Sophia was doing so well after preschool pickup until she chucked a shoe at my head. We have a strict "no throwing things in the car" rule, punishment being that whatever you threw, you lose. Once she lost a new jar of Play-Doh, some little party favor, and BOY was there crying then. Evidently the lesson didn't stick because some nice Salvation Army box is about to get a pair of red sparkly shoes. Maybe. I don't know. I'm kind of waffling on returning them next month or something.
Anyway, that was followed by some illicit front-door-unlocking, baby-releasing action, and every defiant thing a four-year-old can dream up. I installed a hook-and-eye lock up high on the door and left Sophia banished to her room for the next twenty minutes, for both our safety. Not before I turned into Scary Yelling Mama, though.
We worked it out from dinner on into bedtime, had some lovely chats and singing, and I told her (I was yelling this before, but I said it nicely this time) that I was always going to be her mama no matter what, and I love you even when you make mistakes (to which she reciprocated) but god. I always wonder what I'm never going to get back after one of these days, you know? What exactly have I ruined forever, what thirteen-year-old confidence will remain unshared?
I'm not at the top of my game today.
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In twelve days I'm having surgery, and it's kind of like trying to imagine childbirth and life after, when you're 39 weeks pregnant. You're so done with the waiting, you've watched all the YouTube videos of strangers undergoing intense bizarre things with their bodies, but godDAMN it is terrifying, the basic unknown. I hate the idea of general anesthesia not just because of the slight statistical risks but because I have such a tenuous hold on my world right now -- every minute of my day goes to managing the kids, the house, worrying about my dad, making sure the pets don't starve -- it's all of my energy, every shred of it. What might happen if I relinquish control for the three hours it'll take?
Not control, really. The illusion of control, which is far more difficult to let go of than the real thing.
* * * * *
My dad thinks he's on top of things. He thinks he's managing his caloric intake (in reality, he's taking in 700 calories a day), he thinks he's swollen from sodium intake (which is below minimum), he thinks he's itchy because of the detergent (and not because of advanced liver disease). He thinks about cars obsessively, he thinks about Jack LaLanne fitness books. I don't know what he thinks. Does he think he's going to die? Does he think he isn't? Does he know what to do with himself if he doesn't? Can he even imagine a life that's anything but physical and psychic pain? How long since his world was anything different?
Those are questions I can hardly ask, and that he won't answer anyway.
I keep trying though. I listen to whatever he has to say, which is usually some variation on the cars-Jack LaLanne-OCD endless loop, because even if we can't have a meaningful conversation I can have the experience of listening to him talk. I can't remember the words to the songs he used to sing me, and he can't sing them. I can give him my attention for a moment, I can give him the ephemeral experience of being attended to. I'm sure it slips away a half-second before he hangs up the phone, I can hear him tuning me out and tuning the pain in his body back in.
I keep vowing never to do this to my own kids, this slow starvation through gardens untended.
And then I scream at a four-year-old.
It's probably a good thing my jaw will be wired shut for a while.