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Last summer, I blogged about my sweet children driving me insane.  We spend a lot of time together, and a year ago, I didn’t even have work to separate us.

I remember that feeling of, “OMG CAN I READ TWO PAGES OF MY BOOK WITHOUT YOU NEEDING SOMETHING?”  But I also remember taking deep breaths and, for the most part, keeping my swearing only to myself because I knew someday it would change.

Someday, they would have lives.

That day has arrived.

This summer, my son is teaching himself Latin, in addition to continuing his own Japanese IMG_7939language studies.  He spends a lot of time translating Japanese poems and Latin books he finds online.  Starting in a week, he’s working at the UW a couple days a week helping Japanese students.  He’s heavily involved in BloodBourne and Dark Souls , and he’s also watching a lot of Japanese anime, with and without the captions, as part of his Japanese self-studies.  He speaks a lot of Japanese to me, and I either reply in stilted German or bad Spanish.  Not that I know what he’s saying.  But then he doesn’t know what I’m saying, either, so we usually end up laughing.

He walks about 20 miles a week, and he comes out of karate rolling on laughter about inside jokes that he happily tells me, and sometimes I even laugh, but I’m removed from it all.  We used to walk together, and he would tell me all his story ideas and goals for the future.

He used to cry if I left the dojo before his practice was over.

IMG_7953Meanwhile, my daughter has discovered a social life and social media.  She texts her friend travelling in Italy and takes solo bike rides around town. She makes music videos on an app called Music.ally, which is pronounced musically, not Music Ally, OMG.  The music videos are complete with outfit changes, scene changes, sound and video mixing, and sometimes, the dogs’ participations (not necessarily willingly).  I’m horrible at memorizing lyrics. I tend to make up my own.  My daughter remembers everything after hearing it once, and she wants to “help” me learn the real words. But it’s rapid fire, and I am left behind, like I was for years when I would have sworn it was “Amber rain” and not “I’m all right.”

She goes into her room and talks to her friends or stays up until 1 am reading or makes music videos or creates amazing animals out of clay while listening to Rachel Patten, who is her most favorite singer ever.

She still tells me everything she and her friends do together, or what they texted or said and shows me her videos and theirs.  She talks to me about her books in depth and lets me read them and asks me questions that are echoes of questions I have asked her about books down through the years.

Bu she closes her bedroom door when she goes into her room to do anything.

This summer, I am find myself longing for still moment when we can all just sit in the same room for more than 30 minutes.  I find myself wanting to hang out with them and listen to their silly jokes about sex and “out of the mouths of babes” reactions to news, politics, life.

They still annoy me with their lack of understanding for how to put toilet paper on the toilet paper roll or take the garbage bag out of the garbag can before it is so full, it literally explodes when I try to take it out.  They still need me to buy food for them, apparnently, because several independent expeditions I have sent them on have resulted in a lot of not-what-I-asked-for. And they still need me to be there for them when they need me, and tell them everything is going to be OK when they don’t think it is.

They don’t like it when I’m gone too much in one day or too many times in one week.  They miss me when I take a weekend.  They talk to me all the time, and we spend a lot of time together, still, especially given that they are 16 and almost-13.

But.

Last summer, I was still parenting children.

This summer, I would say I am more of a mentor–much loved, I know this– to two amazing people.

And, I hesitate to say this because of all the “DON’T BE YOUR CHILDRENS’ FRIEND” articles out there, but…they are my friends.  Young friends, still.  I still need my own friends, and always will. I still get to make them do things and I have no problem calling them on their stuff.

But…I like them.  As people, as kids…the toilet paper and garbage bag issues aside….I like them.

 

I will be honored if, someday, they choose to call me their friend in return.

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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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Today, I discovered that my Chapter Thirteen was actually Chapter Nineteen. Aside from the literal number issue, this is a big difference in terms of story arc. For me, it’s a wonderful big difference: I’m in the process of editing what I consider the “middle” of the book, where a few key pieces of information come to light and also a couple of key plot points evolve. And I was trying not to be horrified and shocked and anxious because the “middle” was not happening in the middle.

Then I discovered my counting error, and the heavens opened and the angels sang.

Briefly, because then I realized that the END was coming up…soon! And I could no longer delay it by playing around with my overall “big picture” arc on the excuse that my middle wasn’t in the middle.

I want to put this book to bed more than anything, and yet I am terrified of what comes after even more than anything.

What in the hell will I do when this book is done?

Don’t tell me to relax. I’m not good at that.

Sure, I have two more book ideas hanging out in my head: one I’ve already written half of, and the other I have an outline for. But I’m not going to be able to go to either of them right away. I’m going to mourn, for a bit of time. This book and the characters in it have been part of my every waking thought–and often dreaming thought, too–for several years now. I’m tired of them, and I want to be done with them, but I will miss them, too.

They’re like my best friends, if me and my best friends went vacationing in a teeny tiny cabin far out in the middle of nowhere and got snowed in for several years.

It’s not even about the time it will take to hear from any agents I’ve submitted to. After years of submitting short stories and poetry and not hearing from editors for up to a year, waiting doesn’t bother me. I just tuck all of that away and pretend it’s not happening, kind of like how I don’t see the dirt on the living room rug when I don’t want to. But thinking about the days when my imaginary best-ies are gone from my daily rituals is both a relief and yawning wide open with quiet desperation.

A good friend of mine, who is the president of the PTSA at our kids’ school, assured me she could find stuff for me to do, if necessary.

I’m glad I have something to fall back on.

For now, I’m off to continue muddling through the middle while not thinking about what comes after.

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I know, I know–I cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die promised to start writing more frequently once the kiddos were back in school.  That was August 27, I think, when I made that promise. And here it is, four days short of a full two months later, and….yeah. I haven’t blogged since then.  At least, not unless you can read my mind, because in my head, I’ve been blogging a lot. Of course, in my head I am also a hip-hop dancer, rapper, amazing marathon runner, competitive hanglider, 1940s detective, Pulitzer prize winning photographer, and last but not least, a fabulous cook.

If you ARE in my head, more power to you, because it’s really busy in there.

In the real world, I’ve been very busy, too, and NOT just with daydreaming about all of the above. This time I have several honest-to-goodness legitimate reasons why I haven’t blogged.

1. I’ve been working on this new blog site. D’ya’ like it? It’s still a work in progress. My end-goal is to have separate blogs–one to track my writing life and one for my so-called parenting blog. From the feedback you all have given me, there are definitely two groups out there: one which wants to hear more about what I’m writing, how I’m writing, when it will be available, and excerpts of what I’m working on, and the other group who could care less about my writing and wants me to blog more about life with kids. I can do both–I just need to get there. I also have my own domain name now (marketing, marketing), and just as soon as I remember to ask my IT guy (my husband) to help me, I’ll be porting all my former posts INTO this blog and changing the domain name to a simpler one (so you can remember and tell friends!). It’s really just a matter of getting the tehnical stuff down.

2. I’ve been writing. Monday through Friday, 9-3 for the most part, with exception of Wednesdays when I stop at 145 because the kids have Early Release, I’m WORKING.  And actually making progress.  It’s quite amazing what one can accomplish writing five hours a day (I do stop for food sometimes, and there are a few daydreams in there–I won’t lie).

Am I done yet? Not quite. But I can totally see the light at the end of the tunnel, and provided there are not natural disasters, I am very certain I will be D.O.N.E. by Thanksgiving, and submitting to agents by December 1.  

I’ve had a few setbacks, like several days lost to a really bad bout of food poisoning. And one day given up to help my son’s class tie dye tshirts as part of a morale booster/teamwork kind of thing (it sounds nuts, but it was actually a lot of fun, and I like getting to know all the players in his world). Then there was most of this last week, where I spent trying to write one damn chapter, trying to ignore the fact that I couldn’t write it and trying to write around it, and then, last night, while I was reading Magic TreeHouse #656 (that’s not really the number, but there are so many, and I lose track) to my daughter and simultaneously paying attention to my son in his karate lesson, the angels sang and I realized I didn’t need this chapter at all.

Another more accomplished writer might have figured this out in an hour instead of over a period of several days. But there you go–now you know why it’s taking me so long (well, one reason; reasons two, three and four are ages 7, 10 1/2 and 45). I do feel OK about my subsequent time-suck of self-pity after I realized I wasted a week trying to write something I didn’t need: I have it on good authority from other writers–some of whom are more accomplished–that we writers often sink into time-sucks of self-pity for the smallest reasons. And, to my credit, my bout with self-pity this time around only lasted half a day, and I didn’t even need to resort to alcohol or cake to feel better.

I won’t make any more promises to write more consistently. I will try my bestest best, as my daughter says. But I’ll be honest: you can help me out, if you really want to hear from me.

Leave comments, message me, Facebook me, Tweet me (@savagewriter01)….tell me you want to hear from me.

I’m may not be the greatest with promises, but I can honor reminders and requests.

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Where Am I?

A friend asked me this question today….it’s a good question, to which I feel I should have a good answer: a date, a deadline, a sure-fire reply with facts and figures to back me up. But I don’t. If there’s anything I’ve learned while writing my first book, it’s that writing is a lot like parenting: you start out with a great idea–let’s have kids!–but the ideas themselves take over pretty much within a week or two of having life–just like kids.

For me, writing a book is like peeling an onion layer by layer and finding a peach pit in the center so you have to take a look at all the layers and figure out where you went wrong. Or making a quilt, patch by patch, but the design for the quilt shifts when you’re not looking. Pieces add themselves; others disappear.

Maybe it’ll get easier the more books I write. Maybe.

For now, I do have a complete manuscript, but I won’t call it “whole.” I do have goals: get it whole, get it out to agents by year’s end. And in between being a mommy and a wife and a friend and a human being who needs to sleep (apparently) and eat (probably not quite so much) and laugh (definitely), I am working.

I will finish this book. I will. I finally know where I’m going, I can feel it. But my biggest, most important goal? That my kids will not suffer for my ambition.

I’ve never managed to finish a book before, much less found the confidence to attend a writer’s conference and actually pitch my project to agents and editors. All of the patience, the confidence, the “openness” I needed to get this far–I owe to my kids and my husband. They have taught me to stop, look and listen. To accept constructive criticism (hey, if I can be told five days out of seven that dinner looks “gross like cow farts” and still eat it with a smile on my face, I can listen to you completely pick apart my writing with a smile on my face) and most of all, to believe in myself.

My kids and my husband are my biggest fans–of me as a mom, and of me as a writer. They’re not star-struck, wide-eyed easy fans–they don’t always buy what I’m selling–but even when they don’t like my decisions as mother, or where I’m going in a story, they hear something in what I’m saying or doing or reading that I only thought I heard myself before.

For them, my success is not even a matter of belief: it’s a matter of knowing.

So, for them, I will not wear myself out so that I can’t go canoeing with them, or have the energy to play Polly Pockets with my daughter or listen to my son tell me his latest ideas for his own stories. I will try to the best of my ability to put dinner on the table at least five nights a week–although that isn’t exactly a strength, even without the writing interfering. I will blog more consistently when they return to school and, for the first time in eleven years I am home alone all day, and I will be able to work on the book consistently.

Until then, during then, I do the best I can.

Where am I? Still here: being a mom and a wife and a friend, laughing, writing when I can, balancing, living. I might take longer to get wherever I’m going then some, but I’ll get there. I always get where I’m going.

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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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Hello, my name is Elena, and I am a FB addict. I just can’t help myself: when I should be doing other things, fulfilling other commitments, I just need my FB. I decide to go in for a quick look, a tiny peek, and then I get tangled up in statuses and profile pictures and applications that tell me what Starbuck drink I am. I lose time to saving the planet by sending people pretend flowers. I burn breakfast accepting friend requests and tagging people on my “Notes About Me” page. When a friend recently apologized for not accepting my friend request because he had been so busy, I wondered what on earth could he have been doing? It had been TWO WEEKS! I can barely stay away from Facebook for two days.

A year ago, I had no Facebook in my life. Was I happy? Was I content? Did I have enough friends? Yes, yes, and definitely yes. True, I felt very isolated some days. Being a stay-at-home mom is not the life of luxury I imagined as a kid. With newborns and babies, time is one long moment during which you might not speak to anyone else even close to your age for several days. Toddlers are a bit easier: you have a little more energy, and you start to take the kids places and meet friends for coffee…but then you decide, when your child presents you with a wilted dandelion after a very long week of Terrible Two temper tantrums, that it’s time to have another baby. And you’re back to Square One.

Since my eldest entered preschool, I’ve felt my days are bits and pieces, snips of comings and goings and clock-watching to make sure he was picked up even while making sure my daughter didn’t nap too long or miss her meals .

Now that my eldest is in elementary school, and my youngest is in preschool, some days I spend almost the entire day in the car, running back and forth, shopping for groceries in between dropping one off or picking another up, squeezing dentist appointments in between soccer practice or pony class.

Yes: now I do have time to have lunch with friends, or get to the gym or just sit and read, if I ignore the rug that needs vacuuming. Of course, doing any of that (even the vacuuming) means I also need to ignore the itch at the back of my neck that tells me I need to work on my writing projects every day.

So, am I really so bored that I need to give up fifteen minutes to the writing “25 Things About Me,” or five minutes to finding out what song I am?

Not so much.

But here’s the thing: I’m having the best time doing all of that, and an even better time having all my friends in one place. I always wanted to live in a place where I and my family and all my friends and their families—old, new, liberal, conservative, Lattes or Skinny Mochas—could co-exist happily. Sounds like a Peter, Paul and Mary song, I know. But that was my dream, and look! Here we are: in my own little cyberspace town, having a common bond, at the very least.

It’s not as if I’m choosing my kids over FB. Yes, I’ve burned their breakfast a few times because I was checking statuses, but the truth is I’ve been burning bacon for years without Facebook’s help. Bacon takes awhile to cook, and I get…distracted. Sometimes I even forget I am cooking bacon and start to take a shower (that only happened once, and I was tired that day).

My point is, my Facebook addiction isn’t hurting anyone. It helps me feel connected, it gives me somewhere to go for a few minutes when it’s difficult to get out, and I REALLY need to talk to someone who isn’t asking me where their book is or what do I have to eat THIS week. Some would argue it’s a one-sided conversation on Facebook. I see it as a conversation with a time lag.

No, I have to say: this is a much, much, much better addiction then when I was addicted to carb-free ice cream (and just so you know? Even though it’s carb-free, you can’t eat a giant bowl of it every night and not put on weight, or not have crying jags the next day from the artificial sugar giving you insomnia and mood swings).

So, never mind. I take it back. My name is Elena, and I am proud to be a Facebook-er.

Welcome to my little town.

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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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