Him (takes huge bite of cereal): I don't know.
Silence hangs. A couple of years ago I would have received thirty crazy ideas for what to write about. Aliens taking over the world, if all our furniture came to life, how you cut your arm and had to get stitches. I take a picture of the cat and post it on Instagram. I notice that my Instagram feed is becoming a series of pictures of our cat. Oh well. Some people like cats I guess.
My coffee is cold. I warm it up; it's almost 6:45 and the youngest child isn't out of bed yet. I don't blame her. Every day they get up, go to school, have after school activities, and then come home and do homework. It's your job, I say when they complain. Find the good. You're building a knowledge base and expanding your brain power. You see your friends. School is fun.
I know it's a lot. They are used to it, can handle it. Just like I handled it for years.
These kids are growing up and out. Few weekend nights find all four of us under the same roof. They make plans, only need my driving services and spending money and the occasional help with arranging carpooling. Can you find a ride home? I ask more than I ever thought I would. Not long ago I'd set up the activity and arrange it all behind their backs and let them know what was going on.
Now they are reminding me what is going on.
* * *
It's Christmastime and our house isn't decorated because holiday decorations get in the way of house projects. We planned it like this, even though we didn't really think about what Christmas without a Christmas tree would look like, would feel like. It's strangely freeing. My daughter noted that it's hard to imagine that it's Christmas because we don't have those markers of the season in every corner of our home. She wasn't complaining. It's Christmas everywhere; you just can't see it. I turned the Christmas music up on the radio after she said that.
It's nice, having teenagers. Nobody says it. But it is. They are the babies we watched grow. They are our family, our people. They have their own opinions and thoughts and personalities and they surprise us with what they know and frustrate us with what they haven't yet learned. I like seeing their two- and five- and ten-year old selves in their words and actions today. I like having a holiday marker like Christmastime to remember how life looked in the past, to think about how much they've grown, how much we've all changed.
It doesn't really look like Christmas, it's true. There's plastic sheeting making a division between the dusty and non-dusty sides of our house. We have caution tape instead of stair railing, boxes of supplies where our Christmas tree usually stands. I found the Santa hats and hung them on a chair.
It's okay. We are making memories, as they say. This is the year we did house projects instead of decorate for Christmas. When our teenagers are all the way grown, it will be just another blip in their conversations when they remember Christmases past. This one will come up and they will remember how Mom and Dad made the questionable decision to do home construction over the holidays.
Hopefully I will be there to defend our decisions. To say it didn't really matter. To remind them that we still had Christmas, even though it didn't really look or feel like it.
I think they will agree.