Claire's bare feet slap down the hallway. It's still dark. She curls up on the couch next to me and accepts half of my blanket. She slept well, she says. She'd like a bagel for breakfast, she says. I let her warmth seep through my pajamas and into my skin before getting up to pour the milk and spread the butter. The baby will be up any moment.
Ruthie is napping and I'm done with the dishes. Eliza puts her Barbie scene on hold to play a game with me. Candyland, today. Her whole voice quivers with excitement. What if I get Princess Frostine now? she wonders before nearly every turn. She wins three times. I only rig it once. We're just putting the lid on the box when Ruthie wakes and I go upstairs to feed her a snack.
It's 3:30 p.m.
Claire is home from school. She and Eliza disappear downstairs. I plan to make dinner later and I've already swept all the dog hair off the floor. So I sit on the rug. Read each book Ruthie hands me. Play upside down peek-a-boo between her legs. Let her crawl all over me until one of the girls comes tattling up the stairs.
It's 9 p.m.
All the kids are in bed. Finally asleep. But even through their closed doors I feel each individual strand of their separate gravitational pulls. And that makes me so I'm glad I'm not the moon. I'm glad I'm not bound, tied, anchored in any specific orbit because a circle can only have one center point and I cannot fathom what kind of impossible loops I would have to make to be owned by them all.
I do not revolve around my children. Instead, I'm grounded. Right here. And I give to each of them what I can as they spin crazily through these skies.