“We’re going to play the Pick-a-Chore game, aren’t we?” Bekah groaned as I held out several small pieces of folded paper, which, when combined, contained a clean house.
“Yes,” I smiled. “Yes we are. Go on, pick two.”
It was midmorning of our last snow day. I don’t know if it will truly be the last one of the year, but it was the last one that we had. By that day, like many families, we were experienced and surprises were hard to come by.
The night before, as the extremely familiar recorded message of our school superintendent canceled school, I announced to everyone, “Got the call. No school tomorrow.”
I waited for the cheers, but they didn’t come.
“Did you hear me?” I asked just a little louder. A mere month ago those very words had sent all three kids into whoops of yeahs.
“Yeah, Mom. We figured,” Luke non-whooped.
Not only were the kids not cheering, I wasn’t groaning. The upcoming snow day no longer felt special or dreaded. It felt normal. It just was.
That night we all got ready for bed at the normal, school day time. Snow day late nights seemed a thing of the past, too. When my heart flew awake on that last snow day, my first thought was, “Ahh, I slept in. Cool.”
Then I looked at the clock: I hadn’t even “slept in” for an hour. On principle I kept my eyes closed and pretended to sleep for 10 minutes before letting my feet hit the floor.
The boys were already up. Noah was playing a video game and Luke was watching ESPN, just like every morning.
“Hey, Mom. I made Noah breakfast already.”
“But I was going to bake cinnamon rolls for breakfast,” I sorta whined. Was I the only one clinging to snow day traditions? This felt like every morning.
My kids humored me long enough to participate in a few standards — Baked High Carb/High Sugar (Second) Breakfast, How Long Can Luke Stand on the Porch Wearing a T-Shirt Not Knowing That the Door Is Locked Video, Group Netflix Mini-Binge, and Jammie Pants All Day Dance — but I could tell that the enthusiasm was waning. The Pick-a-Chore game was my last group activity. An hour after that, the house was clean and everyone was quietly doing their own thing.
I headed off to do mine. We have been slowly transforming Noah’s room from Little Kid Sweet to Tween Hipster. On that last snow day, I put up his new curtains and took down the baby art. As I put the pictures that first hung in Bekah’s nursery, then Luke’s and finally Noah’s into a box marked, “Yard Sale,” I got a little misty.
This was last time animal paintings and nursery-rhyme themed décor would be used by my kids.
The last time.
I tried to remember other milestone lasts: When was the last diaper? When was the last night that a crying baby woke up the house? When was the last night that Noah needed a binky, or Luke needed a tuck in? The last time that anyone used a sippy cup, baby spoon or teething toy?
A lot of significant lasts were burned into my memory — last night we used the crib, last meal in a high chair, last time with training wheels — but many lasts have faded. When they happened, I didn’t know that they were the lasts. I didn’t take the time to burn them into my brain archives.
I didn’t know then that the last was going to be the last. It just, surprisingly, was.