The whole family came home over the holiday weekend. Each of our daughters, along with their significant others (and Fee, of course), were here from Wednesday through Sunday afternoon.
It was a busy time – full of laughter and sarcastic banter, arguments and tears – the usual for our family. During our daughters’ teenage years because there were so many women living here the joke was that this was the “house of hormones”. Now that the girls have brought home boyfriends and a husband, the female/male ratio has evened, but the emotions remain. There will always be squabbles and disagreements, but we also have our fair share of fun and hilarity. Our times together are precious and few and the conflicts fade away to be replaced by wonderful memories and only a few battle scars.
When everyone is here there is always a flurry of activity. People spill from one living space to the next. Conversations are shouted room to room, and in the summer from room to porch to deck. Snacks and drinks abound and the dogs are thrilled by the attention and opportunity to beg at all hours. By around 9 or 9:30 PM when everyone has usually retired to the living room to watch movies or play games I normally begin to flag. Quite often I excuse myself to the solitude of my own room to sleep while they all have a good two to three hours of merriment left to make.
I am a bit of a night wanderer. I have always been one, but middle-age (and a glass or two of wine) seem to wake me most nights around 3 am or so. It is this time, when everyone is unconscious and dreaming, that I feel the most peaceful and content. It is such a comfort to know that everything I hold dear is here on the Hill, safe and sound, tucked in for the night. I love to walk the upstairs hallway and feel the even hum of all of them breathing and turning in their sleep.
I will often sit in the darkness of the living room, surrounded by their things (they have so MANY THINGS) and remember nights when they were all small. During those early years I would be awake with a fussy baby, or a six-year-old terrified by a nightmare. I spent many a dark night worrying about things….their grades, their boyfriends, their college scholarship applications…back then the early hours of the morning felt like a lonely time when nobody else in the world was awake but me.
Now when they are all here those wakeful moments in the middle of the night help me to realize how very lucky that I am. I am fortunate that my children are relatively happy and healthy, living fulfilling lives on their own, away from us. I am grateful that they choose to come back to visit us as often as they do, bringing others along with them to spend time here on the Hill. Their joyful returns to their childhood home – the home that their father grew up in, help me to appreciate the place a little more. I love to hear the stories of their memories here and now to have them share it with the ones that they love as well.
It will be some time before we are all together again. While I wait for that occasion I will remember the feeling of contentment that I had while I listened to the quiet of the house as they slept. All together, here on the Hill.