The dining room is lit up, the murmur of their voices can be heard from almost every room in the house as they sit close, concentrating, and questioning.
They are working on homework. More specifically, math homework.
My husband's tone is even, low, and calm. He explains the process in what sounds to me like a foreign language. He is not agitated. He is not frantic. He is methodical, easy, steady. Our son looks at his dad in such an intensely focused way that I cannot help but feel like the odd man out.
And it's true. I really am.
The odd man out.
Brett explains to our children how when he is given a math problem, he sees numbers swirling in his mind.
Like, literally sees them. The numbers. They look to me, and they ask, "Mom, do you see numbers in your mind when you do a math problem?"
I resist the urge to tell them that is what calculators are for, and marrying someone better at math than yourself. I like to refer to it as my own intellectual version of "marrying up." He is also better than me at fixing things, like cars. He understands electrical systems, and wiring, and plumbing too - all of which, I am certain, have something to do with being adept in math.
I just know it.
So no, children, I do not see numbers swirling in my head when I'm trying to help you with your math homework, or when I'm trying to budget for the month, or when I'm filling my gas tank.
Although I did recognize a difference in price lately and nearly fainted when I filled my entire tank for under $50. And I do have the comprehension skills to understand that $50 is a lot less than the $80 I was paying a few months ago at least twice a month to drive half the distance . . .
But a visual of the numbers, no.
Ask me if I see words, letters, sentences, paragraphs . . .
I will tell you that everywhere I go, the people I see, the way the wind blows, the tangible shift in the air when you feel like you are caught in the moment and everything slows down, slow motion-style, like you are in a dream and you look around and feel your life - and you recognize that it is the single best gift you've ever been given and your heart swells inside your chest so ferociously you think you may just fall victim of your own happiness.
That, I know.
When I'm standing in line at the grocery store and I look around in the baskets and carts of others and wonder what they're making for dinner, if they have families to cook for, if they are lonely, if they are entertaining or bringing something to a waiting hostess at a party they are 2 hours late for, that, I know.
When I'm shopping the day after Thanksgiving (horror of all horrors!) and I overhear a woman yelling at her husband about the color of the bath towels she is holding and the man next to me shakes his head and grumbles something about that being the very reason why he is not in a relationship, and I wonder if he is happy, if he ever was happy, if he has given up on love altogether, if he was hurt, if he'll find it again, that, I know.
When I'm turning off the highway onto the familiar street that leads home, the green trees engulfing the portion of the road that has remained untouched by developers and if I, for one minute, close my eyes and let my mind wander, I can see it just the way it was twenty years ago, when I was first learning to drive, and I can remember the way it was, how it felt to drive on the road, how few cars were on it, how everything has changed so much but still, it is the same, that, I know.
Ask me to describe how motherhood has changed me, how marriage has changed me, how life has changed me, and I can tell you in thousands of words, hundreds of sentences and many, many paragraphs, that, I know.
When I look at the faces of my children, our children, that are decidedly different than they were last month, when I marvel in the them, everything they are, everything they want to be, everything they embody, the constantness that is childhood, happening everyday in our home which frustrates and flabbergasts and knocks me on my knees simultaneously as it intoxicates every breath I take with it's beauty, it's love, it's humbleness, it's innocence and it's goodness, that, I know.
But no, children, I do not see numbers.
I am your mother, and I see words.