It has become a January tradition for me to sit in this chair that I got to rock my babies in and reflect on what I see and what has changed and where I am.
The view this year is much like last year. The swing is gone, replaced by the kitchen set, but toys still fill the shelves and block the fireplace. Kathleen's babies—Lulu, Baby, Maisie, and Jack (where's Bessie?) are jumbled on top of the stuffed animals along with "Sister's baby" Maxie, who Kathleen informed me is Lulu's brother. The stuffed animals are piled in a huge basket, made by our neighbor and given to us at our neighborhood party two days before Henry was born.
The milkcrates and CD stand still overflow with board books and picture books. One of our actual bookcases, however, is half empty, the books moved to save them from Elizabeth, who has a knack for destroying them.
CDs are piled above the TV all around Henry's picture, where I've stuck them after our pre-bedtime dance parties.
Up until last week, the Christmas tree lighted the corner by the stairs, the first time since 2006 a Christmas tree graced our home. Now, the Christmas ornaments are down, with some snowflakes and snowmen and cardinals (I categorize them all as winter) remain.
From here, I can see that much of the house is a mess, though I don't know if it is more so than years past. I think I just feel more overwhelmed with stuff. Toys, diaper bags, outgrown clothes litter the table and pile by the stairs. I don't worry really about the house being clean. I don't bother to apologize for my messy house. But sometimes, the clutter gets to me. Every time I make headway, we get an influx of clothes or laundry piles up waiting to be put away or I don't have time to finish sorting and everything gets jumbled again. Sigh.
It's messy and lived in and filled with things we love (and things we don't have the time or energy to get rid of (see above). Sitting now, remembering the many steps Elizabeth took today, it's hard to recall just how tiny she was this time last year, how many hours I logged nursing and reading and cuddling in this chair. Thinking of the songs Kathleen makes up, its hard to remember what it felt like sitting with her three years ago, making up songs for her. Looking around this room full of family and life and love and stuff, it's hard to remember the barren walls and just how shocked and adrift I was four years ago. I look again at his pictures and still wonder how this can be my life, how he can be gone. And I look around the room again and wonder how that fits somehow with all that is here, because it does. His being gone is somehow part of this life that we have settled into.