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The hoodlums, Summer 2011 @ 13, 10, 8, 5, 3, & 14m

Once a week—for two blissful hours—I am alone. Now, I don’t meant to sound disrespectful to anyone out there who really is alone, because I know I am beyond blessed with my healthy, energetic clan and my home-every-night husband. (Although sometimes I can’t imagine what he’s thinking, coming straight here after work day after day after day—really, does the man not know freedom when he spots it?) But life is nothing if not relative, and I’ve got to tell you after spending Every Single Day with my loving family, I simply cannot WAIT for Thursdays.

Thursdays, I get to be alone.

Alone. Just me, my “writing CD” (at this time, it’s Jason Aldean’s “Wide Open”), and an ice cold drink. Aside of the music, which is the indisputable pathway to my soul, there’s little noise. Through the open windows of our big truck (which sits high enough to give a pretty good 360 view no matter who parks in the vicinity), a fresh breeze curls around me, bringing with it the scent of horses and fresh cut grass. Sitting there on a bench seat  that rivals the size of my living room couch, I’m surrounded by sweeping green pastures, a big red barn or two, shimmering ponds, and grazing equines. Throw in the ranch’s old trading post and a rustic gravel Main Street lined with saloon fronts, and I could not be FURTHER from real life and my hoard of kids.

My screaming, he-touched-me, she-took-my-pencil, I’m-hungry, I-can’t-get-the-bathroom-door-unlocked, the-baby-is-eating-crayons, are-we-going-anywhere-today, what’s-for-dinner wailing, lovely, precious children.

But it’s okay, because every week, there’s Thursday. And for two hours each Thursday while my two oldest are at riding lessons, my mom watches the other four offspring and I’m alone with my Jason CD and my netbook.  I get a lot of writing done (ya think? LOL!) but there, without the everyday noise, I also do a lot of reflecting.

I think of my husband, who looks at me with stars in his eyes, just like he did the day we met 16 years ago. One who is home every night without fail (even if the very act of doing so makes me question his sanity). A man who works as much as it takes so I can stay at home with the kids, homeschool, and be authorly. (Okay, so maybe the part about spending time with the kids is a bit vengeful on his part, but he’ll tell me and anyone else who will listen he couldn’t do *my* job, so I’ll let it slide, LOL.)

I think about how we six healthy, energetic children who are just lucky enough to think being hungry means an hour between snacks, but won’t hesitate to give whatever they have to someone who needs it more. Kids who’d rather play outside than spend a moment in front of the TV, and who are kind enough to ask me every blessed ten minutes if I need anything while I’m trying to write. (ARGH). Kids who might act like they’d like to kill one another six days, 23 hours, and 45 minutes a week, but when it comes down to it, they’ve got each other’s backs. (Like when the snake was in the house, one son helpfully warned the other not to die trying to catch it.)

And, too, I think of how nice the quiet is, and how they’ll grow up and hopefully do what we’re raising them to do: get the heck out of our house (or maybe not). But either way, we know they’ll be back—probably with kids of their own—and heaven knows the chaos into which our house will descend for Sunday dinners and holidays once we add spouses and grandchildren to the mix.

It seems so far away, but it’ll be here before I know it.

So for now I’ll stop my work when my 13-year-old daughter wants to show me a text from her boyfriend, because who knows how long she’ll consider me a worthy confidante. And when the boys come to see if I need coffee, or my middle daughter asks how to spell “Appalachian” (true story—and she’s FIVE), or my youngest son comes just to kiss me on the cheek, I’ll treasure those moments. Granted, I’m not getting a darn thing done, but that’s okay.

Pretty soon I’ll wonder where it all went.

And besides . . . today is Thursday.

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