back to work but i’m glad

Mornings I often get a blissful few minutes to myself. My children stay up late and thusly sleep in nicely. I have been taking baths in the morning, lately out of necessity for my sinuses (sinusi?) but even as I get better I am still enjoying the ritual: the only light that of the window and a few candles, hot, steaming water, quiet through the house (which will not be quiet again until late in the afternoon, if that).

This morning, after washing my hair and leaning back, hot towels packed around my face, my body feeling strong and elastic and no longer alien and bone-achy, I eventually hear the rustle of Nels fumbling down the hall. I’d already been to his room twice this morning as he restlessly half-slept and tossed, grumping aloud, a troubled expression clouding his angelic brow (“angelic” here referring only to perfect, flawless skin and sweet, sleep-laden features – not the actual behavior or mind within said brow). That’s just how Nels can be in the morning – grouchy (or “growksy” as Sophie still pronounces it) for no good reason although almost always feeling much better after the first bite of his morning meal (which today will be: toast, the last of Abbi’s farm eggs, oranges and kiwi, the latter Nels’ favorite fruit).

The disgruntled little soldier stumbles into the bathroom and sees I’m not providing him with a bowl of oatmeal or whatever, I am in the bath (which he loves to share), and he has to pee (which he never wants to do in the morning). Long story short, this results in: yelling (his), partial undressing (him), and finally, pissing on the floor (um, him there, yes). “Oh Nels. It’s OK,” I tell him as he cries piteously, having hosed a tidy corner of my floor. “I need to have a bath with you!”he wails (such drama!) and I pull him inside: of course, of course… I stroke him and the warm water envelops his body. He calms instantly and we float and I put my face in his damp hair and breathe.

A few minutes later Sophie comes in, hair tousled and smiling; lean, barefoot. and looking half-grown in her grownup little pajamas. Seeing us in the bath she says, “I want to get in, too.” then stops and sees the boy-puddle on the floor. “What happened?” she asks, eyes and freckles open on her face. I tell her her brother had an accident. “Oh,” she says. A pause. “Can I wipe it up?” “No, Mama can do that, it’s OK.” As she finishes her morning pee I sense, rather than see, our black cat scuttle along the hallway in some kind of cat-distress. A minute later the animal makes a crazy sound which I immediately recognize as a siren for getting the fucking cat out of the house. * Sophie is amazed: “Mama, the cat was talking!” she says, delighted (she is so amazed by “real” magic). “Yeah,” I say, “That’s not a good thing. That means she’s upset and has to go outside.” Sophie scoots out the door to take care of the cat (my children have both gotten strong and adept enough to pick the cat up and it is now one of their favorite things to do) and I get out of the bath, favoring Nels with a toy helicopter to buy time.

My daughter rejoins us in the bathroom. “The cat did something really gross on the floor,” she tells me, flatly. **

But despite a few bumps in the road this morning, I feel so much better. Last night I slept long and well, no drugs nor booze nor congested nose nor night-terrors (although, sadly, a few instances of getting up to spit blood in the sink – just a nuisance, not really much of a disruption). And today the world is washed in new colors. Steam rises from the kitchen sink with the familiar joyful energy, I see my house again and restore order. My children crawl all over me, go through my purse, shout suggestions for our day’s plans.

Thank you, universe.

* One of the best stories in our lore was my sister’s ex-John’s cat – I don’t remember the animal’s name – who literally said, “Oh no!” twice before vomiting behind a couch. I’m told there were two witnesses. John’s impersonation of it was hilarious and eerily, entirely believable.

** Blackie had, in fact, deposited a not-too-gross hairball on the floor that Sophie’s keen eye had spied immediately. And as it turned out, Sophie and Blackie had also only made it “outside” as far as the laundry room, where the cat pissed on the floor, not able to access her litter box nor the bushes. Therefore it was a total of three bodily messes, none of them mine and two of them feline, I’d already dealt with before 8:30 AM this morning.

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