Monday, May 18, 2015

A DAY IN THE LIFE

 By Ronnie Mason

Every three months or so, I try to record an entire day in as much detail as I can manage. My last attempt fell on New Year's Day. This time, it fell on Easter Sunday. At the end of the year, my plan is to compile all of this into a small coffee table book.

4.00am
Easter Sunday. Rick's alarm goes off. He quickly turns it off, gets up, gives me a kiss, then leaves the room to go downstairs.
6.30am
Angus comes in, needing to use our bathroom. Afterwards, I ask him to keep sleeping and to not make any noise - reminding him that he and Jamie only slept after nine o'clock last night. I allow myself a bit more time in bed. The sheets are warm and invite me to stay longer. I resist the temptation, and around quarter to, drag myself out of bed to start my new habit of writing in the morning. As I pad quietly down the stairs, Rick greets me with a look of joy and surprise on his face. "You did it!" I grin back, and we embrace. He leaves before seven to set up for the early morning service up at church.
7.00am
I steep myself a cup of tea and pop two pieces of bread in the toaster. Upstairs, I can hear all the boys making noise. I go into Bear first, give him some milk, change his nappy, and tell him he needs to keep sleeping as it's not time to wake up yet. He totally understands. He happily lets me tuck him back into bed and smiles. Oh my heart, he looks so cozy, and I love him so much my heart might just burst if I'm not careful. I go into the big boys. I can see Angus and Pete rush to flatten themselves back onto beds. I stare at them for a little bit while they look back at me, all with guilty expressions on their faces. In a low, stern voice, I remind them that it's only seven o'clock, and they need to keep resting until I tell them it's time to wake up. ("If I have to come in again, someone's going to lose all their dominoes...") I instruct Angus and Pete to get back under their sheets. They comply. I close the door. There is complete silence. I head downstairs, put milk in my tea, and spread butter and jam on my toast. I settle down in the dining room, and try to get back into the headspace for journaling as best as I can, conscious that the boys probably won't remain settled for long but proud of myself nonetheless that I finally got up early to do writing.
8.00am
I eat my toast and sip my tea, savouring the solitude and giving thanks for the beautiful weather. I manage a tiny bit of writing. I also start my Day in the Life narrative. I go upstairs. First, I open the blinds in the corridor. Then I go in to Bear, who jumps out from under his blanket and gives me the biggest smile. We hear the big boys fling open their door as well, and Bear jumps up and down with excitement. The boys rush in, and all four boys squeal with delight. I hurry downstairs, grab my camera, rush back upstairs, and try to capture some frames of them amidst the chaos. I step back for a moment and just watch the four of them. Gosh, we're blessed. I issue my usual Sunday morning instructions to the boys: "Get dressed, make sure you wear a jumper, put your PJs away, make your beds, and put socks on." They hurry away. I help Bear change into his jeans and jumper, and he goes to join the others. I disappear into the bedroom and get dressed and ready myself: woollen sweater, black pants, brush teeth, wash face, Nude powder, brush hair, and clean glasses. Angus and Pete come in with requests for help with their folding up doonas and making beds (respectively). I send them back into their room and encourage them to work together as a team to get their jobs done. Meanwhile, Bear keeps getting into Jamie's bed, which upsets Jamie. I try to distract Bear by inviting him to my bedroom and suggesting that he hides in my closet. He happily obliges. By quarter to nine, the five of us are dressed and all our beds and cots are made. 
9.00am
We eat breakfast downstairs. Angus finishes his Weet Bix first. Then Jamie. Then Pete. They each busy themselves with drawing and colouring in. Bear insists on feeding himself at first but I help him with his final spoonfuls. Once he gets down from his high chair, I turn the television on for the boys. Looney Tunes is on, but I decide to put on Colin Buchanan's Good News Parcel DVD instead. I finish cleaning up and pack my bag for church. I can't quite decide whether I should keep writing or whether I should make myself a Nespresso. I decide on the latter. At quarter to nine, I ask Bear to turn off the television, which he does. I down the rest of my coffee, and the five of us head into the garage for shoes. I put the garage door up. Once their shoes are on, Angus and Pete open the back door of the Discovery themselves, and they climb in. I help Bear and Jamie with their shoes, then strap Bear into his seat. Jamie climbs in himself and I help him with his seat belt. We arrive at church five minutes before ten. Amazing.
10.00am
Rick begins the Easter service promptly. A lot of our regulars are there, along with a couple of guests. The kids stay in for the first bible reading. Then Rick does the kids' drama spot with Tom and Riley, and the children go out to Sunday School with Mr John. Bear and I head into the creche room. I settle down on the edge of the seat, so that I can see through to the lecturn while Bear starts lining up the toy trains on the rug. He plays really well for most of the hour, though there is some tension when he hands me a cup, spoon, and a cube inside and I do not immediately know what he wants me to do with it. Eventually, I work out he wants me to arrange the spoon to fit under the cube so that it doesn't fall out. It's time to start using words, kiddo. 
11.00am
The formal part of the service is over but everybody stays behind to chat over morning tea. I catch up with Bart and Keaton, then speak with Joan and Ross and the boys. I manage a quick chat with Amelia just as she's leaving. Sally and I exchange hugs. I chat with Mr John about his ministry at afternoon church, and I see Rick speaking with Sam about the letter to our parishioners later this week. The Browns and Thomas are the last to leave.* 
12.00pm
There's no need to pack up church as it's the preschool holidays so we leave soon after twelve. We bundle the boys into the car, then Rick gives me the Corolla keys. I motion for him to leave, then I head back home in the green car at a leisurely pace, relishing the peace and quiet. Back at home, Jamie opens my car door for me, and I put him on my lap and he pretends to drive the car for a bit. Bear then comes over and I do the same for him. Once they put their shoes away, the boys all head inside. Rick gets changed and makes a bunch of sandwiches for the boys. I pour them each half a cup of juice. I heat up the chicken and potato leftovers from Thursday, and we all sit around the table together. It's actually really nice having a simple meal at home together on Easter Sunday. 
1.00pm
One by one, the boys go down for naps. First I help Angus and Pete to get settled downstairs: Angus in Rick's study and Pete on the white couch in the lounge room. They each have a blanket and their water bottle. I cover them with kisses and insist that they try to sleep. I stay with Gus for an extra few minutes, as I feel I haven't spoken with him much. I ask him if there's anything he wants to tell me. We end up chatting about his teeth. Meanwhile, Rick takes Jamie and Bear upstairs. He changes Bear's dirty nappy while Jamie starts to change into his pyjamas himself. There's a loud cry so I rush upstairs to see that Jamie has banged his head hard on the doorway. While Rick washes his hands, I place Bear back on the floor then give Jamie a big squeezy hug. Rick returns to do bedtime with Bear so I take Jamie back into his room and help him with the remainder with his clothes. "I want daddy to put me down," he says. I tell him that's fine, that I'll just tuck him in, and then I'll get dad to come in to him. I give him kisses as well and leave him smiling. I pass the message onto Rick then head downstairs to tidy up. When Rick comes down, we swap smiles and hugs, then share our afternoon plans with each other: I'm heading upstairs to do some writing and work, and he's going to clean the stone walls and the patio floors with the borrowed gurney.
2.00pm
Each of the big boys gets up at least once to use the bathroom. Some time later, Jamie comes out again and asks me if it's time to get up. I say no, very sternly. I hear Bear. The opening of Jamie's door has woken him up. I'm feeling very cross and suddenly resent having to work from home. Bear refuses to resettle and ends up spending a bit of time in the laundry. He gets very upset and refuses to let me open the door. I finally manage to extricate him from the laundry, put him on the stairs, and give him a bottle of milk. We sit side by side silently. Once he's done, I explain to him very quietly that it's still nap time and that he needs to lie back down. I carry him up and give him a big, squeezy hug. He lies down in his cot, and allows me to tuck his blanket in around him. We do a small high five. I return to my desk. Finally. Outside, I can hear the gurney (and Rick) hard at work still.
3.00pm
Rick continues his work outside and I persevere with my journaling. 
4.00pm
Nan and Pa arrive. I wake get each of the boys up one by one - first Pete, then Angus, then Jamie, and then Bear. I tell Nan to come upstairs with me so that she can see Bear under his new sheet and blanket. The boys all come in as well, and Bear starts squealing with excitement when he sees us all. He throws his teddy at the boys and they each throw teddy back into the cot. Lots of laughter ensues. I tell Nan how quickly Bear adjusted to his sheets (giving full credit to Jamie for letting Bear climb into his sheets for the last month or so) and Nan is very impressed. We all go downstairs. Angus wants to kick a soft soccer ball with Nan. Pa and Bear immediately start a conversation. Pete wants a ginger nut. Nan tries to make coffee. I make sure Nan's okay before I head back upstairs to finish prepping blog posts. Rick comes in from his gardening work and has a shower. Close to five, I head back into the kitchen to help serve up the boys' dinner.
5.00pm
Whilst the boys eat their dinosaur nuggets for dinner, Rick and I finally have our church meeting in his office. I've smuggled in six dinosaur nuggets, a hot cross bun, and a cup of tea. We debrief about our Sunday Easter service and also plan the week ahead. In particular, we try to work out which day to take off and we're both very aware that Rick has an important letter to write to our congregation. We also talk about Easter Monday, and Rick shows me the track that he'd planned for our drive down South. Our only concern is that it's forecast to rain, but we decide to go ahead with it anyway as it's been so long since we last did a proper road trip. Each of the big boys pop in and out of the office, showing us the Easter eggs that Nan has just given them. Jamie has chocolate all over his face and hands, and Rick and I squeal at almost the same time, "Go wash your hands! Don't touch anything!" The next thing we see is Nan dashing down the corridor after him…
6.00pm
Rick begins to usher the boys upstairs for their shower. I see Pa and Nan out through the garage, as the patio is still wet. I spend a bit of time in Rick's office but there's too much noise coming from upstairs. I go upstairs, grab Bear's pyjamas and nappy from his room, then go into the big boys' room to start putting their clothes away. As I finish emptying the laundry basket, the big boys rush down the corridor. "Do we need singlets, mum?" "Yes." "Do we need jumpers?" "Not tonight. In fact, you can wear your shorts." Bear rushes in with a grin and immediately goes over to his nappy and lies down on the floor. Hilarious. I go over to put it on him, along with his pants, singlet, and t-shirt. I love how he giggles and squirms. Angus and Pete get the hairdryer ready for me, and I go into our bedroom to dry each of their hair. First Pete. Then Bear. Then Angus. I send each of the back into the big boys' room once they're done. By the time I've put the hairdryer away, each of the big boys are lying in bed and Bear is on Rick's chest drinking milk. Rick, as always, is lying on the floor next to Jamie and Pete's beds. I'm keen to get back to my computer, so say goodnight to each of the boys, give them each a kiss, and leave them with their amazing dad.
7.00pm
Rick finishes putting the boys down. He comes into the office and mutters something under his breath. I make out that he wishes the Thai place was open tonight. While he goes back upstairs, I decide to call our favourite takeaway place, just in case they're not closed. Sure enough, they're open! My heart (and stomach) leap for joy. I place an order for our usual: stir fry beef in oyster sauce, a large rice, and two chicken wings. I go upstairs to find Rick crashed out on our bed. I pass on the good news and encourage him to get up and join me downstairs. He changes into his jeans and then goes out to pick up our dinner. I zone out in the kitchen and mindlessly scroll through Instagram for funsies. Rick returns, and I serve up our dinner. Rick turns the television on and pours us each a glass of ginger ale. We watch half an episode of If You Are The One then decide to switch to Frasier
8.00pm
We finish our dinner while watching Frasier - The Return of Martin Crane. Afterwards, Rick clears up while I put the kettle on. We both settle down into his study: me at Rick's seat and him on the other side of the desk. He works on his vision for our church, while I begin to curate photos for The Shoemaker's Daughter - something that I've been longing to do for almost two months now.
9.00pm
I treat us both to cups of tea and an Easter egg and continue to curate photos. As I go through photos from the last few months, I'm struck by how much we've done, how much we've had, how much we've been. This family of mine, this life of mine, is so much more than I could ever have hoped for. 
10.00pm
Rick shows me a photo of the Kenyan students who have been slaughtered in their university. Numbness. That's what I feel. At half past, we decide to start getting to bed.
11.00pm
We head upstairs, shower, chat about the next day, and fall asleep around half past…
*All names changed for the sake of others' privacy.

A graphic designer by trade, Ronnie's first loves are writing, photography and memory keeping. She lives in Sydney with her husband, Rick, and four of her five little boys. You can find Ronnie over at her personal blog, The Shoemaker's Daughter, a memoir named after her mother, and she is also the main author of the official LIFE:CAPTURED Inc blog - the place where you can find anything you need relating to photography, photo archiving and organising and memory keeping in general. 

4 comments:

Thanks so much for your words of encouragement, advice and solidarity.

xo em