A couple hundred dollars of things ranging from much-needed milk to gloriously colorful fruit and vegetables to one-too-many frozen items that would be what realistically made it to the dinner table this week filled my trunk. It was the “what’s nexts”, on the other hand, that filled my thoughts.
Need to shove fridge and freezer items somewhere—anywhere. Race to Big’s baseball pictures to relieve Lenny who at this very moment—which is about 15 moments beyond when I was supposed to be home—has twelve kindergarten-sized jumping beans ready to test his herding skills on an entirely different patch of grass about a half a mile down the road. Grab Pink’s unofficial cheerleader care package of questionably “healthy” snacks, waters, and wardrobe changes—for her and her dolls, of course—fuel for the two games still ahead this afternoon.
I was mere moments from springing into action when I rounded the corner to our house and saw it, smack dab in front of me.
Blue and red vinyl. Toddler limbs flying aimlessly through the air. Giggles escaping through netted walls. Four-, three-, and two-wheeled transportation decorating the driveway. Easy-smiling men sipping cold drinks. Women wearing, rocking, and growing babies.
In the colder months, when we were moving, I had sold them this moment. And I hadn’t looked back. After all, arms that launch baseballs into the sky and legs that run 8-minute miles no longer fit inside this life.
But now it took everything I had in me not to slam on the brakes and yell, “Give it back! I want it back—right now!”
Not our beloved bouncy house, really, though it had been a staple, a companion, and even a savior in our lives for so many years. No, all I wanted was to feel overwhelmed by the nothingness of a Saturday.
To be able to press a button and instantly answer the question of how we’d entertain the kids, and ourselves, for all those empty hours. To sit casually with friends who knew nothing of standardized tests, Little League playoff brackets, and summer camps. To see the clock as a friendly face, one that signals nothing more than feeding or potty time. To be surrounded by dimpled feet, wide eyes, and adorably mispronounced words.
But I didn’t stop. I couldn’t. All I could do was move forward.
As I glanced back to see the bounce house disappearing in my review mirror, my heart left that longing behind too. And later, when I arrived at the many places I had to be—no, wanted to be—that Saturday, it found its new, faster rhythm again. Yes, my heart burst as Little’s bat and toothless smile lit up the field. It skipped a beat at Pink’s “watch this” demands on the playground. And it raced faster than Big as he made it home without looking back—just in time to be declared safe.