Six Is A Lot

Normally, I don’t write poetry. I don’t consider myself a poet at all. But I asked my students to write poems last week, so I decided I would attempt one. For this one, I time-traveled a bit back to when my children were small. And in the spirit of practicing vulnerability, I’m sharing it here.


Six Is A Lot

Six is a lot.
A lot of kids in the same cramped house.
Birthed from the same body.
Born from the same heart.

Six is a lot
Of color-coded cups and towels and toothbrushes.
The blue towel, damp on the bathroom floor,
Belongs to the same blue cup on the kitchen counter
With a quarter-inch of this morning’s milk souring in it.
That kid needs extra practice cleaning up.
Add that instruction to the mental list of things to do. Things to take care of.
After a nap.

Six is a lot.
A lot of loudness.
Laughing at the silly answers in the board game
Around the thrift store coffee table,
Faded yellow rings from some yesterday’s -or yesteryear’s- yellow lemonade glass
Marking and mapping the memories of game nights
And movie nights
And family meetings.
A lot of loudness.
Bickering about the best Barbie dolls or who has the biggest LEGO boat.
And will it float?
A lot of
Overflowing sinks and submerged, bulky boats.
No, it will not float.
Not this time.
A lot of
Drip, drip dripping water
Puddling on the bathroom tile
Sopping into the forgotten blue towel
Which grows heavier by the second.
Soon, it will squish and splash
When a potty-training toddler jumps on it in a rush.

Six is a lot
Of laundry.
Piled around hampers, strewn on bedroom floors,
Wrinkling clean in baskets waiting to be folded into wooden dresser drawers.
A lot of toys littering the living room carpet,
As if Fisher Price became an interior designer,
Painstakingly placing Little People and Weeble Wobbles
In still-life settings around the room.
A home staged for an open house of potential preschool buyers.

Six is a lot
Of bedtime stories.
Picture books carefully selected from the wobbly shelf,
Piled neatly to be read as we cuddle
And point to the pictures, finding the color green on each page,
Noticing the rhymes.
A lot
Of prayers
As we hold hands and thank God for this day.

Six is a lot
Of hugs and forehead kisses and wishes for sweet dreams.
A lot of remembering thirst in the inky darkness,
Urgent requests for water in the blue cup on the counter.
And another trip, in the glow of the nightlight, to the bathroom,
Where the soppy blue towel still lies heavy like a bolder on the tile.

Six is a lot
Of birthday banners and bright balloons.
Homemade cakes with buttercream frosting.
A lot of dinners,
Children around the table
Like pearls around a neck.
My jewels
All my wealth displayed in these people I’m raising.
My investment
Stashing every bit of love and attention and instruction into them
Like dollar bills crammed into a cigar box hidden on the top shelf of the dark closet.

Six is a lot
Of wealth weighed out on scales of love and time and joy.
A lot of mess and worry.
A lot of apologizing and forgiving.
A lot of wondering if we’re getting it right.

Six is a lot
Lined up on the church pew like tiny birds perched on an electric wire.
Walking through the grocery store, down the cereal aisle in single file.
The little lady in the sensible shoes scowls,
“You have your hands full.”

I look at my stair-step children, descending in height,
My moving staircase
Pointing to the bright boxes, asking for the sugary stuff.
And I know
My hands are full.
My heart is too.

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