I have a beautiful day to look forward to tomorrow, including time with a friend who offered to bring lunch. I was expecting something simple, but considering that all of the mama meals this friend has brought us after the birth of our last three babies have become staples at this house, I should have known better. The menu (yes, menu) she sent me has me drooling, and also vowing to feed my family more interesting food. (Seriously! Nutty noodles (almond butter + maple syrup), sweet peas, cooked greens ‘slaw’/cold salad (collards, cabbage, carrots, oranges, cranberries). White bean dip + tortilla chips. Oranges!).
In anticipation of a full day out of the house, and with the need to empty our chest freezer, which desperately needs defrosting, last night I pulled out frozen pumpkin and apples for baking, and cauliflower to make my new favorite “cream” sauce for tomorrow’s dinner. Today was going to be productive, so tomorrow could be relaxing.
I’m not sure what time the bickering started, whether shortly before or shortly after sunrise, but it’s been going on most of the day. The heat of summer has arrived along with the mosquitoes and our own backyard black widow colony, so we’ve been driven inside into close quarters. In any case, the bickering continued on and off, about this toy or another, or whose turn it was to hold the baby, or who said what harsh thing to whom.
While the love of my life had a routine dermatology check-up, my anxiety mounted, as it is prone to do. I refrained from googling skin cancer, thinking of Kindness Girl‘s husband’s response to my assertion that he and my husband should form a support group: “Yeah, Dads against WebMD.” Oh, how we’d laughed. But oh, how close to home it hit.
I tried to distract myself with the postpartum exercise video I hope helps my lower back, though I doubt doing the exercises with a three-year-old climbing on me is overly effective. Giving up on the exercise video, I decided to tackle the pile of neglected mail and realized we’d failed to fill out a simple on-line questionnaire that would have reduced our health insurance premium for the next six months. Meanwhile the boys were asking me to read to them (and fighting over which book it would be) while I was trying to assess the actual monetary damage of our oversight.
And the love of my life is fine. And the damage not that great, so I should have taken a moment to breathe deeply and appreciate the good. I should have taken a moment to smile at my girl, who was scrubbing cabinets with her mama, wearing her Gran-made apron. But she and I had things to bake, and we had dinner to make, for tonight and tomorrow. And it all sounds so impressive, this baking with food we preserved ourselves last fall, and this cooking two dinners at a time, but it’s so much less impressive when you know that I was frazzled and couldn’t concentrate on the boys’ bickering or Tony, holding a cooing and shrieking baby and looking up the origin and cost per gram of each of the spices Mia was reading from our spice racks, and then I managed to catch a mason jar lid on fire that was, unbeknownst to me, stuck to the bottom of a pot, filling the kitchen with fumy, toxic BPA-laden smoke.
And so I sent everyone upstairs, and opened the back door for the smoke (and indoor cat) to get out, and the wasps and mosquitoes to get in — the wasps we don’t want to get rid of because they may or may not be predators of black widows. And just as the smoke started to dissipate, down came Tony and Mia, and Mia was covering her face and crying, and Tony was saying something about needing stitches. And after picture taking and e-mailing to the pediatrician aunt to confirm, he and my girl were off to get stitches, she scared and tearful, but still hugging her littlest brother and telling him it’s okay, she knows he didn’t mean to hurt her. And after they left, my little guy fell into my arms and said very, very softly, “I’m sorry I threw the wooden thing at Mia.”
And though every fiber of my being wanted to be with my girl, I served dinner for the boys, and Jonah picked out the mushrooms, and Lucas declared the entire thing inedible because even though he picked out the tomatoes, it still TASTED like tomatoes. And in frustration, I showed them the giant vegan food nutrition chart I hung on the kitchen wall, and explained to them how they couldn’t just eat one category, their bodies needed lots of variety. And they chimed in, offering to eat many of the beautiful fruits and vegetables and grains pictured, none of which I had to offer them at the moment, so, with a crying baby in my arms, I sighed, and instead cut them each an extra huge hunk of pumpkin bread and held the pieces out to them with the plea that they just eat them and go to bed without fighting. And they did eat them, and sort of went to bed, emerging only to find stuffed animals, to complain about the blanket situation, to fight over who got to rest his head on the monarch butterfly pillow, to say it was too bright, to argue the other was snoring too loudly, before finally going to sleep in their clothes, teeth unbrushed.
And now they are sleeping, the house quiet and still for the first time today. And Tony called, and Mia is not afraid any longer. My poor, sweet, brave girl, who told her brother it was okay and held him close, though she was scared. And I think of my littlest boy, and his quiet contrition, and of my biggest boy, who brought band-aids and cool washcloths and comfort, and I’m sorry for having been impatient with any of them today, and vow to do better tomorrow, as I often do.