“The best moment of our lives was one quiet repeated day of work in our house. – Donald Hall
I spent my day busy with the mundane. Awaken and take out and feed the dogs, make breakfast for the girls, check my email, boil water for tea, pay a bill. Drive to the grocery store, haircuts, then back home to work at the dining table with the sounds of small girls whirling around me as they spread markers, dinosaurs, and paper around the house.
There is lunch and snacks and reading books and tending to hurt feelings. Then attempts to clean or do laundry. We have dinner and a bath and read more books and I lay in the dark listening to their breathing deepen as they drift off and I struggle to stay awake and make a mental a list of all the things I should get done after they are asleep.
And I’m happy.
At my mother’s house, I read the newspaper. I checked the obituaries as I tend to do, finding comfort when the entire section is full of octogenarians or better.
I want my obituary to be a photo of me at 30 years old next to a description of 100 years of life lived while quietly shrinking to the size of a bird and loudly loving on people around me.
Fred Achatz died at age 90. His obituary read: Poet Donald Hall wrote, “The best moment of our lives was one quiet repeated day of work in our house.” Fred D. Achatz, a man of repeated, quiet work, passed away on Thursday, February 8, 2018.
It went on to list his loved ones and his works and his contributions to our community. But I was stopped by this quote and this line. Nothing in text has ever so encompassed the way I want to feel about my life when I reach it’s very end. I want to spend it in places I love with people I love doing ordinary, necessary, wonderful things that make life possible and prodigious. Beyond that, what even is there.
In between the measured chaos of our daily routine, my seven-year-old learns to read. I watch her eyes move slowly over signs and through books, watch her lips slowly sound out letters and words. I listen to my four-year-old whisper to her figurines, laughing at her own jokes. They help fold laundry, they fight over stuffed animals, we lose track of time and end up in our pajamas until noon. Or so.
I find time to run a small business, in my pajamas, to support women and work that feels important to me. To provide income to our family and exercise for my mind. I won’t cure cancer or win a Pulitzer prize, I will pay the mortgage and connect to people who inspire me.
I spend hours in conversations with Dave, my mom, my sister, and Jess about parenting and music and ice cream flavors. I stay awake late on endless text chains with Raquel and Bernadette shaking emoji fists and the proverbial sky and grieving with one-word sentences and celebrating with GIFs.
The quiet repeated day of work in my life is learning and cleaning and planning and connecting. The quiet repeated work of my life is paid work and house chores and helping our neighbors and preparing meals.
And I’m happy.