The children's bedtime has been a mad chaotic scramble of mishaps; a list of chores still stretches out in front of me; and tomorrow it'll all start again. But, for now, the children are finally in bed and, even with everything I still have to do before I can head the same way myself, I can feel myself calming. The knots are unwinding, as they always do, in the end.
Barry comes into the kitchen as I stuff Jamie's filthy sleeping bag into the washing machine, and we exchange the little back-and-forths and jokes and anecdotes that mean little to anyone else, the thousand tiny bindings of a marriage.
"You were right about this sleeping bag needing washing. Good job you noticed it!"
"Did you try smelling it, then?"
"Not deliberately. The smell just sort of wafted up to me."
"I took the big one in for Jamie to use. He said 'It's very big!' But he seemed pleased with it."
"I could hear you laughing up there with Katie."
"Yes, she was trying to stand up in her sleeping bag. Then she told me, 'I'm NOT tiruhhhhhhhh….'" Barry imitates dissolving into a yawn mid-word.
"Hey, do you know what she said when she was at my mother's? She was playing on those rocking toys, the horse and the reindeer, and she asked me which one I thought she should ride on next, and I said the horse looked good but maybe she'd better ride on the reindeer as well so that it didn't get lonely. And she said 'No, Mummy. Horses and reindeers can get lonely if there's no-one else there, bu t pretend ones are OK.'"
We share chuckles and 'awwwww's.
"Good grief! I can still smell that sleeping bag."
"Well, I've just taken the bag out of the compost bin to take out. Maybe that's what you're smelling."
"Ah, could be. Well, that's good. For a moment I was wondering if it was so smelly I could smell it through the washing machine door." We laugh again as I unlock the back door to step outside with the compost bag.
I could just leave the bag outside the back door for Barry to take down to the composting box later, but I like the walk down the garden in the evening peace. It's a long summer evening, the cloud-blotched sky still almost light even after all the delay getting the children to bed. We live on top of a hill, and beyond the garden fence I can see the town spread out in front of me, the lights just starting to come on. And I take a few minutes, as I always do, to breathe the evening air and let the calmness soak into my soul. This is all right, this life here. This is good.
(This post was written for the Writing Workshop, for the theme 'Contentment'.)