We’ve been holed up at home with a flu for weeks now. It’s a yucky and tricky sort of thing that gives the impression of fading, only to come back again in full force with new symptoms. I think, for me anyway, periods of illness have got to be the hardest part of raising a large family.
Though I don’t actually think of our family as large. It doesn’t feel large from the inside, since there is not a single component that we could very well do without. But the last time I tried to argue this point Steve put me on the spot by asking that I list families with more children. This I gladly began by naming a few families that I’m acquainted with through the wonders of modern technology. At which point he stipulated that I must know them in real life; decidedly harder. And the answer is two. I personally know of two contemporary families with more children than us. Though going back a generation or more changes things radically; my mother is one of seven, his father is one of thirteen. So it’s all a matter of perspective!
Still with seven people in one house, illness takes a tiresomely long time to work it’s way through.
The reasonable sorts of things that Steve does when I’m completely incapacitated with the flu: keep an eye on the kids, try to keep up with the dishes, maybe wash and put away a load or two of laundry… The highly unreasonable sort of things that I do when Steve is entirely laid up with the flu: attempt to completely remodel the pantry, entirely covering every flat surface in the main living area with it’s contents, making it nearly impossible to cook or find a place to eat, or well, move, allow the toddler to spread every single canning jar lid and ring I own out on the floor to keep her busy and therefore out of my way…you know, that kind of thing.
For the record, not my fault. And not my plan. When I was too sick to move someone dropped something heavy on a bag of yams. The yams were split open and then buried and well you can imagine the state they were in when I discovered them. It was a symptom of a greater, long-standing pantry problem. I will not bore you with the details, but let’s just say the situation snowballed and rapidly morphed from a cleaning project into a construction project. So, add a number of tools to the mess you are picturing in your head right now. And me using them between sneezes while taking frequent breaks so as not to pass out. And Steve so sick that for like two days I’m not even sure he knew there was full out deconstruction happening right under his nose.
Galen put on a light show for those of us who were upright on New Year’s Eve, using his new Snap Circuits Light Effects kit (highly recommended for scientifically minded people in middle childhood). In the mess on New Year’s day I cooked a fancy, but easy dinner. This served with kale and applesauce and sparkling cider. And we all found a corner somewhere to eat it, together more in spirit than physically. I pulled Seraphina up our road in her little red sled; the first time we’d felt well enough to stray a bit from home. Together the two of us greeted the moonrise on the first day of the year.
“‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops – at all - “~Emily Dickinson
2015 was a very hard year for us and 2016 harder still. So much more so than I’ve ever let on here, or I think could even put into words. Often in the last couple years I’ve wondered if that poem didn’t go the wrong way round. Instead of an uplifting force it’s seemed to me that she should have implied that hope is a flighty thing, difficult to grasp and often painful to try to hold. But I have hope for this new year, despite it’s rather inauspicious beginning. I have no resolutions, but certain thoughts and ideas that I wish to take with me into the new year.
Welcome 2017. I’m cautiously optimistic about what you might bring.