On Other Fridays.

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Every Friday*, I change all the sheets in the house. Every *other* Friday we do this. The boys stand with open arms and expectant faces as I hoist a quilt, made by Jake’s mom long before there were grandsons to snuggle under it, over the second floor railing. It falls with a thud, right on top of Silas, and the laughter has started. The boys work together to spread it out and they wiggle down into the smush of it, ready. Even Quill knows what’s about to happen and he rolls along the edges, not quite ready to commit to the thrill of being in the center of the target.

I make trips to each of their rooms, stripping the beds down to the mattress and then over the railing it all goes. Piece by piece, burying them in the last two weeks of sleep. A crib sheet worn down to silky soft nothingness after three boys worth of use, pillowcase after pillowcase, two quilts lovingly made by my pal April over at Jaybird and Ro, the fuzzy gray blanket that was my couch blanket until Eli claimed he needed it so he could get a “hug from Mama all night long”, another quilt made by Grandma Bambi, a duvet cover, all the sheets off of Sissy’s unused bed because why not, the fluffy white comforter that only comes out when it’s bitter cold, and, because I’m still trying to apologize through actions for my distance over the last few weeks, I haul all the sheets and blankets from Mama and Daddy’s bed up the flight of stairs so they can have one last round of this thing we do every other Friday.

While they roll and tunnel and bury each other, I can vacuum the upstairs in peace.

On this Other Friday, I have time to think.

It’s a struggle to keep my thoughts from going too deep. To keep from over analyzing and worrying. Mole hills go to mountains under the white noise haze of vacuuming.

This Other Friday thing won’t (can’t) happen on the bus. Such a silly thing to worry over, but this is house only magic. They lay on their backs and squeal and shriek with the anticipation and delight of watching fitted sheets balloon and plummet. In their eyes, it’s considered great luck if you are the winner of a face full of dirty sheets. I know that when I come down, I’ll find them beyond cozy, wrapped in the snuggly, family-scented tradition of this Other Friday.

I have too much time to think. I vacuum baseboards and fan blades. No ceiling fans on a bus. Such a southern staple. Can I even sleep without the whirl of a fan? Can they? The air here turns thick and heavy without a ceiling fan…how does it feel everywhere else? A floor fan just isn’t the same. Wonder what the power load is for a floor fan anyway? Too much for solar? Maybe I need to get those little clip on fans for the boys’ bunks. Mentally add it to my Amazon list. Sigh when I know I’ll never remember, and then physically add it to my Amazon list...vacuum still going, sucking air and electricity of its own.

I have time to find all the things the boys have squirreled away over the last two weeks. All the things they insisted on taking to bed are unearthed and contemplated. I stealthily switch out bedtime books for my own sanity’s sake. What won’t I mind reading over and over until the next Other Friday? (Dr. Seuss is very close to being banned around here just for mental health reasons**.) How many books can I fit on the bus? How many times will I have to read *those* limited number of books before someone comes to cart me away? Will they have space for their treasures in the bus? What will they collect along the way?

All the things we are giving up…will we gain enough to fill in those spaces?

The majority of the time, this is a “well, duh, yes” gut answer, but then there are things like our Other Friday fun that makes me pause.

I pull out fresh sheets and remake all the beds, minus the blankets that, from the sound of it, are being used to make brother burritos as they wrap and roll each other across the floor. Can I make brotherhood stronger? How much togetherness is too much? Will they look back on their time on the bus as the best or the worst of their childhoods?

Finally I'm done. This is as clean as it's going to get up here. It's time to slowly dismantle their fun, washer load by washer load, but first...I think I'll be convinced to haul everything back up the stairs one last time.

This kind of Other Friday house magic won't last forever.

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* I have to give a scoff/sigh combo to the fact that I started changing sheets on Fridays in anticipation of getting to laze about in bed on Saturday mornings until noon, and that's especially nice in clean sheets. Or at least I think it's nice...seeing as I haven't done it since sometime in 2011. 😐

** Is anyone else creeped out by the Cat in the Hat? Umm, yes your mother *would* mind. Stop letting strangers into the house and keep your things to yourself, thanks.