Friday night is "movie night" in our home, and while this once might have included overpriced popcorn and previews too violent for open eyes, of late it has been movies like "The Rookie" or "The Muppet Movie" with microwave popcorn for four. If my week has been like most of my weeks are, about 15 minutes into the movie, I'm attentive and watching, and about 30 minutes into the movie, I'm sound asleep.
Being awake on this Friday as the clock pushes on toward midnight feels positively reckless....particularly when I need to be at work at 8am for a conference. But I'm awake, nonetheless, and wild though that concept might be, tomorrow evening will bring a nap, I hope. Matt and the kids are away, visiting his parents while I trudge through a variety of work and school events that would have me feeling like a poor, absent parent if they were home, but attentive and loyal to my employer with them away.
It's strange to be alone in the house. I'm never alone in the house. When I open the door at 5:30 or 6pm each evening, I see Matt typically standing at the stove, and the first child to see me yells, "Mommy's home!" and comes rushing toward the door for a hug. It is a moment of bliss in days that are sometimes stressful and long. So what to do when they are away and there are no sounds, no hugs, no dinner on the stove when I come in?
First of all, I attended a concert. It was more the type of concert I would have attended in college than now--Bethany Dillon, Sanctus Real and Steven Curtis Chapman. I've been a casual fan of the music of Bethany and Steven for some time now, though, and they were playing down the road for a more than reasonable price. I won't enter into the full existential crisis I experience when I attend so-called Christian events and try to determine my current fit in that crowd. I will simply say that I enjoyed the message of love--the message that right now in this moment I am being loved...you are being loved...we are all being loved. And I enjoyed that Steven was up there playing with his two sons in the band--the 18 year old on guitar and the 16 year old a maniac on the drums. It was a wonderful illustration of how we might grow and learn and change with our kids. It was a reminder that I really, deeply, truly love my family. As I drove home, I did something I almost never do--I spoke aloud to God. I asked God--whether Being, Force, Big Person on High, Bold Idea in my Mind, Energy, or Pure Love--to open my eyes wide to the gift of my family.
I returned home to a still-quiet abode--listening attentively for any scratching or scurrying to indicate that the mouse Matt cheerfully released from our basement earlier had returned. Luckily no sounds--and so far no mouse. (I told Matt he would return home to a feline member of the family if a mouse pops in for a visit while I'm here alone.) I walked down to the basement (showing the mouse I'm not afraid!) and noticed for the first time all the wood Matt has been diligently stacking in the basement to keep us warm through the winter. It is literally stacked from floor to ceiling, and with it, the woodstove hums happily of heat for the whole house. Signs of Matt's love for us and his care for our home are everywhere, but particularly evident these days in the basement. We have an extra refrigerator/freezer combo stacked with food primarily purchased by him to be prepared almost exclusively by him. Where piles of laundry could sit are stacks of empty baskets--the clothes are clean and put away. And yes, of course, there is all that wood--as much as my eyes could take in. God was answering my prayer--I was noticing, seeing, and fully appreciating this member of my family.
I came upstairs to write this tale of love, of prayers answered, of satisfaction for having what I have and being where I am, and suddenly an alert popped up to add my in-laws' Skype address to my contacts list. As I was writing about the bliss of this knowing and noticing, I actually had a chance to see and speak with my muse of the moment--and now my eyes are not only open, I am wildly wide awake. Noticing. Appreciating. Feeling grateful.