It's nights like tonight, when Lillie climbs up onto the kitchen chair next to me and throws dirty socks into my bowl of spaghetti. It's nights like this I sigh a lot. I sigh when I see the huge mountain of laundry piled on my bed (at least it's clean). Or when I survey the need for dinner, baths, homework, chores, phone calls, cleaning, kids' individual time, clipping their fingernails, and realize with a big weight that there is no way I can do everything.
There's always a bright side. That silly run that Lillie does down the hall, her legs hardly bending, drool seeping out of her gaping smile, her shoulders scrunched up toward her ears and her chest out, no part of her prepared to catch her body when she falls. There's nothing funnier than seeing her run.
I have no photos tonight, only a picture in my head of all my girls in the grocery cart, meandering down the aisles. They were all in one place, concentrated in a four foot square, sharing space and brushing up against each other like it was normal. This is their world, every waking moment spent with their lives revolving around each other, sharing a room, arguing about food, noticing unfairness in everything.
I think when they're older I will long for the ability to concentrate them into a small space again like that. Have my lanky-six-year-old feed my baby part of her free supermarket cookie. I may not even miss their ages quite as much as I'll miss our closeness, our daily battle for survival. It's hard, but I love it.