I mean to get up at 5:30. To go for a run and get some work done before the kids woke. But I keep re-closing my eyelids until 6:40 and then I have 23 minutes – just enough time to make a coffee and sit to think about what I want to do before my kids wake – when Ruby stammers down the hallway, river-water-bedhead ablaze and ready.
So, instead we dive into bagels with cream cheese and again when big sister wakes. I sew and email around pinning capes over shoulders and reading books.
Mama can we design and make this dress today? I think it will be really easy!
Hold on, babe. I have to finish this and then I really want to see your design.
Mama I am STARVING. I have never been this hungry in my life. I know I had two breakfasts but I think I have two stomachs and this one is empty.
Ok, love. I’m on it. One sec.
Mom! Look! We made a list of all the things we want to do with you today and tomorrow. But if we get to them in three days, that’d be alright too.
I love this list and I love you. I hope we get to so much of this.
Mama my sister jumped right on my heart! I seriously feel like my actual heart is bruised! Or maybe even broken! And it hurt my feelings!
Come here and snuggle and then we’ll go talk with your sister.
Mama, I need your help finding that pink sock with the kind of white stripey things. I saw it last winter and I really need it right now.
I don’t know that sock. I will keep a look out. Can I help you find another for now?
Moooooooooom! You said you’d make more food! Aaaaaaahhhhhhh…
On it. Coming.
The morning is demanding of me from all fronts. This is the meat and potatoes of work-from-home challenge for me. My kids know I have to get things done but my work is so nebulous to them. Their dad leaves and comes home; his work is a romanticized mystery. I am “always working” as Margot recently noticed out loud. After I pulled the dagger out of my heart, I over-explained to her that my work is at home and allows flexibility and freedom and I choose this to be with her and her sister more. She got it. So did I.
This morning, I work and mother as best I can. And at noon I say,
What do you want to do? Let’s go.
We decide on a picnic of almonds, apples, graham crackers, goldfish and jolly ranchers. And picking huckleberries.
We unravel as we drive north. Cake plays on the radio and I know all the words. My kids are awestruck.
Windows down, from the valley floor brown to high alpine green.
I need your arms around me,
I need to feel your touch,
I need your understanding, I need your love,
I should get the oil changed, I think. And rotate the tires.
So mom we turn left and then right? And up? Right again? This looks so different without snow. It makes me kind of sad. I miss winter.
We turn corners, more corners over washboard, a dust cloud behind our aging car. My kids squeal with joy. I smile big. Ten and two.
I need to remember to order envelopes when I get home. I need to pick peas, prep that order and haul recycling.
Mama do you know what I don’t like about fire and death?
They can both happen at any moment. I mean I could die right now.
But that would be, like, super rare.
Yes. (long pause)
Anyway, I wonder what the rarest pokemon card is?
You tell me that you love me so,
You tell me that you care,
But when I need you,
You’re never there
We pass one car. He waves. I love that people always, always wave on Montana back roads.
On the phone,
Long long distance,
Always through such,
Mom, how do you know these words to this song? I’ve never heard it. Can you turn it down?
When first you say,
You’re too busy,
I wonder if you,
Even miss me
Mom you know what I don’t get? If you open your mouth there’s no blood pouring out. But if you cut yourself, blood pours out. Also, what exactly is a tornado?
You’re never there,
You’re never, ever,
Ever ever there,
I suddenly wish for the Cake album I gave to Goodwill 10 years ago. And Weezer. If you want to destroy my sweater, hold this thread as I walk away. And Violent Femmes. Let me go on like a blister in the sun.
Things lift as we ascend. Windows down, sucking air into the metal container that carries us up and into.
Mama, can I look through your purse? Do you have a book in there or something? I want to find something that confuses me. I like figuring stuff out.
We park and walk. And walk. And enter. I tell my daughters we are foragers. I define foraging and they make up songs about foraging as we wander in search of the little navy blue berries.
Margot. Don’t move. Don’t talk. And then butterflies and crickets will come to us.
We find them on a slippery shale slope. We each fall at different times, giving the other two an opportunity to stand strong and help the fallen upright. The girls wear leotards, mismatched socks and side ponytails. With skirts in my back pack, *just in case*.
We spend hours up there, wandering and wondering and collecting. Foraging. Ruby proudly, carefully collects all her berries in her basket. Margot ditches her basket and elects to eat as she goes. Ruby falls and spills the whole lot. We help her pick them up but they’re dusty and busted open. She’s heartbroken. And Margot bemoans her own empty basket.
Pride and anguish are cousins.
Margot says she’s happy to have eaten her share because she feels good and can’t spill. Ruby says she’s ok with what we couldn’t pick up because maybe her berry seeds will grow more huckleberries next year.
And besides, she says. We are all just covered in worm poop anyways.