I woke up dazed and confused: this was not my pillow or my comforter. A Playmobil queen and her entourage stared at me from the other side of the room while a ginger-haired mermaid gazed sweetly down at me from the wall. Even more unsettling was the glowing yellow-faced clock that announced it was 9:04 a.m., two hours past my typical wake up time. Where the heck was I?
Then I remembered: I’d stumbled into my youngest daughter’s room sometime in the early morning when she’d come bouncing into our bed, awake for the day. Without saying a word, I’d padded down the hall, slipped into her slim twin bed and fell soundly back to sleep. Isn’t sleeping in what moms do on Mother’s Day?
I used to be one of those moms who dreaded the teenage years. I’d joke that when my daughters hit adolescence I’d willingly hand over all parenting duties to my husband. As a former camp counselor and 7th grade religious school teacher, I figured he had the chops to handle it. I, on the other hand, was scared of screwing up. I had no credentials other than having once been a teenage girl myself. Disparaging comments like “If you think she’s a handful now, just wait until she’s a teenager!” from older parents who saw me toting around two little girls and then three, didn’t help. I was convinced that parenting teen girls would be a fraught, confusing experience that would drain my confidence, try my patience and basically freak me out.
I am wrist deep in raw eggs and ground turkey, basil, rosemary and thyme. The peach-colored meat squishes through my fingers as I mix it with the homemade breadcrumbs I just pulverized out of gluten-free pretzels. It’s 1:30 in the afternoon and I am standing in my stinky morning workout clothes making turkey meatballs for dinner. I am telling you this because I do not like to cook. I do not enjoy the thinking up of a meal, the shopping for and prepping. I do not like managing the timeline of dinner, serving up various dishes nice and hot. I do not like begging my kids to please come to the table, not in a minute, but now. The day-long journey into dinner distracts me, pulling me away from a million other more important, more interesting, more pressing thoughts, endeavors and pursuits. It’s that annoying fly that won’t go away no matter how many times I swat at it.
Love floats up from the sifted flour, clings to the raw sugar, pierces through the sharp scent of pure vanilla extract. Affection oozes out of every egg, dropping from cracked shells, wobbling and waiting. There is a deep abiding love in the softened butter, the kind that comes from grass fed cows grazing on verdant hills. It gleams in the quick whip and whir of the beaters, spinning fast and faster until the batter smoothes out. Love smears itself across their sweet faces, ranging from little girl to almost grown, tongues lapping molded plastic spatulas, fingers leaving tracks inside the scraped out bowl. Continue reading “A Birthday Cake Shaped Space”→
The little one wakes up at the same time every morning, give or take 15 minutes. Never mind that it’s the weekend. I long to sleep in, but my internal clock has adjusted to hers, which means I’m groggy but awake when she comes padding into my room.
“I miss daddy,” she says, leaning her face into mine. I run my tongue around the inside of my dry, sleepy mouth.
“I know. Me too,” I say. “Let’s FaceTime him.”
I pick up my phone from the bedside and press “Josh in Israel.” A shrill ring starts up immediately and within seconds we see him on the screen. Thousands of miles away, he sits at a beachfront café, the sun setting over the Mediterranean, his face warm and glowing, grinning. Here at home we are just waking up. My bed-head splayed across the propped up pillows, the sleep still heavy in my eyes, my cheeks not yet rosy. The morning sun comes through the window, weak after a night’s rain, gray tinged clouds hanging in the bluing sky. Continue reading “When Distance Makes the Heart Grow”→