Category Archives: Women

What I really want for Mother’s Day

What I really want for Mother’s Day:

A standing ovation every time I put all the laundry away. And while we’re at it, roses thrown at my feet every time I clean the bathroom. Which you then scurry about and pick up so I don’t have to.

Acknowledgement in the form of a shiny trophy or perhaps a gift card to the snooty fancy wine shop for being the Carrier of the Mental and Emotional Load for the family. Complete with a heartfelt speech about how stoically I carry this burden and ask for nothing in return. 

A legally binding contract, signed and notarized, that any and all sibling fights from henceforth shall occur out of my direct eyesight and earshot. 

Gasps of wonderment on a regular basis at my mastery of taking ordinary ingredients from the kitchen and transforming them into a meal, NAY! a feast! every. single. day. A feast where every dish is overflowing with love (and butter) no matter how meager the contents of my fridge. I want you so in awe at this otherworldly power of mine that you are tempted to point at me and shout “WITCH!” because how could anyone take something as simple and common as a potato and turn it into a towering mound of pure comforting flavor using merely heat (and butter) if they weren’t the bride of Satan? 

For you to bend the knee like I am Khaleesi, Mother of Ungrateful Dragons. I want you to cower in awe at my ability to rip apart my own body so that you could be freed from the captivity of the womb. I want you to gaze in reverence at my tireless efforts to then help you gain independence even though you curse me and call me a she-devil, and marvel at my self control in continuing to rule benignly and not fall into the easy trap of tyranny because you refuse to brush your teeth every morning. 

And then! Then I want you to straighten the knee so I can pull these godforsaken ballet tights up because putting on ballet tights is a life skill you refuse to learn. 

Piggybacking on that former request, I would also like a dragon. 

Or three. 

And a fur-lined cape. 

And lastly, the ability to summon from my very cells, from my very core, the pure, staggering, unconditional love I feel for you until I am so overwhelmed by the power of this deep affection that I transform into a fearsome goddess-like entity, with eyes ablaze and lightning crackling between my fingertips. And I will rise into the air, a terrifying and beautiful manifestation of pure maternal being, and in a reverberant voice I will declare “BEHOLD!” as I place my hands upon your brow so that you, for a brief moment, can see yourself as I see you. As the most perfect creature to ever grace this plane of existence despite your inability to ever pick up your socks and put them in the hamper.

What I will actually get for Mother’s Day:

A breakfast at 6:30 a.m. consisting of PopTarts and a questionable looking banana, two homemade cards with adorably misspelled words, and a macaroni necklace held together by glue that is still wet. 

What I will say:

I love it. It’s just what I wanted. 

What I will mean: 

I love it. It’s just what I wanted. 

Packing for spring break when you’re 20 vs when you’re 40

When you’re 20:

Bikini that requires extensive de-hairing techniques

Giant bottle of baby oil 

1 sundress, 2 tank tops, shorts with university logo 

Impractical wedge sandal

Makeup box that holds approximately 37 pounds of makeup

Cute purse that is big enough to hold 4 wine coolers

Toothbrush

When you’re 40:

1920’s-style swimsuit so you can do the “lazy” shave

4 kinds of sunscreen

3 giant old lady hats, because you now have a sun allergy

3 Morticia-level beach coverups because you now have to get your moles checked out twice a year by a dermatologist

Giant tub of soothing lotion for when you DO break out into your sun allergy rash even though the lotion really doesn’t do anything

Flip flops you bought 7(?) years ago

Sunglasses that cover two-thirds of your face

1 bottle of Aleve

1 bottle of Ibuprofen

1 bottle of Tylenol

Claritin for seasonal allergies

Benadryl in case the Claritin needs backup

Pepto because any sip of water that is not from your specific area code now gives you diarrhea for some reason 

Tums in case the Pepto needs back up

1 tube of that long-lasting red lipstick that you have to reapply every day because you have yet to find a makeup remover that can actually remove it

Giant purse that can hold four bottles of wine, two bottles of the medium affordable whiskey and a wide variety of snacks in case anyone gets hungry (also holds bandaids, giant tub of hand sanitizer and three sticks your 5-year-old asked you to carry for her last time you went to the park)

Extra plastic baggies because you never know when they could come in handy

Expensive electric toothbrush, regular floss, waterpiks, mouthwash, tongue scraper, dry mouth lozenges recommended by your dentist 

When that false spring hits hard

Dino Nuggets with Sprinkles

It was still dark when I opened my eyes. Which was unsurprising. It’s always dark whenever I open my eyes these days. Now is the winter of our discontent and raging insomnia, as the old saying goes.

Or something like that. 

But this dark was a different kind of dark. This wasn’t my usual infernal and endless 2 a.m. dark. I didn’t recognize this dark. This dark had a bit of, was that, no…a hint of dimness? I started to turn over in bed to look at the clock, ruthlessly crushing the hope that was struggling to rise in my chest on my way. 

6:07 

In the A.M. 

No. Impossible. 

I had slept through the night?

I looked at the clock again. 

I had slept through the night. 

I slowly sat up, careful not to disturb my husband lest his symphony of snores prematurely end before the big fart finale. I shuffled to the kitchen in my slippers. I started making the coffee, almost as though in a daze.

What is this odd feeling? 

Is this…not tired?

Is this what feeling well-rested is like?

Like waking up not wanting to punch the world in the face?

As the last of my peaceful drowsiness wore off, I realized that was indeed what I was feeling. I smiled. This is what it must feel like to be a Disney princess. Those birds singing outside? That chubby squirrel eating a stolen bagel outside my window? Any moment now they would beg to come inside so they could help me get dressed. 

Soon thereafter my kids woke up, rubbing their eyes and scratching at their bedhead. 

“Good morning, my babies!” I cheerfully bellowed.

The kids froze, confused. Who was this creature smiling an authentic smile in front of them? And what happened to the swamp witch they called Mom? 

Then, to really terrify them, I made an actual breakfast. Using the actual stove. And pots! And pans!

When the kids threw dual tantrums over being told to brush their teeth (a daily morning ritual) I did NOT scream back this time. I just gave them space to have those Big Feelings. Like one of those parents who actually read a parenting book. 

My husband made three dad jokes that morning. I laughed at all three. And pinched his butt when he walked by me to get more coffee. 

Later, we went to the library to pick up a stack of books. 

“Can we stop at a playground on the way home?” the kids asked, already bracing themselves for the obvious “no” headed their way because one, it was 28 degrees outside and two, I wasn’t wearing my out-in-public “good” sweatpants.

“Sure!” I exclaimed.

“Really!?” they exclaimed right back. 

“Really!”

We got home. I made hot cocoa. And popcorn. And let them have cookies because life is meant to be lived! 

“You’re the best mom ever!” my son yelled as he threw his arms around my waist.

“I know, right!” I happily hollered back. “Now, what do y’all want for dinner?”

“Dino nuggets?”

“Absolutely!”

“Can I have sprinkles on mine?” asked my daughter, allowing a bit of hope to slip into her voice.

“You bet your sweet redheaded tuchus you can!”

She jumped up and hugged me too. 

Oh, the person I could be if I got a good night’s sleep every night, I thought to myself as I did ALL THE VOICES during bedtime storytime. If I didn’t have to ration my energy throughout the day. If I could regulate my emotions (or even just one emotion occasionally). If my brain worked as designed instead of being held together by metaphorical duct tape and Elmer’s glue.  

Maybe it won’t always be this bad, I tell myself as I get ready for bed. These are extraordinary times, and not in the good way. But maybe it’s getting better. Maybe I can be my old self soon. 

Maybe sleep will stay this time.

Maybe every day can be like today.

I close my eyes. 

And welcome the dark. 

A Cozy Covid Christmas

Coming soon to a streaming service near you, a magical new holiday movie!

“A Cozy Covid Christmas.” 

Starring Sage Periwinkle as Holly Merriweather and Chadwick Strongjaw as Logan Bennett. Featuring Judy Greer as The Quirky Best Friend, Tom Skerritt as Someone’s Dad, and Candace Cameron Bure as the Evil High-Powered Boss.

Meet Holly. A busy and adorably neurotic interior designer living in an undefined big city. When she’s not busy walking determinedly across a crowded crosswalk, she’s busy talking on the phone while signing various documents people hold out for her, followed by busily sipping wine at a hip bar with her best friend. 

Judy Greer: “How did your date go last night?”

Holly: “Terrible. I shouldn’t have even gone. I’m so busy with my career as a successful bakery chef.” 

Judy Greer (whispering): “Interior designer.”

Holly: “Oh. Right. Anyway, I don’t have time for romance. All I care about is this upcoming Very Important Business Deal.”

Judy Greer: “Holly, you need to live a little! Let’s have more wine. Where’s that hot waiter?”

But while Holly may not think she has time for romance, 2020 has different plans. Especially once she runs into Logan Bennett, the charming but damaged hometown bachelor who dresses like a fancy lumberjack and who happens to have a positive test result. 

For reasons that are flimsy and never fully explained, these two strangers must quarantine together over the holidays in a quaint Vermont inn surrounded by picturesque snowy mountains. 

Logan: “Look, let’s just make the best of this. How about we order some food. What do you like? Sushi? Thai?”

Holly: “I guess I could go for a cheeseburger and a beer.”

Logan: “Wow.”

Holly: “What?”

Logan: “Nothing. It’s just…you’re not like other girls, are you?”

The only thing they have in common is their endearing stubbornness and apparent access to unlimited top quality hair products. But when a frozen pipe explodes, forcing them to work together until they end up soaked and laughing on the kitchen floor, they find both of their hearts starting to thaw. 

Judy Greer (via Zoom): “Listen, sweetie, if you don’t go after that hunk of a man, I will.” (sips from giant wine glass)

Holly: “How can I? My career comes first. It always has. Besides, Karen needs those proofs by Christmas Eve…”

Judy Greer: “Oh, it’s a pandemic, Holly! Take a day off, for Pete’s sake! Find you some love in the time of corona.”

Both: (laugh impeccably white toothy laughs while sipping more wine)

But it’s only when a blizzard sweeps through, knocking out the power and forcing these two star-crossed and asymptomatic would-be lovers to huddle together under a blanket surrounded by candlelight, that they truly learn no mandate can force two hearts to socially distance.

Luke…Liam?…Logan!: “It’s just, my parents divorced on Christmas Eve when I was 13 and my fiance left me at the altar at our Christmas themed wedding three years ago and I never got over my childhood dog dying on New Year’s Eve and since then it’s been hard for me to get close to anyone, especially during the holidays.” 

Holly (gently grabbing his hands): “Logan, you may not be an essential worker, but you’re essential to me.” 

Then a bunch of other melodramatic stuff happens after the quarantine ends and they have to return to the real world, all of which is sloppily tied up in the sappy ending on Christmas morning. 

Holly: “Do you think you could ever love me, even though I betrayed you to get the scoop I needed for my Big Magazine Article?”

Logan: “I thought you were an interior designer.” 

Holly: “Oh. Right. Well, do you think you could ever love me even though I’m a mess but always somehow impeccably dressed?”

Logan: “Only if you can forgive me for that sleazy, sexist bet I made with my super rich best friend when I first met you but then changed my mind about once I got to know you.”

(passionate kiss set to rising music and an absurd amount of falling snow)

This holiday season, get ready for “A Cozy Covid Christmas.” Coming to a streaming service near you. 

Probably. 

Ode to the Mystery Bruise

Oh, Mystery Bruise

There you are, yet again

And there have you always been 

For at least as long as I can remember

Which, granted, isn’t that long

Ever since my memory was obliterated by the incessant demands

Of tiny, adorable humans 

They who sprung loudly from my loins

Ginger haired and exhausting

My mind now filled to capacity 

Each and every day

With tasks both mundane and material 

That are involved when raising juveniles not quite yet delinquent

Big. Purple. With a hint of bluish tint

Ringed by an unholy yellow 

You loudly announce your presence, oh, Mystery Bruise

With every disrobement 

With every bathroom trip

There was a time when my thigh was flawless

(Stubble notwithstanding)

Oh, twas a sight, ye youthful femur o’ mine

Alas, now the top of that ham 

Is the heart and hearth of your home

Oh, Mystery Bruise 

Whenceforth you came? Why do you stay?

I have heard tale of your existence in others

On the side of the hip

Or the shinny shin shin

Enfolding the feminine forces in this world

Who already fight all kinds of unseen battles 

Every day, and every sleepless night, and every in-between

Yet your mystery grows, Mystery Bruise

Your origin a puzzle wrapped in an enigma

Smothered in a conundrum and sprinkled with mild violence  

Did it happen when a toddler used my body as a trampoline?

Or when a preschooler made of all points

Used me as their amusement park?

Are you the result of that stupid end table

I keep running into?

Or perhaps from that time I bumped into the steps while running to stop the children from hitting each other

With actual weapons? 

Is it all the bile rising up to the surface from all the curse words I swallowed?

Or from all the screams I buried down deep

Each and every time they howled how they hated me

Because the grilled cheese had the wrong cheese?

(As if any cheese any time any place could ever be wrong)

Is it the homeless ink from every lost chapter I never wrote

Because as soon as they see the laptop they lay across me like pampered cats?

Or mayhap you are just a reminder that I am human, Mystery Bruise

And not just a mother

That I am not merely put on this Earth for their every whim and desire

The point is, oh, most mystifying of contusions

You’ve always been there for me

Rarely changing

Just staring up at me every time I shower 

A constant and only slightly concerning presence in a chaos-filled world 

A reminder of some permanence in an ever shifting reality

Or maybe you are simply a visible representation

Of the bruises concealed in my heart

Your mottled surface itself an ode to the mysteries of the soul

An ever-present monument of why we love and fight so hard  

No matter the reason, nor the cause

I want to thank you, oh Mystery Bruise

For always being there

Which I believe I already mentioned

But you’ll have to forgive me, for it has been a rough week

Of Remote Schooling

Of Life

Of 2020

And of simply being stretched too thin

Which is why I am hiding in the bathtub with my computer

A little (lot) drunk and singing your praises

Because you are here and yet need nothing from me

Oh, Mystery Bruise, your silence speaks volumes  

Readin’ & Writin’ & Ah Whoopsie Daisy

This past summer, my children became obsessed with a little book series called “Captain Underpants.” It’s a bunch of illustrated children’s novels that takes potty humor to the next level. Which meant I was giggling right alongside my children because I’m really just two 6-year-old’s standing on each other’s shoulders in a fashionable trench coat pretending to be an irresponsible adult.

Oh, how cute, I’d think to myself every time I’d see my 6-year-old with his nose buried inside one of the 100-plus page books. He’s pretending to read them. Like a Big People! He even went so far as to occasionally ask me what a word was. 

“What’s this word say, Momma?”

“Diarrhea, sweetie.”

So. Adorable. Until the day I realized he was ACTUALLY reading these books. We were getting ready for our nightly storytime and I turned to chapter four, where we had left off the evening before. 

“Oh no, Momma. We’re passed that,” he said as he grabbed the book and started flipping toward the back. “We’re here.”

Here being chapter 20. 

20! 

“No, love. We only read the first three chapters last night,” I patiently replied as the wise and worldly mother than I am. Kids are so enchantingly dumb, am I right?

Then my tiny human, who was a baby only yesterday, summarized chapters four through nineteen.   

“Wait, you can really read?” I asked in a voice so incredulous that even a recently graduated kindergartner could pick up on it. 

“Yeah. Duh.”

I was floored. Then elated. Reading has always been more than a hobby to me. It is life itself. It has shaped who I am and what I do. In my humble opinion, there is nothing better than sitting down, grabbing a book and spending hours hallucinating stories on the dead souls of trees. And to think that my son is now setting forth on this same incredible journ…

AND OMG OH CRAP DAMMIT CRAP. 

My son can read. And apparently pretty well already. He’s probably going to be reading big words any day now. Big words like “butthead.” As in that one column I wrote where I called him a butthead. Or that one when I was pregnant with him and I called him a swamp demon. (And that was the nicest thing I called him during pregnancy).

He’s going to read about how I always stole his chicken nuggets when he was a toddler and then gaslighted (gaslit?) him into believing he ate them all. And he’s now going to know I don’t know the correct past tense of gaslight. 

There was the column that explains how I violated child labor laws and the one that mocks him for not learning how to crawl sooner. He’s going to know just how lazy of a mother I really am. And how much I actually drink. AND THE SECRET LOCATION OF MY EMERGENCY CHOCOLATE.

And now his sister is now in preschool. Where they will also likely teach her how to read with absolutely no regard for how it affects me.

Oof. I can picture it now. When my children realize the full implications of having a humor columnist for a mother. 

Them: What made you think you could write about us?

Me: Thirty-six hours of labor? A jacked up bladder? The fact you gave me a mystery bruise on my thigh when you were a toddler and it still hasn’t gone away?

Them: Well, did you at least make a lot of money by exploiting your children?

Me: *super awkward pause*

Them: YOU’RE NOT EVEN RICH AND FAMOUS!?

Me: I am rich…in love. Wait! No, come back. Come on. Kids? KIDS?

Not to mention that now that they know, they’re probably going to catch onto my methods pretty quickly.

*during big family fight while having Thanksgiving dinner*

“Mom! Are you taking notes right now?”

*me, peeking from behind my laptop* 

“Nooooooo…”

*while having THE TALK with them*

“MOM! Are you live tweeting this!?”

*me, peeking from behind my cell phone* 

“Noooooo…”

*dad falls off ladder & needs an ambulance*

“Mom, call 911!”

“Already on it, honey! …now listen, Sharon, did you say your name was? I’m going to need a full transcript of this call. Just want to make sure I get all the details correct later. Right, so, first of all, the sound he made, like the yell Goofy does when he falls from distant heights. You know. A-Hoo-Hoo-Hoo. Freaking hysterical!”

“MOTHER!” 

In the end, I think I’ll just explain it to them this way: No matter how much you love your children, every parent occasionally thinks and says ridiculous things about their own offspring. But only a select few of us are dumb enough to write it all down and put it on the Internet. And unfortunately, your mother is just that dumb. And while what you post on the Internet theoretically lasts forever, thus potentially ruining your lives, what if– and just hear me out here, kids– I make it up to you with a selection from my emergency chocolate collection? 

The 5 stages of house cleaning with children

 

Stage One: Optimism(-ish)

Hey kids! Come here please. …Guys? Come on, I know you hear me. …BECAUSE I SAID SO. 

Don’t make me start counting. One! TWOOO…good choice. OK, now before you start groaning, hear me out. Today we’re going to clean the house! Yay! 

(Fifteen minute pause for loud whining and fake tantrums)

Wow, those are some really good points you guys made there. I’ve totally changed my mind. Of course I’m kidding. Now start cleaning. This entire house is a disaster. But hey, we can make it fun! We’ll blast some loud music and chug coffee while we do it, alright? Fine, root beer in your case. Trust me, there is nothing better than having a clean house. You’ll see. Now who wants to hear some Tupac? Ugh. Fine. Taylor Swift. 

Stage Two: Frustration

OK, let’s start with your rooms. I want you to put any toys you don’t want anymore in this bin and put any trash or broken toys in this bin. Dirty clothes in the hamper, books on the bookshelves, toys in the toy box. Yes, I know. It does sound like a lot of work. Because you guys have not cleaned anything since the last time we did this even though I tell you to clean your rooms daily. 

Look, watch how easy it is. Take this thing. Do you want to keep this? You do? This thing I have never seen you play with? It’s your favorite toy? Oh, your favorite toy of all time? That’s interesting because I’m pretty sure it’s actually half of a plastic hanger. OK, OK, OK, fine! You can keep it. But how about we put this marker that doesn’t work anymore in the bin. Oh, it’s also your favorite toy? You named it Mr. Marker? Yeah, no, sure. You have to let me get rid of this baby rattle, though. Really!? You will? Oh, good job, kiddo, I’m proud of you…Hey, why is this empty? WHO’S BEEN TAKING TOYS OUT OF THE “TOYS TO DONATE” BIN!?

Stage Three: Bargaining (Followed By Anger)

Look, guys, if we all work together we can get this done in an hour, tops. And maybe, if you kids do a good enough job, and stop with all the complaining, we can have ice cream when we’re done? I don’t know, whatever flavor is in that ancient tub in the back of the freezer. We’ll even throw some M&M’s on top. Yes, fine, marshmallows too. Just keep cleaning. 

Wait, why are you crying? Yes, you have to get rid of it. It’s one-third of a broken Mardi Gras beaded necklace. No, you do not love it. Oh stop it, it is not your best friend. You own 189 stuffies. Make one of them your best friend, alright? 

What the…is this a freakin’ SANDWICH IN YOUR LAUNDRY BASKET? 

Stage Four: Depression (Followed By More Anger)

I just wanted a clean home. Is that too much to ask? Other moms have clean homes. Probably. 

Oh, who am I kidding? What’s even the point? It’s just going to get messy again. Life is meaningless. 

No, just because I’m laying here on your floor in the fetal position does not mean you can stop. Just step around me. Well, someday when you have your own children you can lay in their filthy, gross rooms in a puddle of your own existential crisis while they pick up one single Lego at a time at the speed of molasses. 

Wait, is that…is that all the donation toys UNDER YOUR BED!? SON OF A …

Stage Five: Acceptance of Corner Cutting

Oh, just throw it under the bed. I don’t care! Let’s just get it done. No, of course we can’t just stop. What lesson would that be teaching you? Now go shove all these broken Transformers into your closet. 

(Opens bottle of wine, take giant swig straight from bottle)

Yeah, whatever, you can keep it. Go put it on top of the old washcloth pile. It’s next to the naked Barbie pile. Behind the generic Magna-Tiles pile! And when you’re done with that shove these half eaten baby board books haphazardly into your bookshelves. Well, shove harder then. 

Yup, alright. I’m calling it. We’re done. Everyone into the kitchen for some ancient freezer-burned-flavored ice cream. 

We’ve earned it.

 

Box Spring Hot Box

It was the title that came first. It floated up from the mysterious depths of my sleep deprived brain, like a phoenix rising from the ashes of a terrible night. 

Or arose like a zombie. That wanted to eat my brain. Was eating my brain. Or something. 

I’m so tired. 

Anyway, the point is. What is the point? Oh, right. The point is I know what you’re thinking. What is up with that title? It’s a funny story actually. It was the title that came first. 

Wait, I already said that.

OK. Where was I? There I was, trapped for hours, trapped in a hell of my own making, when it came to me. 

Box Spring Hot Box.

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Heh. That’s really funny, I thought to myself. Although now that I’m writing this, it’s not quite as clever as it sounded at 3 a.m. It’s mildly amusing at best. But if I change it now then I have to rewrite the whole beginning and no one is really going to read this anyway except my mom so…moving on. 

What is a box spring hot box, you ask? Well, it started out fine. Sweet even. A tale as old as sleep. I was gently nudged out of a deep slumber by the horrifying sensation that a presence near me was breathing heavily. My eyelids fluttered open to behold an extra from Stephen King’s “Children of the Corn” staring at me. Confusingly, this tiny devil mumbled something about having a nightmare and so I resisted the urge to dropkick the creepy face long enough to wipe the sleep out of my eyes and realize the monster was my own child. 

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So I let him crawl into bed with us. Just for a minute, I said sternly, both of us knowing that I am a gigantic liar, lair, stained pajama pants on fire. 

So he hopped on up, laying on top of the covers and immediately taking up more real estate than was necessary for a 45-pound body. Meanwhile I scooched closer to my husband, who was blissfully snoring away on my other side, the covers wrapped around him like a tortilla. Meanwhile meanwhile, the dog, disturbed by all this commotion, sighed exasperatedly and scooched over as well, moving to lay at the bottom of my feet. 

It was nice at first. Cozy. For a moment I even started to think I understood why all those hippies insist the entire family sleep in the same bed. I was surrounded by love. 

And body heat. I was surrounded by all the body heat. Why was everyone giving off so much heat? Who decided 98.6 degrees is a reasonable number? It’s a ridiculous temperature for a human body. Why can’t we all be a balmy 77? 

It was hot. So bloody hot. And I was trapped under the covers. I tried squirming out but was blocked by the headboard. The dog was blocking the southern exit and there was also the irrational fear that I would get stuck midway and end up roasted to death, cooked by my very own family.  

Why didn’t I just wake one of them up, I hear you asking. Well, well, well, aren’t we just FULL of questions today. 

Sorry. I’m a bit cranky. I don’t know if you heard but I didn’t get much sleep last night. 

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Anyway, waking up either my son or husband so that I could crawl out would have been the logical thing to do. Hence the problem. You’re talking logic. Logic at an illogical time during an illogical year. And, let’s face it, with a ridiculous specimen of a woman. 

To my credit, I did briefly flirt with the idea of waking one of them up. Actually, I was so hot I downright seduced the idea of shoving them onto the floor full force just to feel fresh air on my body again. But then I looked over at my loud snoring burrito, who had been working round the clock from home for months. Stressed and exhausted. Then I turned my head to look at my very own Vitruvian Man, just splayed out in all his tiny glory, who has been struggling with a world that doesn’t make sense and nightmares of Mommy and Daddy getting sick. Even the hellhound at my feet, even if I was willing to crawl out that way, is about to turn 15. He’s been such a good boy, even though his hips hurt and we kept bringing babies home from the hospital without ever once consulting him. 

They all deserved sleep. Peaceful sleep. Or so it seemed in my muddled mind at 3 a.m. 

So I lay in my box spring hot box for the rest of the night. Alternating between analyzing my latest dream (playing basketball with Brad Pitt, where he kept making baskets by throwing the ball from behind his back all while discussing the writing of James Agee, whom I have never read) and replaying every embarrassing moment from junior high (which are numerous and still not funny to me yet). 

Then, like a rainbow after the storm, my husband grunted and farted and I knew the long night had ended. I would soon be free. He was a mere yawn and unselfconscious scratch away from being awake. 

And the point to all this is…

What is the point? There is a point. I came up with it somewhere around paragraph three. I need more coffee. Oh yes, the point is, I yelled at my kids today. For picking their noses and not cleaning their rooms like I asked. I was snippy with my husband, who made the mistake of standing there. I even had a very stern talking to with the dog who keeps aggressively shedding. 

And so the point is I wrote this to let them all know how much I love them. Even when I’m cranky and tired and yelling. Love comes out in many different and often strange ways. Ways like staying up half the night because you just want the ones you love to find as much peace as possible in this world. 

Although next time, I think I’ll just kick one of them to the floor and show them my love by getting a good night’s sleep myself. 

Impossible Girls

To my dearest daughter on the eve of your 4th birthday,

I will never forget the day you were born. Mostly because it’s hard to forget when someone slits your abdomen open and pulls a human being out of it. Then I heard your very first cry and tears welled up in my own eyes. You sounded like a dying pterodactyl. It was a screech so piercing it felt like an ice pick was stabbing my brain. And I’m not the only one. The nurses on the pediatric ward all agreed it was one of the most intense caterwauls they had ever heard. One of them actually twitched whenever you cried. 

Oh, but how perfect you were. When you were sleeping. 

It’s been an immense pleasure these past few years watching you grow up. I even had a front row seat because you were never not climbing all over me. Four years in and I’ve peed by myself twice. Then, just when I couldn’t take it anymore, you’d fall asleep on my chest and finally stay still long enough to let me smell the top of your head. Which smelled like sweat and macaroni and cheese and everything that is right with the world. 

It’s happening less and less now. The lazy afternoons listening to your soft breathing. On the plus side, you’ve taken to climbing things other than me. The unsecured bookcases. The door frames. The extremely large and heavy dresser. Which goes to show that you are a gal who won’t take no for an answer. No matter how many times your parents scream it at you. 

Then again, what else could one expect from the girl who invented a game called Fireball? If you are ever reading this in the future and are wondering how you play Fireball, I can’t help you. Four-year-old you won’t tell me. All I know is that you play it in your brother’s room and it often involves horrific crashing noises. One time you were playing it and you tore out of his room hollering “I’m going on the run!” Then you grabbed a handful of Cheerios from the table, shoved them in your mouth, and kept right on running full speed to the other side of the house. 

I’m pretty sure you won that day.

This other time you and your brother were sitting on the couch and you asked him if he wanted to play “The Floor is Lava.” He excitedly responded with “yes!” and you immediately pushed him off the couch with a spectacular bang. 

Speaking of loud noises, you have less of a pitter patter and more of a brigade of war drums. You make the grand entrance of tyrants three times your size. How something so small could make such a cacophony while dressed like a butterfly princess is an impressive achievement. So much so that I had to search for a word big enough to describe it and came across “cacophony.” 

You dance like you want everyone watching. You hug until it hurts. You sing often and loud and joyously and completely off-key. You scream “I hate you, Momma!” at least three times a day. You tell me you love me at least ten. You love books and dirt and puddles and cats and lipstick and Super Mario Bros. 

You have an annoying devotion to fairness. You want answers to all the questions. Even the hard ones. You get mad when it’s not what you want to hear.  

You are nothing like I’d thought you’d be. You’re better than anything I could have dreamed of.

You make me want to tear my hair out some days. You are utterly impossible some days. 

And thank god. 

You are growing up in an impossible world, baby girl. It is scary and unjust and exhausting and extreme. 

And an impossible world needs girls like you. Fearless, strong, loud. It needs people who love fiercely and aren’t afraid to fight. Who won’t take no for an answer. Who have war drums for feet. 

Which is why, on my worst days, the days where it all seems hopeless, I look at you and your wild, tangled hair. The dirt on your left cheek. The butterfly wings and the sword. You make me want to fight the impossible. 

You make me want to be an impossible girl too.