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Archive for the ‘self-worth’ Category

It freezes me, this packing up of things that have belonged in my world for my entire adult life. I can only do a little at a time before the breathlessness comes over me, every muscle in my body succumbing to the shakes as if I were going through withdrawals.

“I know we’re going through ‘rough’ times right now,” I wrote in a card that I find nestled between a stack of books in the bedroom. “But no matter what, I will always love you.”

No matter what.

I tell my children this: “I will always love you. No matter what.” My son appears to accept this as fact and has never questioned exactly what he might have to do for me to not love him. My daughter is not so easily fooled.

“Will you still love me if I rob a bank?” she has asked.DSC_3026

“Yes. I’ll be disappointed, but I’ll still love you,” I reply.

“Will you still love me if I steal a car?”

“Yes. I will make you take the car back and turn yourself in to the police, but I’ll stand by you. I will still love you.”

“What if I become a vampire?” she says, “and try to drink your blood? Or a zombie, and I try to eat your brains? Will you still love me, no matter what, or will you stake me or chop me in half?”

(Honest, she has not watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer or The Walking Dead. She doesn’t need to.)

I argue that’s a more difficult question, because if she’s a vampire, then she’s a demon, and if she’s a zombie, she’s already dead…but she will have none of it.

“I’m still me. Will you still love me?”

So I tell her yes, I will always love her. I might be disappointed in some of her choices or heartbroken that I might have to stake her if she attacks me, but I will always love her. No matter what.

Or at least, I will love the ‘her’ that she once was.

I don’t tell her that, but it’s the truth at the bottom of the phrase.

“I will always love you. No matter what.”

I don’t know when I signed that card with this phrase exactly, but given what I wrote in its entirety, I can narrow down the ‘when’ to within the last five years. “No matter what” was singularly based in what I thought I could possibly do that would change things at that time. It never occurred to me that my choices and actions might not have anything to do with anything. The end was not controlled by me.

I can go on loving, if I want to, no matter what. But it doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t alter the fact that I can only control my choices, my actions–my love.

There is a new box beside the door which will go out when the kids are picked up tomorrow. It’s

SONY DSCnot a big box. But it’s full of meaning. I think. And I can’t do anymore tonight. I need to sit on the deck and let the tremors subside and the breath return. I need to watch the moon rise like it has done for my whole life, and did before I existed, and will continue to do long after I have moved on from this existence.

 

I need to know some things do stay the same.

No matter what.

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Alternate History.

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Today I woke up feeling overwhelmed.  It usually follows a night of dreams fraught with all the stuff I haven’t done or finished or even started yet.  I rarely remember such dreams other than a tangle of dark shadows and frustrated emotions.  I don’t really want to remember the specifics.  It’s enough to wake up feeling overwhelmed.

Seeing as no one else is awake, I jump in to tackle some of my “undones,” hoping to resolve the mess of anxiety roiling in my gut. As I start working on a client’s blog article, my son trails in, tears already on his cheeks because he was so tired last night he and his dad didn’t play the game he’d wanted to play.  My first reaction is to snarl in frustration: I’m not going to get anything done at this rate. But I shove that nasty part away from me, pull him to me so he’s snuggled up against my side (at 11, I wonder how much longer he’ll be willing to lean on me like this) and we talk about why he woke up ready to doom the day.

Genetics?  Environment, growing up in a house where Mom wakes up overwhelmed and, in the past, didn’t handle it so well? It doesn’t matter.  What matters is I focus on the weight of him, the sound of his breathing, his constant 11-year old fidgeting.He gets into the open notes on the laptop in my lap and we talk DNA testing methods.  Apparently comforted, he wanders off to find his dad and see if some of their aborted plans from last night can be resurrected this morning.

Before I can dive back into my work, my daughter flies in on a few thousand sentences and half of a song.  The definition of a morning person, she rarely wakes up on a tide of anxiety or distraught emotions.  Those come later in the day, usually when she stops moving long enough to think about all the things she wants, longs for, dreams of, can’t have. But in the morning…she wakes up as if the day started awhile

 ago and the rest of us are slow to catch-up.

She wants to go to a park. She wants breakfast. She wants to watch TV. Did I notice the sun is out? She wants to know the plan for the day. She doesn’t want to do anything. She wants to play with the dogs. Can she eat the last donut in the box or will her brother get mad?

I stare at my notes, the blank page for my article. I think about the garden that needs weeding, the bookshelves that need moving, the family room that I’ve started priming for paint, the grocery shopping I need to do, the ribs I need to get cooking, the 100 pages of my novel I need to print so I can ready the package for Interested Agent #3….

My heart beats faster and my chest constricts.  It’s not even nine a.m.

My daughter is whirling around the house, dashing from her room to the kitchen, chasing the dogs, singing a song…the sun is shining. She is full of life and zest and…I breathe, focus on the sound of her voice, the memory of my son leaning into my side.

Life could end tomorrow. Would it be any better a life if all my “jobs” were closed out, completed?

I shut my laptop and breathe.

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I miss my grandparents the most during the holidays.

 

My maternal grandparents were never physically present during the holidays: they lived in England and, so far as I know, never visited over the holidays. I do remember seeing the Illuminations at least once: I was bundled up in a hat and coat, my grandpa was driving, and the lights swirled over me like a fantasy. Given that the Illuminations switch on late August or early September and run for 60 days, it’s doubtful we were there any later than early September, and it’s even more doubtful I was wearing a winter coat and hat.  But that memory is bundled up with my ideas of Christmas: to me, the lights were magic, and until I was 12 (yes, 12), Christmas was magical.

(To my siblings and parents–if you read this–I am fully aware I am probably jumbling several different visits. I don’t care. Don’t call/email/FB/text/twitter me to correct me.  Let me have this….)

 

Grandma in the 50's

My paternal grandfather died before I was born, but my paternal grandmother was a fixture at holiday dinners. Every year, she would announce that year was to be her last year on this Earth, and then, as if to make that prediction certain, she would smoke a pack and a half of cigarettes before the day was out.  I loved her, though, and as I got older, I even came to like her for reasons all my own. The last time I saw her was at the office supply store where she was doing administrative work some six months before she died. Grandma had always been petite, but somehow as I got older she got smaller, even though in truth we were the same size. She was wearing a beret-type hat she had knitted herself. She made all my mittens for me growing up. I don’t know why I didn’t keep them.

My maternal grandfather had died in between the time Grandma and I had last seen each other, and she offered her sympathies.Then she said, “I envy him. I wish I could let go. I really do.” I understood this not to be a moment of suicidal longing or depression so much as an honest admission of weariness.  She was in her seventies, not in good health, and she’d survived so many more Christmases and Thanksgivings then she’d ever expected to. She had at least two grandchildren, and I think she’d given up hoping I would gift her with another one soon (“What are you waiting for?” she asked me once. “To grow up,” I said. “You already are,” she said with a cigarette-smokers laugh. “You’re just afraid to accept it.”).

I hugged her that day, wrapping my arms around her thin body, told her that she would know when the time was right.

That following December, she died while I was in L.A. I knew before I was told. I don’t know how. I just did. I almost called my parents while I was still there, but there was no point: I wasn’t going to cut my trip short. It was Grandma’s time, and she knew that better than anyone.

I don’t remember when my Nana died. She was one of the most influential people in my life, but I cannot remember when she died. When my grandfather died, I had just come out of the shower, and I almost didn’t answer  the phone but I felt I should. I had a pink towel wrapped around my hair and my blue robe on. The sun was out.  I hung up and cried on the floor.

But my Nana–I have no clue. I remember needing to go to the ocean. We drove up to Whidbey Island the next weekend and I walked along the

 

Grandpa and Nana in the 40's

beach for a long time. I always figured she would linger with me for awhile, like other family members have. But maybe she didn’t need to stick around: she had introduced me to Agatha Christie and Barbara Vine, P.D. James and and Minette Walters. I still have all the books she bought me. My son has just started reading my worn-to-tatters Agatha Christies. Not for nothing were all the books she sent me female authors: she completely believed in my writing goals. Almost every Christmas brought a package of books along with a hand-knitted sweater. I wore the sweaters even past the point when I was well aware I looked like a dork.

I was OK with being a dork.

Today, my grandparents’ influences on me run through my blood, shape my thoughts, echo in my heart. But I still miss them. Especially today.

 

Grandpa and Nana in the 90's

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It’s been awhile, I know but here’s the deal: I’ve been writing a novel. A real, fiction, murder-type mystery novel. I even have a “contact” on the local police force, and a lawyer friend who helps me with stuff. To be perfectly honest, I started this thing over ten years ago, when I was struck with what would be a scene from the book while visiting a friend from high school. In an instant a character was talking in my head. Nothing new, really–I’ve got people talking in my head all the time. The difference was, she wouldn’t go away.

Before we go on, a disclaimer: I am not insane. Really! I have a therapist, and he assures me I’m not insane. Creative, he says, and “tuned to a different rhythm,” (whatever the heck that means), but definitely not insane.

I immediately went home and started writing. Although I knew, even then, that it was a novel-length thing, the idea of writing a novel terrified me. So, I tried really, really hard to squish my voice’s story into a short.

It didn’t work. I’ve spent the last eleven years alternately working on it, tearing it up, starting over, etc. etc. all while having babies and trying to manage a household.

Not to mention the whole husband-wife relationship in there.

Turns out, writing a book is haaarrrrdddddd. Especially when I’m supposed to be nurturing and naturing two kids, a husband, three cats, a dog, a gecko and fish, too.

For me, it’s what I think jumping off a cliff must be like. My brother sent me photos of him doing this very thing when he was in the Air Force. Of course, there was ocean or a big lake below him, but still. The idea of diving off a cliff, of giving up complete control of your body, of giving over complete faith that you will land safely without crushing your spine or smashing your head on a rock…..for a long time, every time I started this book, I thought of his photos and tried to jump. It didn’t work. I just couldn’t take that leap, give up control of my life and the lives of those around me, give myself up to a faith that it would all be OK.

That I would be OK. Even if all I did was to prove myself NOT to be a writer, after all.

For the last year, I’ve been making steady progress, with the help of a good friend who made me give her weekly reports. I missed my first self-imposed deadline, and I will miss my second coming up here in three days. But I’m OK with that. I’m making progress: I have 178 pages and am 200 words short of 100,000. I know what I’m doing–well, more then when I started–and better yet, where I’m going.

Even though I have been writing steadily for a year and four months, it took me an entire year before I actually found the courage and strength to jump off that cliff. But once I did….it is like nothing I have ever experienced, including (shhh) seeing my children for the first time. It’s not that I like writing over them. The two cannot be compared. All I know is…if I have the chance, the opportunity to write another novel, whether anyone ever reads that one or this one, I will take it. I can’t imagine giving this up anymore then I can imagine giving up my children.

Of course, in the process of taking that leap, chaos has, as I suspected it would, ensued. All for the better, I think (at least, that’s what I’m going with).

My children have become remarkably self-sufficient. My son gets most of his own snacks, and usually helps my daughter get hers, during the times I set aside for writing. They have also become used to my “Ummmm…….I forgot to take the dinner out of the freezer. Who’s up for Breakfast-for-Dinner/McDonald’s/Forage Night?” To their credit, they are good sports and happy to play along, although my son does has started asking me “What’s for dinner…..in three days?” to help “remind” me. They have also been good sports about the whole grocery shopping thing, since I often choose not to do it when I can be writing, instead.

My daughter’s response to finding out we are out of yogurt again (one of her main food groups) is a cheery, “That’s all right, Mommy! We’ll get some probably before I’m old.”

Probably…..

My husband, also, has been a remarkably good sport, learning the nuances in my voice or facial expressions that tell him I am not in the mood to be a wife–in any way–that evening because
I have words in my head that need to get out.

I figure I must be doing a good job of balancing all that because otherwise he’d be complaining, or having dates with call girls or something. And I’m almost 100% certain he’s not.

To be honest, I’m not sure I would care, right now. There was a time when I was driving this project. That time has passed, and this project is driving me.

It’s 2:32 a.m. right now. I finished working on the novel half an hour ago. My fingers ache, and my eyes are crusty with sleep-longing. And yet, my brain isn’t done. In the background of this blog, it’s going on and on about the next step, the next twist and turn….

It might totally suck. I might totally suck. But I’m beyond caring. It’s not for anyone else, anymore. I jumped off the cliff awhile ago. I will hit ground by March, if not before. And I’m already planning my next leap.

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Lately, I’ve been wondering exactly how working mothers handle the whole time management and the guilt thing. I’ve been observing a friend who has a full time, stressful job at a high-tech company. She runs several committees on the elementary school PTSA. She’s creating the website for her son’s Cub Scout troop, and she–and her husband–have both gotten to our kids’ elementary school early the last few months so as to help out with the shortage of crossing guards (we are a walking school).

And yet, I am pretty sure she’s not neglecting her kids. They are both well-mannered, polite, good kids who don’t appear to be the monsters that kids can be if they aren’t getting the necessary attention. I’ve been at her house to work on PTSA stuff with her, and her youngest son is apparently perfectly aware that she is “working.” He did sit in the room with us and work on his puzzle, but he didn’t constantly demand her attention. He didn’t attempt to sabotage her meeting with me because she wasn’t giving him all her focus. It was obvious to me that she had drawn a line in the sand, and he respected it.

I have a difficult time doing this. Especially, it seems, with my daughter.

In terms of solitary play, my son has always been independent. True, he would cling to my leg like a terrified monkey whenever we went to friends’ houses or the drop-in play at the kiddie gym, and he cried whenever I dropped him off at preschool for the entire first year (he was known as The Howler). But at home, he liked to play with me for a bit, and then he’d wander off and be fine on his own. For the last few years, since his sister has been able to actually play, he is happy to play with her for awhile, but then he’s done.

His sister is another story. Perhaps it’s because she’s the opposite of him, and she wants someone to play with all the time. She gets sad and mopes if she thinks she’s not the center of attention. She gets excited about going to school, and she wants to have playdates every single day, and sometimes twice a day. She loves birthday parties and people and interaction. She needs to be entertained, and she has a tendency to get very mad when no one will help her achieve that goal.

I also know I have not pushed her to be independent nearly as much as I pushed my son. If nothing else, he had to grow up when she came along. I was also very concerned about his lack of social skills, and I worked hard to help him feel comfortable being independent.

With her….I’ve started to push, on several things, several times…and then I let it go. “This is it,” I think. “She’s the last one.”

Not thoughts I ever expected would influence my hard-headed logical self. But my children have found pieces of me I never knew existed.

So, it is my daughter who, last week on Veteran’s Day, when we were all home and it was raining heavy like it does at this time of year, demanded my attention even after I spent all morning with them. Who cried and stamped her feet and sang her favorite litany (“Mommy doesn’t love me, Mommy doesn’t love me!”) from behind her bedroom door while she threw her stuffed animals at the door. And it is because of those same demands why I am sometimes rushing to get my homework done or put together the my son’s PTSA newspaper which I voluntarily edit, or even call a friend.

That same day, I had to call the president of the PTSA. It was all quiet at her house, and I remarked on this, wondering what she did with her kids on this rainy holiday. “Oh,” she said, “we did our thing this morning, and now they’re listening to their music on the computer and I’m doing my thing.”

I was impressed and amazed and in awe. Imagine that: they did their thing together, then they did their own thing, apart. Not forever, just for a few hours. That was when I understood that the thing between me and my daughter could be fixed. Should be fixed.

I emailed the same friend and asked her for advice. She basically said she wants to talk to me about it in person–it’s easier to explain and find out from me what’s going on. But I’d already been thinking, and talking to my husband, and I already understood the difference: I didn’t see any time as “my” time. When the kids were home, all time is “their” time.

The problem with that is twofold: 1)even if I had nothing else to do, ever, there is only so long I can play Star Wars guys, which includes doing a full range of voices for Clone Troopers, SuperBattle Droids and Darth Vader, and 2)I do have other things to do. Even taking away the PTSA work and my Facebook “work” and writing “work” and the whole talking-to-my-friends “work,” I still need to come up with meals. Sometimes I need to pay bills, make phone calls to doctors and speech therapists and teachers, make travel arrangements, carpool arrangements, birthday party arrangements. Sometimes I even need to clean another room besides the kitchen (OK, that’s so at the bottom of my list, but it would probably be good for the kids to see me clean just for kicks, and not because people are coming over).

And sometimes, the kids just need to play by themselves or with each other, and give us a break from being with each other.

But I feel like such a bad mom when my daughter looks at me with her big hazel eyes and holds my hand and tells me she loves me and really, really, really needs me to play Pet Doctor with her (this is before she has the temper tantrum if I say no).

And why do I feel like a bad mom? Here’s the deep thinking realization part: because I don’t really value anything else I do except be a mom. Nothing else I do seems as important, or as worthwhile, or as worthy. And, technically, it’s probably not. Editing the PTSA newsletter is not worth losing my kids. Writing poems and stories that so far, continue to just get rejected from every magazine on the face of the planet is not worth giving up time with my kids. Updating my profile on Facebook is definitely not as worthy as playing Star Wars guys for a bazillion hours with my daughter (judging by the happiness she gets out of it, that is).

The problem is, all of these things are things I enjoy. They make me happy. They make me feel connected. They make me feel successful.

Raising children is the most difficult job in the universe. If you are successful, you don’t necessarily know it until someone else tells you, or until your kid is 40 and says, “Thanks, Mom, for teaching me all that you did.” And then, if you’re 80, like I will be, will you really care? Will you even be able to hear them, much less recognize them? One can only hope, but the point is, raising children, you don’t get a pay raise every year for doing a great job. You don’t get bonuses. You don’t get awards or community recognition or people wanting you to speak all over the world because you are so damn good at what you do (that’s my husband).

A lot of the time, you get other people criticizing your methods. You get advice from strangers on the street. You get “looks” on the playground and in the airport. You get isolation from people your own age.

Sure, you get the “I need a magic kiss, Mommy, to make the owie better.” You get the “No, YOU have to put me to bed.” You get the “I miss you so much in school, Mommy,” and the “Look what I made you, Mommy!” You get the love, and the love is definitely far better then all of that stuff mentioned above. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less hard, on a day to day basis, when you give all day long and just want one hour to yourself to send people Pieces of Flair on Facebook or write a story that no one else wants to read but your husband.

It doesn’t mean that what relaxes you, what makes you feel centered and whole, is any less worthy then talking like Darth Vader to the delight of a little girl.

Today, after talking to my friend some more and talking to myself a lot more, I tried something new. I took the kids to the park for two hours. We walked down the hill; I even brought the wagon, at my daughter’s urging, although I was very firm in letting her know I would pull her down in it, but she would have to walk on her own going up (we have the heaviest wagon in the world). I pushed them on the tire swing for half an hour, at least. We walked over to McDonald’s and took food back to the park for a late fall picnic. We played on the tire swing until my shoulders ached. We played football. We played hide and seek. We started to play hide and seek freeze tag, but my daughter was sagging, and she got really mad for some reason or another.

I did not get on my cell phone. I did not keep looking at my watch, until the very end when Daughter was obviously worn out. I did not go to the bathroom for a very long time or find a really good hiding place (like my car) where it took them a long time to find me. I did not even use the fat lip my son gave me when his elbow slammed into my face on the tire swing as a reason to sit down. I did not suggest we go home until they were very, very ready to go home.

And when we arrived home, I told them very simply, very nicely, but very firmly, “It’s time for you to play by yourself or with each other and it’s time for me to do some work.”

My son, who would have done this anyway, said, “OK. Sounds great!”

But my daughter….she was the one I was worried about. She is the reason I’ve thought about doing this before, but have never really done it because, can I say this? I am sometimes afraid of her. Strangers have noted she is a “spitfire,” “firecracker,” and “headstrong.” They have no idea. I have been described as the same, my whole life (my mother just laughs when she sees us together), and yet I feel like she has bested me a thousand times over. The worst part is, I know she knows her…passion…makes me choose my words carefully. Today, on account of talking to myself in my head the whole time we were at the park, I was not afraid of her. I didn’t consider all the negative reactions she could have. I didn’t ask. I didn’t really wait around for her to give me her opinion. I kept moving, mentally, so to speak. Once I said it, it was a done deal.

She looked at me for a long moment, and I could tell she was trying to find the cracks in my armor. I must have appeared whole, because she just said, “OK. But you’ll play with me in a little while?”

“Of course,” I said.

“OK,” she said. “Hey, Brother, you wanna’ play with me?”

It could, of course, have been an exceptional day. I could have spent so much time with them they were honestly tired of me. The McDonald’s could have acted as an unspoken bribe.

Or I could have figured out that, if I feel my time is worthy, my kids will, too.

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As I write this, I’m in the library with all of my worldly possessions at my feet. Or at least my cell phone, keys and credit cards. In today’s world, one could make a go of it for awhile with one high limit credit card, and since I have at least two on me, I figure I could stick it out for at least a week.

Do you think a week would be long enough for my children to mature beyond their ages and STOP WHINING?

Probably not, but a mom can dream. The last few days, I’ve felt that my dream of a light at the end of the whiny kid tunnel is all that’s kept me sane and relatively patient.

In truth, my kids are amazing. They are fantastic. They are both smart and funny and silly and beautiful. Never in my wildest imaginings did I imagine I’d be blessed with kids like these. Most of the time, I don’t want anything to change. I want my daughter to run into our room and climb into bed with us in the middle of the night, wiggling in between me and my husband, slipping her little legs through my own, wrapping her warm arms around me and pulling me close for always and forever. I want to watch Jurassic Park with my son over and over so his laughter at the lawyer’s attempt to hide from the TRex in the bathroom will resonate within my heart for eternity. I want time to stop so they will stay eight and four forever, and since I felt that way when they were each newborns, and again when they were each one, and two and every day in between, I know I will always feel that way, even when they are fifty-five and telling me I can no longer drive.

Most of the time, I know I live my life better because of them, and with them, and for them.

Most of the time.

Then there are the days when I want to run screaming from my house. “Mommy can’t hear you,” I tell them, when the yelling and the whining and the crying and the fighting becomes overwhelming. “She’s going to Aruba.”

Of course, I’m not really going to Aruba. I’ve never been to Aruba, and to be honest it’s not even on my List of Places to See Before I Die. I’ve been to Hawaii, several times, and I figure Aruba, Hawaii–they’re both probably very similar, what with all the sand and the water and the sun. I’d tell the kids I’m going to Hawaii, except the kids have been to Hawaii with me. Just the very mention of Hawaii would stimulate my daughter’s Hawaiian memories, and her monologues have been known to last for hours.

For some reason, telling the kids I’m going to Aruba shocks them out of whatever crabby state they are in. Usually, it stimulates pure, deep laughter from my son, who never ceases to find it hysterical that he could actually drive his mother to a point where she has to run away in her imagination. My daughter loves the word: “ARUBA.” She often begins to make up words that rhyme with Aruba, which only pushes my son’s laughter beyond hysteria (try it: Aruba, Gabluba, Jofluja), which in turns makes me laugh.

There are a few times, though, when even “going to Aruba” doesn’t work.

Today would be one of those times.

Today, I was prompted to run away for real after a very long week of my eight year old acting like a cranky two year old, my daughter’s constant whining (and not just the usual kid whininess–but whining like she thought she was part of those old SNL skits with Wendy Whiner and her family. That skit used to annoy me even before I had kids), and a cloying clinginess on the part of both of them that was odd even for my daughter, who tends to be demanding on the best days.

It doesn’t help that the temperature out here hasn’t risen about fifty in many weeks. I’m still wearing my Uggs and my winter sweaters, and when we see the sun during brief moments of the day, none of us are sure it’s not a hallucination. On top of all this, due to an abnormally busy schedule, I was constantly running from the house to the car to wherever, back and forth all day long. One morning, my daughter and I came home for fifteen minutes before we had to leave again. I don’t even know why we went home. It was more out of some obsessive need to be home, if only for a few moments.

Now that I’ve written it all down, I understand why I bolted out of the house this morning after my son began yet another more-appropriate-for-a-two-year-old emotional outburst during a game.

“I’m going out,” I told my husband, “and I don’t know when I’ll be back.”

“I’ve got it,” he said. “Take your time.”

He is the best husband and father ever, and it’s times like these I wish I would remember when he forgets to do something.

In my head, I was going to Aruba for real this time. I could drive to the airport, I thought, and buy a ticket on the next plane out. Sure, I didn’t have clothes, but I could get a job at a resort or a bar or a fishing boat. I could work and earn money for clothes and food. It would be nice to see the sun, and all that work and not very much money for food would be better than the treadmill five days a week.

I thought about it while I worked out at the gym. I thought about it while I shopped for despeartely needed jeans. I thought about it when, having nowhere to go but no really wanting to go home just yet, I drove here, the library, where I hauled out my computer and surfed EOnline. There would definitely be sun in Aruba, I thought, and it would be nice to have a job where my expectations, duties, and lunch breaks were clear.

But I would miss my kids. I would miss my daughter’s face when I pick her up from preschool. I would miss my son’s flying leaps onto me when I was least expecting it. I would miss the four of us, me and the kids and my husband, driving for hotdogs on Saturdays, singing silly songs and making jokes about porta-potties (singularly the most hilarious idea according to my kids).

I would even miss the tears and the tantrums and the fears and frustrations, because without all of that, none of the joy would give me that sweet, heady sense of success. Serving drinks to drunken, sunburned Aruban tourists would definitely be easier. But none of those tourists would bring me a handwritten letter that said, “I still miss you at skool. But I am funding waas to handel it.” None of those tourists would say, “I need to tell you a secret. You’re the best friend ever!”

I would miss being a mother.

That said, it’s time to go home.

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