Saturday, September 12, 2015

I Want to be More Like Her

This week I was making garlic chicken enchiladas and green rice for dinner. I put on an oven mitt to fetch a pan from the oven and noticed a smear of red sauce got on the thumb. The red sauce blended with the oil spot already on the mitt, with the drops of pink Something, and with the mark of brown from when I used cocoa powder instead of flour to help a birthday bundt cake not stick to the pan. There are other food stains on the fabric, too. And the thing is, it was my mom's oven mitt. And there in my hot kitchen this week I realized I'm not sure what all on there was from me, and which all was from her. Something about this made me smile.

Monday, September 7, 2015

On the First Day of Labor Day...

Here is a list for you of the things this Labor Day weekend brought to me:

-The Wizard of Oz.

-An hour drive north toward sugar-sweet corn on the cob, red popcorn kernels by the pound, spaghetti squash, softball-sized peaches, mini potatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, tomatillos, and pumpkins, oh my.

-Sally watching Curious George, cuddling her pumpkin we bought at the market, sans pants.

-Homemade ice cream.

-Elliot having a loose tooth fall out while he slept. He couldn't find it in the morning.

-Swiss Days mayhem, topped with a caramel apple.

-The heater on in the morning, air conditioner in the afternoon.

-Laughing with Louis as we bent his fingers as far back as they can go. That kid is the bendiest.

-Last place at Parcheesi.

-Spotting trees on the mountainside looking like sunflowers up there, their leaves letting go of green.

Friday, September 4, 2015

I Made a Mistake

It was a fine morning, breezy, some clouds, some sun. We were at the park. I was pushing her and her baby doll in the swing, answering every request for "Higher!" and "All the way up!" She giggled. She didn't seem to notice the hair flowing in front of her face every time the swing came back. Swinging is her.

Then it felt like a scene. It felt like I was watching from somewhere in the back row. And amid the scene's perfection, I felt the familiar sinking. Grief spilled in, as it does, and then I couldn't feel.

No, I told it. No. Don't take this moment from me. Stop giving me pain when there's joy. I'm tired.

I swallowed. I swallowed again. I forced the grief down somewhere, and blinked salt back from my eyes. "How's Baby?" I asked her. "How are you? Do you want to do something else yet?"

"Not yet, no thanks," she said back, watching the two boys who were brothers who were dropping their cars down the slide. They reminded me of my own boys, back when we lived at the house with a park right next to our back yard. I wanted my small boys. I wanted the older sister pushing her little sister in a swing. Impossible things.

I looked up at clouds through my sunglasses. I wanted to go home. Instead, we went for a walk around the playground, I made small talk with a grandmother, then we walked to the library. I ignored all the hard things in my head and checked out picture books and chapter books. I helped her with the coloring game on the computer. "I want pink next. Then brown, for the alien picture," she said.

It was all just fine. It was all fine until she got stubborn and wanted to eat lunch right there in the cafe. It was fine until she fretted and argued when I said we'd eat at home. She pulled away from me and fell down as we crossed the parking lot to go to the car. She kicked and she screamed as I held our borrowed books and pulled on her hand. I had to hold her down hard to get the carseat buckle on. We were a spectacle.

And all that pushed-down grief became anger. Once again I was viewing some play of myself from the back row. I yelled back at her, a 3-year-old. It was a quick, loud drive home. I wanted all people and things to get out of my way. We got home. I put her in her bed, shut the door, and stewed while she screamed.

I hated grief, I hated myself, and I hated that I just yelled at my little girl.

Later, much later, I kneeled in my plaid pajamas and prayed for forgiveness. I said that grief is hard for me. I prayed for understanding.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Confessions of a 3-year-old

"It's too loud," she said.

So, I raced against the sun and mowed the lawn while she stayed inside. It feels like a long time when mowing the front yard, even though it takes about 10 minutes. When I finished I hurried back around to the back door and peeked my head in to check on her. Her feet were up on the flower pillow, and her head leaned onto the cushion. She had various animals and Lego pieces positioned around. She turned and looked at me square in the eyes. She had chocolate on her mouth.

"How's it going in here, sis?" I asked.

"I was just eating the cookies."