wasps are bastards
Christmas Eve day. A lovely day with the children, doing a little bit of shopping and cooking. For dinner I made borscht with mushroom-stuffed dumplings (barszcz with uszka – a Polish Christmas Eve first course), a basic goulash, and a winter lemon poppyseed salad; Ralph made pierogi. In a few minutes: a last course of fresh cherry pie.
My mom put the kids’ stockings together and I put hers together. We had a little set-to at her house this evening.
I’m up before the children – three, in all – and I have those few minutes after my husband leaves for work, and before anyone else joins me. I shower, and dress. No makeup but a little lipstick – hair back in a slouch cap. Dishes, and laundry, and tidying up some tailoring work as we’ll be expecting company throughout the day.
Now I wake up the children: first, my son, who is frightened over the vaccination he’s set to receive this morning. Then, the girls: my daughter and the kids’ friend C. We’ve got to hit two doctor’s appointments back-to-back. We’ll be doing that before we get a meal out together.
It’s rainy out but I have a little coffee in my Nalgene bottle, and my warm scarf. The kids are cheerful company. Phoenix is a young woman now and would no more skip a morning shower than I. Her hair is wet; her face dear freckled face snubbed with a little powder. At the doctor’s, she finds some women’s magazine – Jane or Marie Claire or something – while the other young girl finds a Highlights.
People in the office, and later running errands – so many seem so unhappy. Irritable at those minor delays that happen everywhere. At the taquería working class men look me up and down as I ferry drinks and napkins and salsa to the table. I eat slowly, checking my phone. Enjoying that first meal of the day. I eat until I’m satisfied. And now: I must get us home. Drop one child off, receive another. Put together a few Christmas gifts.
It’s cold and rainy; my car is giving me fits. Tomorrow is payday so tonight I can write a check for our dinner, and for Christmas Eve dinner. My husband is tired – as tired as I. My knees, my neck ache. My son runs through the house, first acting out every song in “Jesus Christ Superstar” (he’s still quite fixated); later, in a pair of neon green boys’ briefs that match the garish bandaid on his thigh – his vaccination site.
The rain, the curious meow of kitties needing love. Keeps me company as the house falls more and more still.Read More
We’re in a group of about thirteen people all watching a film – and next to me my son sits in his white fur cap, content as possible. I watch him as he eats popcorn and tidily drinks from a small can of Sprite soda. His elven profile tears at my heart. I am rendered entirely helpless at how much I love him, and his sister, how they are my everything life and limb and body.
Today I dug into rent money to take my children – and two others – to the movie, and then for pizza dinner. I popped popcorn and hit the drugstore candy aisle and all that stuff because I will work for it, to give them a decent memory on their Winter vacations from school. All that work to try to get us to the theater on time and watching the film I am almost entirely disinterested; I check my phone as discretely as I can. I have a special exhaustion that seems fruitless and yet serene. I just have to move my body from here to there, to wash dishes, to cook pizzas, to direct children to wash hands or get ready for bed – et cetera, et cetera.
Last night was the second night in a row my son falls asleep right next to me, where I sit – crumpled up against me, his body turns heavy and his breathing even. As much as his interests have turned to school, for now (well – kickball and P.E., really), he is still a little boy who finds comfort in his mother. Why he seems so young and his sister – so much more sedate, darkling, older than her years – seems so grown, I do not know. It’s a rather dreadful juxtaposition as I’m torn between being too-important and not-important-enough, depending on which child I behold. Both children seek out my arms often and when I hold them I’m just wrecked in so many ways.
A Christmas package in the mail: a project knit in secret. Homemade Christmas cards. Yoga, and some time to myself on the mat. Breathing out a deep “cleansing breath” and feeling my face against synthetic plastic and knowing my husband is now at home, caring for the children. Dinner will be ready when I arrive and another day will come to a close.
Day in and day out, caring for younglings, one can learn quite a bit about the Right Stuff for the Right Reasons.Read More
Today is less peachy-keen than yesterday. Still very low levels of kidney pain – most of the day, non-existent – but I am fatigued, and suffered a good deal of nausea rising in the later part of the day.
I do the best I can: rescheduling an appointment, making a few more. Laundry (a neighborhood gentleman came over and helped inspect our dryer), dishes, and food – cupcakes and chicken sandwiches for our later event. Drive to the bank to make a deposit.Thankfully, the deposit gets there before the check for rent pulls funds.
Put the house in order; light candles. Cut out three layered t-shirts; return pattern to envelope and filing system. Fold clothes and make a pot of hot, strong tea. Drive the rainy distance along the river out to pick up my children, and one other young one, at the bus stop. Put a call in to a friend.
The sandwiches, the tea party: a few visitors today, one very special. My friend E., my daughter’s best friend A. – and the kitten new to A.’s home. A kitten almost identical to our own Pip, but of a fluffier nature with a hard, round, low-slung belly.
You can see why it was pretty important we make it a real Occasion.
A. and her kitty leave a little after 8; I tidy up. It’s 9 PM – my makeup is fading; my body feels ill. My son collapsed at six PM, clothes and all, in his bed – lights on. His early bedtime somehow leaves me feeling lonely, sad and ill. The early sunset isn’t a great help, either.
I remind myself that just because I am not feeling well, does not mean those in my home are similarly afflicted. It is so important to give them all the love I can.
No matter what!Read More
The light is on in the hallway; the dryer is running, keeping my son company while we hold one another close in his bed. He twines his arms around my neck and tells me, “I wish you’d sleep with me.” I am not at all tempted, because I can only fall asleep in my own bed. But there is a pang – I love him so!
Nels tells me he will “tempt” me, and starts listing all the soothing things he can think of to put me to sleep. “A nice chicken dinner,” he whispers, referring to our evening’s repast. And now – I’m stifling laughter. His hair, his skin, his breath – so sweet. And I am sad I will be leaving his arms.
Today – I was exhausted. I was so glad to be experiencing a manageable level of pain for our matinee performance that my time onstage was simultaneously joyful – and also monstrous, because with each bar of music I remembered the night before. I came home, had a late lunch, a hot shower, and retired immediately to pajamas for some junky television.
My daughter has a dry cough that’s gone on for quite long enough: tomorrow, a doctor’s appointment. Moving around a few dollars to cover the rent check. Canceling crafting out at the child’s school – probably, unless I feel much better. Tackling the handful of bills we can’t pay this pay period.
Tonight, though: gratitude for another day, for friends who are loving, helpful, and supportive. And that I didn’t vomit onstage.
I get these little sticking points, these moments of non-acceptance. I’m cast from my place of ease and serenity, or at least my finger on the pulse of the dharma – into confusion, a small smudge of despair – rudderless. Tonight it’s in the car, as we drive to the hospital and my 12 year old daughter hears her mother praying aloud and crying, the helpless cry of abject suffering. Finally pull over at the side of the road – this is at about 9:30 PM – to vomit. Drive up to the ER and check in for pain relief. Pace and pace and breathe – finally on the bench in the lobby, rhythmic humming sounds. Placing myself in a trance to endure.
My daughter knows I won’t die, I’m only in severe pain. She gets to learn what it’s like to offer someone moral support – a loving presence. She puts her hand in mine. I tell her it means so much to me that she’s here.
These days, kidney stones pass about every three weeks. Most are a couple hours of pain – intense, distracting, maddening – but often such that I can walk about and focus on the business of others. Most times the pain eventually eases off – blessedly.
Tonight wasn’t like that. The pain started at about 2:30 and came and went, getting worse. Bringing a nausea that kept me from eating for about eight hours. At seven – right when we’re ready to take the stage for tonight’s performance – it steadily worsened. It took all I had to stay in the show to the end. The memory of getting through each bar of music, each song, each act. I was in a small, fourth-dimension place of a pain so acute the world seemed a Victorian-era vignette, unreal and distantly depersonalized.
I am home now. Exhuasted, but pain-free except for the ache in my lower back.
The hospital was kind. I am fretting about another medical bill. I haven’t yet moved off of that (futile) worry.
Still – today was, somehow, a good day. I kept a glad spirit – or I started off that way and it sustained me. And then: help, from so many quarters. A friend took me out grocery shopping. Another friend bought us our Christmas tree (!) and then delivered an oilskin envelope along with it – folded twenty dollar bills. Another friend sent me an online donation. Another friend let me help her with a home repair project. Another friend hosted my son this evening and took him out to a diner, and played video games with him besides. Another friend asked me along to her lunch. Castmates gave me hugs – castmates who aren’t particularly demonstrative.
If it weren’t for friends, if it weren’t for kindnesses large and small – my life would have little meaning.
And now, exhausted, I am back to pacing myself. Tomorrow: a matinee. I am behind on work for clients. I am tired and will need to recover further.
I can’t figure out tomorrow, today. That is for certain. I am grateful for the help and support I get. May it always remind me how worthwhile it is, to help and support others!Read More
It’s cold. Cold and windy some days; merely cold others. I dress as best I can for the morning walks with my dog and frankly I’d rather end up over-bundled than the opposite.
My dog is a fit and hardy soul; he traipses across large puddles encrusted with thick ice; these frozen lakes groan under his pressure and he takes a quick drink, then he’s trotting ahead again. I find myself enjoying the fresh air and some contemplation; small brown birds abruptly blossom into colorful flowers – slam into the tenacious blackberry shrubs at trailside. I see a fellow dogwalker now and then, but mostly it’s just the sound of the water in my ears, and my dog’s companionable tread.
They’re pulling the paper mill down, across the river. There’s a part of me that can’t believe it’s gone. I stop and really get a look – as long a look as I’m willing to take given the cold – and I think about my past, my future. I’ve lasted longer than the mill. Huh. See, I started my engineering life at that mill as an intern, after my sophomore year at college. I remember all the other engineering students and how all they’d talk was money and job prospects and the cars they’d buy.
It depressed me long before I earned the degree so maybe I was fated to let that life fall aside.
I think about when I quit engineering and the few who told me I was wasting my “good brain” by leaving a technical field.
But I’m still standing; the mill isn’t. It seems like each attempt, each vocation, each series of struggles and failures, and I’m left humble, less-than, and in a satisfied smallness.
Today I line my eyes in black eyeliner; powder, line them again. I tuck my blonde curls away up in my watch cap. I adorn myself with the one necklace I own – a cheap little affair with a black cross. And hoop earrings. I make the bed, stopping to kiss the small kitty who asks for my attention. He reclines on his back, his paws up, lazily paddling the air in his ecstasies.
I wash the dishes, and care for the animals, and sew two simple garments. I meet with a friend, and attend to my duties: picking up the children, chairing a meeting, attending pickup rehearsal.
My children are old enough to have a life of their own; this happened very swiftly, and it is taking me quite some time to get used to this. I find myself teetering on the balance beam; realizing that they have formed of themselves most of the persons they will be, and that my job is no longer so much to help them manifest, but to support them in their ever-blooming self. So when my children are well, I feel well; when they suffer, I suffer more than seems possible, and certainly more than is logical.
My daughter’s manicure, deathly deep blue – chipping. The blonde tendrils of my son’s hair, clinging to his perfect skin as he emerges from the bath, wrapped in a threadbare towel. The cozy clink here and there from the kitchen: Ralph washing the dishes. My own anticipation of a hot shower, and a hot lemon and honey to drink. And hanging the last of the clothes to dry and wiping down the counters.
And last night, when my son had so much trouble sleeping, and couldn’t settle, and cried out. And I brought him a warm milk with honey and after he drank it