The good thing about the time change is that it’s no longer pitch black at 7 in the morning when I get up. The bad thing is how unbelievably long the evenings seem now — they start around 4:30 and they just go on and on and on, don’t they? But in the morning I’m happy for the grey light filling the bedroom. JB comes in to kiss me goodbye, and he heads out to tackle his 90-minute commute. Dylan’s been awake since JB first stirred, and he’s usually vibrating with excitement in the hallway, waiting for someone else to join him. Riley comes bumbling out of his room, yawning hugely and clutching his ratty blue blanket. The cat leaps from her favorite sleeping spot next to my pillow and rushes to her food dish. Everyone’s up.

Riley props his head with one hand as he annihilates a giant bowl of Frosted Mini-Wheats, talking through mouthfuls about his two favorite subjects, Calvin & Hobbes and Pacific Rim. Dylan periodically interrupts to ask things like, If Gipsy Danger fighted Optimus Prime, who would win? (Me: Um. Well it would probably depend on … hang on, let me get some coffee.) I clear dishes and assemble Riley’s lunch: peanut butter and jelly sandwich, almonds and pretzels, grapes. At 8:15, we pile in the car and head to school. I ask the same thing every day: “Do you have your coat and your lunch?” Riley also asks the same thing every day: “Are we going to be late?”

“Have we EVER been late, Riley?” I say. “Well, have I ever forgotten my lunch?” he counters.


We snake our way through the dropoff line and shout goodbyes to Riley as he joins the throngs of kids waiting for the bell. “Love you!” he yells back, and vigorously hitches his backpack onto his shoulders. It’s such a big-kid move.

Dylan and I drive home, as he points out the various landmarks we pass: the Dari Mart cow head. The tree with the flaming autumn leaves, almost bare now. The giant weird Ducks football mascot statue that holds a Heisman stance in the back of an always-parked truck. We get home and he collapses with a happy sigh in front of the TV for his morning dose of Curious George. “Waffle?” he inquires sweetly. “Of course,” I say grandly, because in this house waffles will always be a snack, so say we all.

I sit at my “office” (AKA, the desk in the corner of our living room) and tackle my writing deadlines while Dylan watches a few cartoons, then moves on to drawing and playing. When I can come up for air, I make him an early lunch (usually a cheese quesadilla, which he eats carefully from triangle point to the last half-inch of tortilla space. “I don’t like the crusts,” he says. “But there are no crusts,” I say, pointing out that the wide edge of the tortilla is exactly like the rest: toasted and filled with delicious gooey cheese. “I guess I just don’t like the dilla part,” he tells me, shrugging) and we sit down to play Old Maid or surf cute animal photos on the iPad.

At 11:55, we wait outside for his bus. His driver always greets him with sincere enthusiasm — “Hi, Dylan!!” — and he climbs on with a huge smile. From our front walkway, I wave and wave, and he blows kisses through his window.

For the next few hours, my priorities are: lunch, exercise, errands, remaining writing deadlines. Two days a week I go to the gym and work out with a trainer, other days I plug in a DVD and hop around the living room. I try to book appointments during this window, or hit the grocery store. My favorite days are when I have nothing scheduled and I can just work in peace, because oh, the experience of writing in an empty house. Luxurious.

At 3:30 (2:30 on Wednesdays), I drive to their stop, where I sit in my car and idly poke at my phone until the forever-late bus arrives. Three kids tumble out and I stand watch in the road to make sure no one’s creamed by a distracted driver as they race to my car and beg to ride in the hatchback area. “Can we, can we?” they ask, and sometimes I say no of course not that’s not safe and sometimes I say what the hell, get in. Then I drive slowly but crazily, veering back and forth across our road as they roll around in the back and giggle. My tires brush the edges of the huge leaf piles that line our street waiting for pickup, like ever-growing slaloms made of wet Raisin Bran.

Mary’s mom picks her up, and my boys beg for afternoon cartoons. They watch old-school Looney Tunes and it never fails to make me feel a faint tugging across time. “La da di da da da di da hocus pocusssss,” Bugs Bunny sings, and I can do the next part by heart: “Abracadabra …”

If it’s Monday, I help Riley with his homework. Otherwise, they play until they inevitably get too obnoxious, at which point they’re told they can build, draw, read, or clean. (No one ever chooses clean.) They assemble robots with Legos and pester me to print things for them to color. Riley flops on the couch with a dog-eared Calvin & Hobbes book, Dylan secretly ferrets out the forbidden exercise ball and hurls it around quietly. They whisper-fight and snicker, they make increasingly loud pew pew pew sounds, they forget their keep-calm edict and run around shouting as I sigh and look at the clock and will the numbers to move forward just a tiny bit.

I bark “I WILL GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO DO” and they scatter.

Between the kids’ pickiness and JB’s schedule I don’t typically aim for a sit-down family dinner. The boys eat on stools that are scootched up against the kitchen counter, and I chat with them while I cook the adults’ meal. After JB gets home, we settle in for the evening, and that can drag on this time of year. What to do when it’s wet and dark outside and everyone’s feeling restless? We play Connect Four, we watch GoPro videos, we play animal charades, we bake cookies. JB and I try not to look at our phones.

8 PM finally rolls into view, and the boys are sent off to put on their pajamas and brush their teeth. Afterwards, I grumpily wipe spilled fluoride rinse off half the surfaces in the bathroom and if anyone’s peed on the toilet base they’re sent in with a bottle of Method (because seriously, so fucking over that). We split up to read books: something like Magic Treehouse for Riley, and Bob Staake for Dylan.

Hugs and goodnights go like this with Riley:

“I love you times a thousand,” I say. “I love you times a million,” he says. “I love you times a billion jillion,” I say. “I love you times infinity so I WIN!!!” he crows.

With Dylan:

“Don’t let the bedbugs bite,” I tell him. “And if they do ….” “HIT ‘EM WITH A SHOE!” he yells. As I close the door, his tiny voice: “I love you so much I win!”

JB and I collapse on the couches and find a show to watch together. I make my current favorite late-night treat: a mug of warmed-up almond milk with one Splenda, a ton of cinnamon, and a splash of vanilla creamer. (It tastes like hot tapioca pudding. I know, that sounds disgusting, but it’s so good.) We chat and relax and the house is quiet and warm, the boys tucked into their blankets with their eyelashes curling perfectly over their cheeks.

Like a deep contented exhale, the night winds to an end.


59 Responses to “A typical day (in November of 2013)”

  1. Courtney on November 6th, 2013 6:42 pm

    Perfection. Pure perfection.

  2. Penne on November 6th, 2013 7:10 pm

    What a perfect and lovely time capsule you’ve just given your boys, their kids and beyond. I am SO happy that you’ve been in my inbox so regularly lately. Please don’t take that as pressure to perform…just a thank you. I love your words.

  3. Jo on November 6th, 2013 7:48 pm

    I second Penne’s comments. Wonderfully written and it’s neat to be ‘hearing’ from you :)

  4. Kim on November 6th, 2013 8:13 pm

    Beautiful, as always. I love hearing how imperfectly perfect other moms’ days are. Your sounds very similar to mine, and that makes me feel cool.

  5. Katherine on November 6th, 2013 8:42 pm

    This sounds divine. It makes me want to quit my job (which is ludicrous, since I’ve worked 12 years to get here, and I’m the only source of income), but it makes me want to quit and have long days where I play games with my boys and do things by myself. Instead, our days are crammed into the hours of 5 and 9 pm. This is very beautiful.

  6. sooboo on November 6th, 2013 8:56 pm

    I love your writing so much. What a beautiful life you are giving those boys and how openly loving they are in return. Stealing that mock dessert idea. Sounds a lot more satisfying than fruit.

  7. Kerilyn on November 6th, 2013 9:05 pm

    For a stay at home mom who is struggling a tad, feeling a bit trapped in the day to day routine and wondering where my own identity went….this helped so much to read this. Your writing properly reminded me of all the good that goes along with being a stay at home mom. Thanks for that.

  8. Angella on November 6th, 2013 9:34 pm

    I should have texted you this forever ago, but I’m so glad you’re posting regularly again. :)

  9. Alex on November 6th, 2013 10:08 pm

    This was wonderful to read. Funny, though, that I picture it at your old house.

  10. aphrodite on November 6th, 2013 11:16 pm

    This really moved me. Thanks, Linda!

  11. kelly on November 7th, 2013 1:11 am

    Sounds like a lovely rhythm to your days…

  12. Sarah on November 7th, 2013 1:38 am

    This is are so talented.
    I’ve never written ours down and I wish I had. I barely remember it some days.

  13. Jo on November 7th, 2013 1:52 am

    It’s 8:50am here in Edinburgh and I have a long, busy day ahead of me. After reading this beautiful post I can face the day calm and relaxed. Wonderful writing.

  14. NancyJ on November 7th, 2013 4:18 am

    I love the description of your day! So much reminds me of when my son was young. Quesadillas were a big part of our household and I seem to recall eating the “crusts” left on his plate!

  15. Kim on November 7th, 2013 4:40 am

    Posts like these are what attracted me to blogs; the peek into the small but somehow fascinating details of others’ lives. What a treat to read with my coffee this morning.

  16. Maria on November 7th, 2013 5:15 am

    Wow a lot of this is so familiar.

    Both my kids do the same thing with quesadillas too.

  17. Suki on November 7th, 2013 6:48 am

    I have read SO MANY “day in the life of” posts, and this is the first one that has ever touched me. And it snuck up on me! I started out all casual, and then a few paragraphs in, I’m struck (again) by how lovely your writing is, and by the end, you have me feeling sentimental for both your family and my family. Your writing and love for your family are both so clearly authentic.

  18. Andrea on November 7th, 2013 7:02 am

    I just imagined the start of this day as playing itself out and finishing exactly the way you so beautifully narrated things for you on your coast. I am on the east coast, home with a child who I am just waiting to have more explosive diarrhea. (See? My narratives can be quite illustrative and visceral, too.)

  19. Jeanette on November 7th, 2013 7:28 am

    Sounds like heaven.

  20. Katharine on November 7th, 2013 7:33 am

    I agree with everyone else’s comments about what a lovely post this is, but Optimus Prime would win, DUH.

  21. H on November 7th, 2013 7:38 am

    This is beautiful. (Also, the almond milk treat sounds very good. I’m going to try it!)

  22. Melissa on November 7th, 2013 8:14 am

    Sigh….that was beautful. I think my lifes probably a little like that too and maybe I need to poke my head up out of the trenches just a bit and realize that. Thanks Linda.

  23. Kristen on November 7th, 2013 8:46 am

    I’m not a crier and that made me cry. It was so beautiful and real. I love it.

    I also love that you’ve been writing here more. At the end of the day, I’m sure writing even more seems like a terrible punishment, but I’m so happy that you are doing it!

  24. Liz on November 7th, 2013 8:51 am

    I have a 17 month old boy and another boy due in March. This gives me a glimpse into my future and I must say, I CAN’T WAIT!! It sounds lovely.

  25. Wendi on November 7th, 2013 9:34 am

    Oh, this was lovely — I felt like I was right there with you. My kids are 23 and 19 now, and I miss days like this (although I never thought I’d say that back then).

    I always enjoy your writing, Linda! :)

  26. C on November 7th, 2013 9:50 am

    Really lovely writing. Just beautifully *real*.

  27. Nicole on November 7th, 2013 10:42 am

    You’re so talented. I didn’t want it to end!

  28. ag on November 7th, 2013 11:34 am

    I feel connected to all parents after reading this. Thank you.

  29. Anna on November 7th, 2013 12:03 pm

    You are such a wonderfully talented writer and I’m so thankful you share your words with us.

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  31. Ellen on November 7th, 2013 12:15 pm

    Beautifully written! Reminds me when my 3 kids were younger and the first 2 were in school and I was home with my youngest. Enjoy these years with your young sons. Time flies and as they say “the days are long, but the years go fast”.

  32. Samantha on November 7th, 2013 3:44 pm

    Linda, you’re living the dream. Living. The. Dream!!

  33. Emily on November 7th, 2013 4:29 pm

    LOVE this!

  34. simon on November 7th, 2013 6:04 pm

    “Um. Well it would probably depend on … hang on, let me get some coffee.”


  35. Cathy c on November 7th, 2013 6:43 pm

    Great post, Linda.

  36. agirlandaboy on November 7th, 2013 11:00 pm

    You’re my favorite and, independent of that, also the best.

  37. Lucy on November 8th, 2013 6:07 am

    I’m sure I’m not the only one who read this and thought they’d like to be like you. You are a wonderful mum and a talented, thoughtful, humourous lady. The last paragraph and sentence made me cry.

  38. Eve on November 8th, 2013 12:03 pm

    Thank you for this. Loved reading it.

  39. Shawna on November 8th, 2013 12:09 pm

    So funny you mentioned the waffles, because that’s instantly what sprang to my mind when I read the Frosted Mini-Wheats reference. (Uh oh, I hope no one springs up finger-wagging about the cereal like they did about the WAFFLES.)

    I still tell people about the ridiculous comments you got on the waffle bit.

    Also, your kids’ school allows both peanuts and nuts through the doors? Lucky!

  40. Victoria on November 8th, 2013 10:16 pm

    Damn, you can write.

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    I loved reading this. Especially the part about letting the kids roll around in the hatchback. I do that with my kids too. As soon as we pull into our neighborhood, the 7 yo gets her 2 yo sister out of her car seat and they, along with their 5 yo brother, hop into the way back. I drive slow, jerk right then left. Slam on the brakes. They squeal and laugh. I hope it’s a great memory for them. I know it will be for me.

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