Days go by in such a blur as lunch packing and homework helping bleed into drop-off, meetings and meals. I’m not really complaining, just noting that I am holding on somedays more than I am actually steering. The relay of milestones as Briar reads, Avery tumbles and Finley does it herself makes it more challenging than ever to train my eye on thing, like the way Avery has conditioned herself to slow down and say “Th-u-ree” instead of “Fwee.”When did she take over correcting herself? When did Briar understand, “Sometimes things just happen” and begin to say it in ways that bring me to my knees? How did Fin learn to cock her head just so and get whatever she wants whenever she wants from any of us?

I remember a time when the days demanded a little bit less of me, when I could sit at the computer each night and reminisce as my fingers danced across the keys. I remember walking into the study and finding Sean softly weeping as he read my words, the seat still warm where I’d sat.

These days the words stay locked tight as I make sure I am keeping pace with the demands of kindergarten, pre-school, work and a 2 year old who resents having neither a job nor a school to attend. She and I were puttering round the house, cleaning and playing, playing and cleaning. The big girls were romping upstairs and Sean was playing guitar in the back room. It was loud. My energy was flagging and there were miles of day left before me.

All of a sudden Briar and Ave came stampeding downstairs.

Briar: “Can we have a snack?”

Ave: “Mom, can you get the kaleidoscope down?”

Me: “Yup, hang on.”

Ave: “Mom, I’m thirsty.”

Me: “What do you want to drink?”

Sean: “Hey babe, have you seen the phone?”

Fin: “Want pappu.”

Ave: “Orange juice, but not the kind from yesterday.”

Me: “What kind of pappu?”

Ave: “Not that one, I need the blue kaleidoscope.”

Me: “I think it’s in the kitchen.”

Briar: “Can I have a snack? Not puffs.”

Fin: “Pappu, pappu the kind of pappu I want.”

Me: “Briar, here’s your string cheese. Sean, here’s the phone.”

Ave: “Mom?”

Me: Here’s the blue one and some oj, the good kind. Fin, here is some cottage cheese.”

Everyone was happy and quiet until snacks were finished, then Sean was on the phone, the girls were screaming, Sean was shushing them and Fin was running around covered in curds.

Me: “Girls, please. Be quiet, Dad’s on the phone.”

Briar and Ave: “But Mom, we need to just be playing.”

Me: “When he’s off the phone it’s fine, but now you have to go upstairs.”

Briar: “Can I watch tv?”

Me: “After.”

Sean: “Shhh.”

Ave: “Can I have a snack?”

Me: “In a minute, please go upstairs until he’s done. Fin, come here, let me clean you up.”

Ave, before moping up the stairs: “Can I just have a snack?”

Fin: “K, mama. Comin’.”

Briar, as she trudged up the stairs: “Mom…”

Ave: “BRIAR!”

Sean: “I’m done.”

Briar and Avery came tearing back down the stairs.

I was completely oblivious, my ears and heart were locked in on the softly spoken words from Fin. There was no fight, no fuss, just two little paddle feet with too-large socks flapping in front shuffling their way over to me. She looked up at me through wispy curls and held her hands in the air.

She cracked a smile and said, “Ok, you clean me now and den I play wif da girls?” I nodded. “Thanks, mom. I wuv you.”

She scooted off, feet slipping on the same patch of hardwood that she always slips on. Regaining her footing she turned and looked back at me holding one hand out, “I’m ok mom, everything’s just fine.” She ran around the corner and squatted down next to her sisters.

Standing there with a cottage-cheesey wet paper towel, I watched the backs of my three little girls, hair swishing as they whispered, different but easily identifiable as sisters, sitting at their dad’s feet. Fin’s sweet compliance reminded me that despite the grueling cacophony of our days, between the clangs of deadlines and clattering of messes and pile ups, there is harmony. Sweet, curly-tressed harmony.