Family Time

Five heavy breathers.

One still asleep. (He is trained to sleep through anything except the slightest sound of danger or the pager. It's a survival skill.)

One tail-wagging awake and annoying the rest of us.

And the other three. My boy, my girl and me. All laboring winter through our noses. One cuddling, one kick-testing boundaries, one shushing.

The wind murmurs and lashes out. It feels personal. But with a rattle and a shudder, the window takes the blows intended for us, and we are spared.

I'm trapped. And I mean literally. Pillows and blankets from neighboring rooms construct the walls. Warm snotty-nosed bodies anchor me on either side. And I don't care as much about freedom (to sleep in, for once) as I used to. I'm okay with being boxed in and stepped on (ouch! that was my shin! please lay down!). I'm okay with being forced out of bed before my time. Because....

"I need tissue!"
"I'm ready for break'ast."
"I need ta go potty."

"Okay," I say. And the dog jumps for joy and shakes her booty all the way to the door.

"I feed her, p'ease?"

"Okay," I say. And the girl gets the kibble and grins through the pouring.

"Can I pour my own orange juice?"

"Okay," I say. And the boy gets the juice and grins through the pouring.

"What are we going to do today?" they ask, before coffee, before I have plan A or B or really, any coherent thought.


It's 7 a.m. Breakfast is over. We have colored and cut and glued Mary & Joseph onto a blue paper frame.

"Hey, we don't cut the glue, Honey." I say.

"I not!" she denies.

"I'm done. Now what can I do?" he asks.

"You can wipe your nose." I cough and grab a tissue. Make that two tissues.

We are sick enough to hide out at home, but not sick enough to sleep.
We are well enough to build block towers, but not well enough to build a snow fort.

"Come on, Mom. You do the train tracks. I'll do the parking garage."
"Okay," I say.

I feel the minutes rolling one upon the other, like snowflakes to a snowman. We pile and gather and pack it all down.

And later I step back. And I smile at the lopsided hours we've fashioned into the shape of family.

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