Two nights ago, on our evening walk, Eleanor Roosevelt and I spotted the first fireflies of the summer. Eleanor barely noticed. She continued on with her incessant sniffing of the sidewalk while I followed the path of the flying bug, hoping to see another shot of light before we made it home. The first firefly is an announcement of the arrival of summer, and that it happened in the last week of school made it even more remarkable. Eleanor was not at all excited and treated the whole monumental occasion as very everyday, as if she happens upon the first fireflies of the season nightly. I could not wait to get home and tell the girls.
When Jack and I got married, children were an understanding but not a great plan. They arrived at about the time we would have liked, as part of the natural progression of marriage. That I can recall, no one has ever said to me, without sarcasm, "why did you have children?", or if they did, I didn't have a good answer. It wasn't part of a grand scheme to leave a bit of us on the planet; we had no need to produce an heir, we have no land that needs farming nor business that needs a plan of succession. We had children because we wanted to, without one truly tangible reason, and very little planning.
Children are a great deal of work. They require me to be on my best behavior as often as I possibly can. They expect more from me than anyone ever has, and make me want to be the person that can live up to those expectations. They need me to cook their food and tell them when to go to bed, to laugh at their jokes and make sure their feet are clean. It's a commitment, one that means I skip my favorite art fair, on a beautiful sunny Chicago day, to stay home and rub the back of a feverish and crying child.
But Mary and Kate appreciate fireflies, and that's reason enough for me.