I’m home, helping my parents. I chose my word carefully…not “taking care of,” but “helping.” I’m here, just hanging out, really, and in some ways, taking up space. They, raised me, after all.
I am helping in bits and bites. There’s been a lot of moving and comforting the kitten and puppy, when their exuberance overflows in light of life changes they cannot understand. I have sorted beans, and soaked them. I have stood by, supporting them as they do it all themselves.
And early this morning, my sister, who lives at home, and her daughter, my niece, woke early. My sister left for work, and her little mighty woke up ready to start the day, long before the light.
I snuck in to encourage more rest. (Here, as laughter rolls, I can hear you.) She’s a toddler, and like any wee one with toddler proclivities, she told me, “No,” before I’d uttered a word. I said nothing, but I sat, on the end of her little toddler bed, and leaned against the wall, pretending to sleep. She understood.
She buried her face in her pillow, and mewed and mewed, pushing herself into an awkward downward facing dog…feet burrowing into my shins, mind you. I sat. I breathed, I waited.
She settled. At some point, I laid down, and she tolerated that. All five feet, eight inches of me, curled into a tiny toddler bed, plus toddler. At some point, she slept. I slept.
At some point, one of the aforementioned kittens used its tiny claws to climb up my back. I scooped it up and plopped it gently a few feet away. Five times. Finally, I threw some wad of textiles over my back, and he used those, and successfully perched on my hip. And purred, and slept.
Just like that, like a sweetly written children’s story book, we were a strange pile of snoozing cooperation. Later in the morning, I woke to find that my niece was luxuriously stretched out over 7/8 of the pillow, and I was clinging to the crust.
I laughed, and stayed right there. Kitten perched. Bed rail reminding me where my kidneys lie. Clinging to the crust. Listening to her sweet baby breaths. Missing my own sweet babies, because they are not babies any more.
Perfectly happy. And it gave me comfort, to consider that as long as toddlers have needed warm nurturance, adults have been clinging quietly to the crust. This month of gratitude, I am perfectly happy to be here, with the people who raised me, gently on their perimeter. Happy to hear Dad’s life in stories, and tell some of my own in turn.
Happy to consider how now, on the other side of the mess that is growing up, I can see the textile, and not just confusing fibers. Happy to be here, and help however I can, but mostly happy to see them doing just fine, in their own way.