Are we down to the wire, then? Is it really time to call it a day, chalk it all up to experience, put it out of its misery, remember the best and forget the rest?
I have what I am beginning to recognize as pre-nostalgia as I wander through my yard at sunset, trying to calculate how many jobs there are left before our property is worthy to be listed. The house has suffered the usual indignities from having been lived in by actual people, but the yard is a different creature than it was when we acquired it seven-plus years ago. I’m not saying it’s anything grand. It’s on the same life-support system that keeps the rest of our subdivision humming along. But nearly every inch of it has been replanted. By me. The same person who used to be too nervous to hack off withered branches because what if they were just playing dead and I actually murdered them with my clippers?
I’ve become someone who, unable to justify buying a new pair of shoes for three solid years, was nevertheless compelled to acquire a number of rather costly peonies to see if they would perform their magic in my yard (they did, spectacularly). More obsessively than I document my children do I take pictures of the same plant day after day, just to watch it change over the season. Yes, I am “that” woman who has a personal relationship with every tree in her yard, even the giant cottonwoods which will someday topple over and crush her house to the ground.
Please let it be after we move.
“You are sick, Isabelle,” the cold mother said,
“And you’ve thrown up every hour, on the hour;
And yet you continue to beg for some bread—
Could your breath be any more sour?”
“In my youth,” Little Bella replied to her mum,
“Way back when I was still embryonic,
You feared I would never stop sucking my thumb,
Which proved you were quite histrionic.”
“You are old,” she continued, “and between me and you
It’s plain you can’t bother to hide
The sad fact that you love it when I get the flu—
It’s shameful, and demented, and snide.”
“In my youth,” said the woman, and she smiled rather faintly,
“I imagined I’d be more maternal;
But then I had children who were bad and unsaintly—
Euphemistically speaking, you’re infernal.”
“And so,” she concluded, “it is natural that
“I’d seek such solace as availed me;
Perhaps this is cruel, but I hold tit for tat
A philosophy which has least derailed me.”
I don’t know. I’m just so tired. So very, very tired. There are so many things for which the Sprogs deserve to be punished every day, I can’t keep up. I need a fulltime personal assistant just to monitor their various infractions so that each one may be properly addressed. It’s like, they’ll go for a week without sneaking cups of sugar out of the pantry at 4:30 a.m., and I’ll think we’re making progress, but then William will draw a picture of an elephant butt taking a dump in the upper right-hand corner of his spelling test where, actually, his name and the date should be. I suspect that his teacher has adopted a strategy of ignoring this kind of jackassery, based on the fact that this came home without a note of concern from the school counselor. And what a refreshing contrast this bears to the half-dozen phone calls I got from a certain unnamed person with a BA in psychology when William, in first grade, spent a month signing all his schoolwork with the nom de guerre “Sausage.”
On the other hand, parent-teacher conferences are next week, and I have a vision of walking into the classroom only to be assailed by a very thick, three-ring binder detailing my son’s many offenses. Compiled by his teacher’s fulltime personal assistant.
I must seriously be the most self-loathing person in Idaho. Took the family to the mall after dinner because we were out of yogurt culture. That’s right, we drove to the mall to buy us some culture. I proposed that dessert should be a bonbon per person from See’s Candy. This was met with wide approval.
In the Felliniesque freak show that is our mall, I recognize that my children draw extra attention to themselves for their pure outsider-dom. Bella was wearing a long-sleeved dress with rubber boots that are now so small they make her limp. Oh, and it was 96 degrees in the shade. Callie “covered” herself in scraps of sluttiness derived from the latest bag left on our front door step by I really don’t know whom. The waistband of William’s track pants was hoisted to its usual position, two inches south of his nipples.
But then I noticed his ear:
It somehow escaped my attention that his left ear was either stung or bitten yesterday. He can’t remember the exact details. But the effect is horrific. It looks like a fistful of flesh-colored playdough, three times larger than normal and (how is this even possible?) quite a bit lower on his head.
Last week of summer, I am very much over you.
This is what happens when you have a sister with camera, a husband with a mixing board, a friend with an old barn, and a variety of nieces and nephews. Oh, and other sisters who can choreograph, costume and conduct. And brothers who can design a set. And a helluva lot of long-suffering brothers-in-law.
This is monumental. William has always been what we euphemistically call our “fastidious” child, another way of saying that, until today, he has refused to touch the dirt. It’s been inconvenient, to say the least. Last summer his chores included pulling weeds for half an hour a day, and it was indeed a marvel to observe him removing a weed from the ground without soiling his fingers (total weeds removed last summer: seven). To watch him mix dirt and water into a muddy slurry this morning was actually an emotional experience for me. And to realize that he was performing the entire operation without wearing socks (which, until two days ago, would have been unthinkable) . . . well, let’s just say it’s been a perfect day.
I spent the entire morning in William’s class where I was privileged to witness, and hardly for the first time, my son in the above posture of hopelessness. Yes, he has descended into the Slough of Despond. To be clear, he descended there about 72 hours after he was born and has enjoyed flailing about ever since. He actually brightens the place up–the other inhabitants like him a lot, and will be sorry when he leaves. Which, pray God, will be sometime in the next calendar year. If he could just pull out for a few years before he sinks into the Morass of Puberty, which comes right before the Quagmire of So-called Adulthood, which precedes the Bog of I Can’t Believe You Sold Me This Crock of Merde, which ushers in the Swamp of What the H*ll Did I Do With My Life, I would be so grateful. Isn’t that all any mother could ask?