Playoff games that start at ten p.m. should be against some cosmic life rule. With just under five hours of sleep, I woke this morning groggy, but managed to drag myself out of bed without playing my usual game of just how long can I stay buried under the covers before getting up. I’ve turned my heat back on, a disappointment after the warmth of last week, and getting out of the shower is dismal, cold, and like winter has landed again.
I hate winter.
Frozen waffles in the toaster, lunches packed. It’s Monday and I tell the kids, “I’m off to the salt mines…” when my stepfather arrives to get them on the bus.
There was a gray day in seventh grade – surely more than one – but there was a day that was gray and it sticks in my head that day. I was walking from the band room to my next class, PE. Down a small cement hill. From behind a hand grabbed a hank of my hair and pulled. And then she reached around and hit me, smacking my cheek with her hand.
She thought I was someone else.
Have you ever accidentally been hit in the face? Because someone thought you were someone else that they were pissed off with?
I was thinking of it today, that accidental assault. I’ve forgotten the girl’s name. I held on to it for so long, her name, that the fact that I no longer remember the girl who was so angry at someone that she swung without confirmation, her name is gone. Wiped free from my brain. It’s a relief to me that I may one day forget cruelty and unkindness and bullying in its nonsensical, lacking-in-reason ways.
I hope it doesn’t take me twenty years to forget every unkindness.
There are two basic rules to life.
Rule #1: Don’t be a jerk.
Rule #2: See rule #1.
This afternoon I was crazed, trying to get from work to the gas station. From the gas station to the house. From the house to the gymnastics studio. From the gymnastics studio to the school for an orientation. I didn’t leave enough time for myself and it seemed like little obstacles kept inserting them in my path. The slowed, then stopped, line of vehicles on the highway. The call from The Princess that she forgot a snack, was feeling light headed. The meltdown from Pumpkin, how she wished she had a snack. How The Princess was then too ill to stay at the gym, how I ended up taking her with me. An orientation, an hour spent in uncomfortable plastic chairs listening to what to expect when my child moves on to sixth grade – a presentation tailored for our fifth graders and not their parents. Me, clicking my phone to check the time. I’m watching the clock a lot these days.
A quick dash to the grocery store – a frozen pizza, a half gallon of skim milk, children’s ibuprofen and peanut butter because peanut butter makes my world go round.
Home to a child too ill to eat pizza, tears, bona fide tears over a pizza.
I am not used to those who do not wish well for others and those who wish so desperately for someone to fail, hoping to catch their blunder and then flaunt the imperfection, or worse, to see imperfection where there is not. It shakes my confidence, this feeling of being examined under a magnifying glass, because always if you are looking for flaws you’ll see them whether they exist or not. The reflection of my thighs in a mirror and I can attest to that.
A child wrapped in fleece on the couch, eyes heavy, HGTV blaring in the background, the room dim. The other waiting for me to tuck her in for the third time. Good night, sweet children. Mom loves you.
A video on YouTube that made me cry. And cry. And cry. And cry until I didn’t know if I was crying about the video or the day. My head finding its calm with the distance from the chaos, with its distance from the hate and the negativity – with distance my brain hears reason. This is what you must do… And so I do. I look for solutions, and I wipe tears with the sleeve of my sweatshirt.