The other night, Colin was sprawled on my bed, watching basketball. He looked up at me. He smiled. He spoke- “mom, come here. I want to watch basketball with you.”
I swooned.

These are interesting times in our house. With Colin, I am often the source of great amusement, for what I wear, what I know and don’t know, (who is Kendrick Lamar?) and how I text.

Then he wants me to listen to a song he loves, or offers to lend me his basketball sneakers to go to zumba class.*

My daughter is 10. She went to see a teacher got married and needed to ask the next door neighbor for eyeshadow, my selection wasn’t flattering to her skin tone. And while I was making dinner tonight, she marched up to me in the kitchen, in front of the stove, thru her arms around me and declared it was time to snuggle.

I packed up all of Colin’s boy clothes last week. A thousand hats, he never wore one. Fifteen different teeshirts from basketball camp and summer camp and football practice. Little boy pajamas with dinosaurs and fire trucks and skulls.

In the midst of all these changes I’ve been on a bit of a cleaning bender. The hard thing is, Colin is thirteen. Katy is nine. They are used to my bi monthly half hearted attempts to get the house in order. They listened to the speech. They made their beds. They put the clean towels into the linen closet instead of on the floor in front of the linen closet. This all lasted about three days, every couple of months. Before.

When Back To School struck this year, I decided we were going to get the house in order. And that meant all of us. I regard clean clothes perched on the stairs the way I used see Sophie’s poop when she’d been left home too long. Socks in the hallway send me into a frenzy. And stuffing all of the offending articles into the closet and then closing the door doesn’t work anymore either. In the old days, I wouldn’t open the door. Now I do.

And of course, along with Back To School, the New Leaf Cleaning Policies, there are all of the Back to School Activities- swim team, football, youth group, flute lessons. And there is my job. And my other job. And two classes at Quincy college. And dinner, and friends, and the gym.

I have to go to the gym. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been struggling with asthma. Mostly at night. My lungs wheeze, it sounds like I have a choir of Who’s from Whoville singing in my chest. I can’t catch my breath. Yoga seems to help. And an extended time spent in the sauna after yoga helps even more.

It’s not surprising, I guess. My family has started careening forward towards the next part, the part where I have to learn to let them go. I can clean, watch basketball, burn dinner while I cuddle on the couch, zumba till the teacher throws me out, and it’s not going to slow down. And when I do slow down, when I lay me down to sleep, I lose my breath.

It returns. And I go back to sleep, and wake up to the most charismatic of canines, Sophie. Sophie groans when I first reach down to say good morning. And then she wags, not just her tail, her whole body. And she shivers, and sighs, and wedges closer to my body. I know she really, really needs to get outside. Even so she will stay in bed in bliss right next to me until I have to pry myself away and return to vertical.

That’s how things are right now in our house.

*Don’t ever wear basketball sneakers to zumba. Ever. They are incredibly hard to dance in, and more important, they look really, really stupid.

While I was making dinner tonight, I realized I was basking in the glow of a very good day. You know the feeling that lingers-  after the moment of accomplishment, a really good compliment or just after you’ve figured out an inspired solution to a difficult problem,(“Im thinking about the time I had to have a discussion with Aunt Joan about her, um, peculiar smell, but she’s still alive so I’ll save that story, and the inspired solution for a few years in the future.) When Katy figured out how to ride her two wheel bicycle,  I experienced major glow that lasted for days. When Colin got accepted to an AAU team, my heart fluttered every time I thought about it, every time I looked at him. When I make a meal both of them will eat, happily, no negotiations required, I glide thru the post dinner dance of dishes and counters and searching for tupperware tops.

In the middle of the nightly gotta make dinner two step- chopping peppers and peering into the oven at a chicken, still a pale yellow, except for  herbs on his back and the bacon wrapped around his legs, washing the spinach, and searching for more garlic, in the middle of a  hectic, rushed, half an hour intended to result in a delicious meal for four, I realized my feet were not touching the ground. That the missing garlic wasn’t making me anxious, or sending me rushing to the market for more. I was happy, and singing along to the radio, and smiling at the cat, who wasn’t smiling back because he isn’t happy with the order of operations. (People eat before pets.)

I had started a class last night, Exercise Facility Management, with an amazing teacher that is in charge of the Quincy Y in Quincy, MA. Unlike a lot of professionals, who take up teaching part-time, she was fascinating, engaging, and able to make a discussion about human resources paperwork interesting. This morning, I signed up to start working with disabled individuals during their workouts in a partnership program with the local YMCA. And I got to spend time with the king of exercise science at Quincy College, Dr. Wayne Westcott. He is enthusiasm personified, and may I just note the man doesn’t drink coffee, doesn’t even know what a munchkin is. During my class time with him, he chose me to help a young lady who had signed up for the wrong glass and had never even been on a piece of cardiorespiratory equipment. It felt terrific to be one introducing this lovely girl to something that just might change her life. And to top it all off, Kathi Schaeffer, my supervisor at the college, made arrangements that will allow me to take on the role of eyes for a blind student during her Nutrtition Lab.

All that good stuff has nothing to do with kids, or dogs, or even music on the radio.  It is about   having an opportunity to surround myself with amazing, smart people, and the joy I feel when they recognize me in their midst.  For the first time in a long time, I have found satisfaction outside my home, away from my family, unaccompanied by a gentle nudge of a cold, wet nose.

I think I’m growing up a little bit. I think I have ventured out of the nest and discovered some parts of the world are pretty wonderful. And the best part of all of this is, tonight, at dinner, if the chicken doesn’t burn, and the spinach isn’t too soggy and we have ketchup for the potatoes, I will be able to talk about all of the wonderful things that happened to me lately. I know Colin and Katy will be happy to listen. Since Colin got a Smart Phone, most of our dinner time conversations have focused on the dangers of the internet, the necessity of me having his passcode, (non-negotiable) and why, even though I’ve taken the test three times, I still fail miserably at his game Are You Prepared for A Zombie Invasion. We could all use a little break, at least until Katy hijacks the conversation with the question I’ve been waiting for… “Mommy, when can I get a smart phone?”

When one of the lovely people I just told you about gives me a job, my dear.