pick up your socks so we’re not there yet...”.
And my daughter said this, which I’m going to put in quotes, but it was a monologue and I didn’t write it down as she spoke, so I’m doing my best at paraphrasing, but I’m missing some. She said:
“I know we probably won’t get it, but could you stop saying we probably won’t? Because I don’t even care if I do, but I like to ask and think about crazy things all month. This is the fun to me. Santa always surprises me with stuff I like better than what I even asked for and that — plus the time I get to picture outrageous stuff he might bring me — is the whole fun for me.”
Honestly? All that she said — same for me. I picture scenarios where I’m reading a portion of the book I’ve written in a room full of people who are feeling it and also not related to me and where I’ve taken the trip to Italy and we’ve just finished dinner in some small Italian town and where did the kids wander off to? Oh, there they are getting gelato across the plaza. Look how grown they are. Is that Italian flirting with my daughter?
I’m here for outrageous imaginings.
Living in the moment? Brilliant, wonderful, necessary and our children can teach us how. But there’s not enough props given to living in our imaginations. Reality starts somewhere and, often, it’s in our games of pretend. I know this because I’m listening to them talk to each other and no one is fighting and, like I said, my sheets are clean and I think I dreamt this scene before. And that’s a small scenario, but our whole trip to Ireland last year started directly in Imaginary Land before I ended up with my husband, our kids, my mom, and a table full of Irish cousins at a table on the second floor of a restaurant on a narrow street in Ireland.
Everything good starts somewhere.
Santa is not bringing a puppy this year, but I am listening to them talk puppy names and whether it’ll come from a shelter or a breeder and where it’ll sleep and who will do what to care for it and this is a moment that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t have a little girl who knows the stuff and reminds me not to interrupt hope. Because there’s a place for that and we should make room for it forever.
These are the gifts we get as they grow.
(Want to be with me when that book I haven’t yet written comes out? Stay in touch and share with anyone who may like to read. Thank you. xoxo).