On Mondays I change the sheets on the bunk beds. It's odd, this feeling of accomplishment that I get when I finally wrestle the fitted sheet over that blasted top mattress. Ten years ago I would never have dreamed of a life in which that was the greatest achievement of my day.
And yet, here I am. Just me. Mom. Wrestling sheets onto beds, folding load after load of laundry, cooking meal after unappreciated meal. I plug through my day doing all of the little things that moms do and don't get me wrong, I am so grateful to be here, so thankful that I AM at home. I wouldn't trade it to go back to that world of dress-up suits and heels tapping down long hallways and tracking what I did every single minute of my work day.
But here I am, and when the greatest achievement of my day is wrestling sheets onto a bed I can't help but feel mediocre. Is this all I have that says who I am? A master sheet wrangler? (Not to be confused with sheep wrangler, because that at least would be unique and perhaps worthy of conversation.)
Not like my friend who takes stunning pictures and fills a room with her presence.
Not like the ones who ooze musical talent and artsy musician charisma out of every pore.
Not like the ones who can strike up conversations with every person they meet and leave having made a new friend.
Just me. Introverted. Quiet. Middle-aged. Mom. In a world geared towards the young, the extroverted and the hip I am quickly slipping into irrelevance.
And then the bus comes, delivering the boys home from school. Only it doesn't. Or at least, not both of them. Gates is the only one to come in the house and I can't figure out why he is asking me if Indy has also come inside. It takes at least a full 30 seconds to figure out that Indy was engrossed in reading a book on the bus and rather than just poking him Gates somehow thought it would be more effective to come inside and THEN ask ME if his brother got off the bus. 30 seconds of time that allowed the bus to turn the corner and by the time I slip on shoes and run out the door and down the block it is gone, turning down some other street carrying my child with it.
I know he's not lost, but I picture him looking up and realizing that he's missed his stop, or the bus driver reaching the middle school and discovering a 1st grader still on board, and what then? Just as I get the school on the line the bus pulls up in front of our house again, delivering a tearful child. He shuffles in the door and then sits sobbing on the steps, my arms around him.
And in that moment, when my child needs the circle of my arms to feel safe, I know that I am not yet irrelevant. No one else can take this place. There is nothing that I could accomplish in this life that would ever compare to what I have to give these children. Anyone could wrangle sheets onto their bed, but it's MY bedtime hug that they want. Anyone could prepare a meal for them, but I am the one who makes sure that they are fed each and every day.
For these years, at least, I am not irrelevant.