But leading up to that was quite special, and also fun, and maybe meaningful for more family members than just me.
This afternoon, the boys and I made a sacred cave for the divine mother and child to dwell in on this the longest night of the year. Northwest Arkansas has the most perfect rocks in the world for this kind of project, and after some happy excavating and careful-for-the-toes (bare, always) placements, we had a pretty iconic cave, if I do say so myself. Then, we chose from our animal figures, some of which go back to my own childhood, attendants to the newly birthed pair. Oddly enough, Woody and I both had dreams about bears last night, so we included her, first, and the little fawn was a likely choice. But then things got crazy fun. Snails. Chameleons. Ears of corn. Fox added a couple of knights in full armor, but Woody discreetly removed them later, telling me, "I don't think Fox knows this is a no-war zone."
It was great. By the time we added Woody's warrior fairy from last year and the candle to the inside, I was fully smitten with this creche scene and vowed to repeat it until the day I die.
Next came swimming. That was unexpected, but our neighbor Gavin across the street invited us, and I knew the boys would have a blast. We picked up Daddy Honey from work and headed to the indoor pool with suits and towels and we swam until we were all pruny. Even Fox.
We started the bonfire when we got home and added the Yule log from last year, to which we had tied our wishes for the year to come. We lit the candle in the little cave and watched quietly as everything burned bright and warm.
Then, Woody and Daddy Honey started playing night sniper in the dark, Woody tripped and fell into the wheelbarrow, and he bit down through his bottom lip. He flipped out. Daddy Honey flipped out. We called Amy Leigh, my sister who is a nurse, to confirm for anxious Daddy Honey that the injury did not call for a hospital visit. (Yep. Were he alone, he would have packed that poor kid in the car and started driving for a slit the size of a baby tooth.)
A few capfuls of peroxide in water for a swish and Woody's fine, though the spell of the night was broken. Or maybe not. I know what waits for our tiny mother and child, and it's this--addled dad and injured child and doubt that any of this was a good idea. It's a cave full of dirty dishes, wet towels, dog-hair speckled toys, and new shoes that are going to have to wait until January. A little heartache. A little blood and spit. You know this story, too.
Mothers of young children take their magic in small doses--warm feet around a pretty fire, giggle-worthy malapropisms from healthy 3 year olds, somebody saving for her (or more likely, forgetting about) the last blackberry Greek yogurt. Then it's back to action--dabbing with damp washcloths, a mad dash to the post office, scooping poop from the backyard, running alongside a wobbly bike, helping a partner to find his calm again. That's good enough. In fact, that's good. And when everybody's asleep and the house is quiet and the light in the tiny cave still glows, they'll--I'll--remember that it's exactly what I was hoping this life would be like, and even if all the little wishes I wrote to send out into the Universe on the smoke of the Solstice bonfire come true, it would just make things better than best.