I ran into a friend at the library today. She had a grande something-yummy-with-whip in her left hand, and in her right hand were three of the novels that have been on my "to read" list for so long that I had even forgotten to put them into my Paberbackswap wishlist. She'd just come from getting her hair done, she said--and indeed, her hair looked as fresh and springy as the very hip dress boots she was sporting.
"You here with the little ones?" she asked, tilting her chin to Manolin, who was strapped into the stroller, scowling. Oliver stood dutifully nearby, mumbling, "Howwd dight, 'Li. Howwd dight, 'Li," as a reminder of his role in this whole process.
"Oh, no. They're all around here somewhere," I said, waving my hand to indicate that my offspring were lurking deep in the stacks. Not deep enough, apparently; Just then, Logan bounded by, followed closely by our rattling, overstuffed book bin.
"I don't know how you do it," she told me then, and I pondered this familiar phrase anew. What part is so novel? What seems impossible? At what point, I wonder, do I approach insanity in the eyes of the masses?
"It's not that tough," I said then, catching the beautiful sight of my daughter's lithe form heading towards me with a toothy grin, arms full to bursting with her haul of reading material. "They're great kids."
"Yeah, but ...." and she stopped for a minute, pondering the plausibility of it all. "You gave up all of this," she raised her latte and reading material, "for that." Again, she nodded in the direction of my little brood.
I couldn't think of a thing to say, so she filled the silence.
"I have the best of both worlds," she continued. "I've got my kids. And when they're at school, I get this too."
She offered me a the Cheshire Cat grin of one who has figured it all out.
Just then, Atticus--who must have spent the past ten minutes plotting out his sneak attack--wrapped his arms around me in a bear hug from behind, nearly toppling me over in surprise. I laughed so hard that Manolin and Oliver caught the giggles and started shrieking. Our joy echoed through the stillness of the library. I ruffled Atticus' copious strawberry-blond hair.
My friend was staring at me now. Her eyes had softened.
"My nine year-old wouldn't be caught dead hugging me in public," she admitted with a longing sigh.
I contemplated her coffee, her new haircut, her ability to read for hours on end, uninterrupted. I could still feel the firmness of my delighted, delightful Atticus' arms as they snaked around my sides. I made a mental note to check my Paperbackswap wishlist status, and to put a Starbucks card on my Christmas list.
"God bless you," I told her, and I meant it. "Have a great day."