Thursday, September 30, 2010

These are the days.

A friend of mine called her post-divorce/raising small kids years, “the dark ages”. It’s seems like struggle is the word of the day, every day. Still, it’s good. It’s good mainly because it could be a lot worse. I suppose it’s boring not to struggle. We all sit with our worries and try to make the best of it. Yesterday and today have been challenging for me. There’s no time to mow the yard. There’s no time to mop the floor. There’s no time for mindless television watching in a clean house with all work done and chores complete. There’s not enough money to pay every bill on time. The girls don’t want to go to bed, they don’t want to get up. They don’t want to eat this, they don’t want to drink that. It’s a constant negotiation. It’s exhausting. I don’t have time to take a walk. Still, it’s good because it could be a lot worse. I was driving home from taking my daughters to school today and tried to save a dog. I couldn’t convince this dog to get in my car. He was a collie and beautiful. Well, he would have been beautiful had he been groomed. He was very matted and appeared to be blind. He was limping. At first, I drove past him with voices in my head of people I never want to listen to saying that I couldn’t stop and help this dog. “What business do you have bringing another animal home? How will you afford the vet bill? How could you help a blind limping animal? What if this filthy animal hates children, cats and other dogs? What if this dog has rabies and bites you?”
Well, I couldn’t help this dog because I couldn’t catch him. Running after a strange animal through the backyards of strangers was clearly not going to be successful. I let it go. I walked back to my car and drove home. It made me feel very sad that I could not help this dog.
I go home, I shower and head to my 10am appointment. I actually had two 10am appointments because I am scattered. But they were both at the same place, making it silly but doable. While driving down Edgewood Avenue, I notice a man on the sidewalk staggering very dramatically. Then he falls flat on the pavement and doesn’t get up. The driver of the car in front of me seems to also see this. We both turn our cars around. We roll down our windows and ask if the other has seen this man fall down. This other driver is another woman and we park our vehicles and go to see what has happened. This man is pretty incoherent and apparently drunk. He is bleeding from the head wound he got from hitting the pavement. It turns out the other person who stopped to help, Renee, works with mentally ill patients at Peninsula. She’s able to soothe this man and call 911 at the same time. My job seems to be keeping this man from falling into oncoming traffic as he has made his way back onto his feet and veers from the sidewalk to the street and into people’s yards, holding on to light poles along the way. We can’t seem to get him to sit down. We find out from this man that he was just discharged from St. Mary’s Hospital. Somehow he has made his way across Broadway. He’s trying to get to his house, which is several blocks away. People pass by. Men in trucks who don’t stop but they stare. Another car pulls over with two women. They stay in their car but they stay until the situation is under control making sure that we have things handled with this bloody man. A woman comes out from her house to check on us. She has hand sanitizer. I can’t help but notice that no men stop to help. In fact, one man is sitting on his porch while the injured man is lying in his yard with Renee trying to soothe him and me providing a buffer from this man and the street. The man sitting on his porch gets up and goes inside. He goes inside while two women and a bleeding stumbling incoherent man are in his front yard. The police arrive. The ambulance arrives. We leave.
Even though my life seems to sit in the midst of struggle and I can’t quite see how to change it. I am very grateful for it. I’m grateful I’m not a matted limping blind animal. I’m glad I’m not drunk and stumbling down the sidewalk. I’m especially glad that I’m not a man who leaves his porch to lock his door.
I really hope someone was able to help that dog today.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

September and the moon.

As seen in the September issue of 180.

School is in. A friend with a brand new kindergartener posted on Facebook that “There is a 5am as well as a 5pm.”. This was a revelation but not the good sort. As a parent with school age children, it is shocking to realize that getting multiple persons up in the morning (and this includes yourself) requires an obscenely early start. You know it’s going to be hard but you don’t really get it until you are doing it. It’s just not the same as pre-school. The ‘big’ school has such things as homework and projects and tardy slips. You should not be holding a Pop Tart when you arrive and neither should your child. I set my alarm for 5:30 generally. It depends on how the night before goes. Sometimes it is earlier. I have to be completely battle ready when I rouse the troops. They are usually not pleased. We are two weeks in and have been on time so far. I did hear one story of a tardy child escorted into his room by his dad and he received “Oh look class, little Tommy’s Dad has brought Tommy to school late.” It’s harsh people. These elementary school teachers have no time to mess with it. A mom friend of mine recently confessed she was scared of her daughter’s kindergarten teacher last year. She didn’t realize it until the anxiety crept in as this school year approached. So I get up extra early to mentally prepare myself for the clothing, food, toothpaste, hair-brushing campaign that must be successful for us to arrive without incident. Or at least, without Mommy being called out for the whole tardy business and my girls with matching shoes on their feet. I play a little Madeleine Peyroux in the mornings or some Joni Mitchell or Corrine Bailey Rae. It’s as gentle as I can go to set the mood as I usher them from dreamland to you-have-to-get-out-of-your-cozy-bed now land. Sometimes I confess that I do play Beck. This morning I rewarded the first girl done with breakfast a trip to the backyard to look at the full moon lingering in the sky. This is what is good about the morning when the air is just a bit crisp. Of course, the girl finishing last also got to go. The unfortunate thing was that we had to leave that moon for school. Such is life.

Sometimes you have to leave the moon.

At the beginning of the school year there is a flurry of activity that centers around volunteers. I don’t mean the Tennessee Volunteers, I mean who will do traffic duty. Usually each class has a Room Parent. At our school, it’s all moms. However, I do know of at least two dads in kindergarten this year that are breaking rank to volunteer in the classroom. It’s like they are charging the Red Rover line. I think it’s about time for that. We have a Mothers Day Tea and a Fathers Day lunch at our school. The mothers prepare both. Red Rover, Red Rover, won’t you come over?

My youngest is in kindergarten. She’s very cute and happy about it. Tomorrow she gets to go through the cafeteria line for the first time. We’ve gone over the menu and I’ve reiterated that the fish wedge is just like a fish stick except it is a triangle. We’ve talked about this a lot. The cafeteria causes the littlest girl some amount of stress because she is a picky eater. She likes white and yellowish foods. No vegetables. No fruits. Very little protein and only if it’s breaded. This causes mom and big sis some amount of stress because we are eaters of all things. We both try to encourage the littlest one but she holds her ground. She won’t even eat brownies. Forget about broccoli.

The biggest is in the 4th grade, which shares a hallway with the 5th grade. She’s an upperclassman. This is evident in the snarky greeting I get after school each day. The days of her joyously hugging me in the afternoon are over. It takes her about 30 minutes before she feels like “talking about it”, meaning school. She declared to her grandmother that the 4th grade would be the “Year of Fashion”. Oh no. I was in a meeting with another mom earlier today who was telling me about her 5th grade son who just got his heart broken by his girlfriend from the 4th grade. I don’t think my girl is interested in boys yet. This is my hope since I was a late bloomer. I feel like I’m entering the days of payback. These are murky waters. These are dangerous times.

September represents school but it also represents birthdays for our family. Both girls were born in September. The school/birthday combo represents growing up more this year than before. It’s good but it’s noticed. I always tell them the story of their birth and we look at baby pictures and our lovely dear friend Peggy (Magpies Bakery) makes them super special cakes. Along with their dad, their stepmom, family and friends we party all month long. It’s a wonderful month but it’s also the path to their growing up. I am glad they still want to hold hands sometimes. I remember my friend Heather holding hands with her mother in the mall when we were in high school. Her mother was British. I took that to be the reason for such strange behavior. Maybe that’s how they do things across the pond. I had never seen such PDA with mothers and daughters who are practically grown. I think of that moment a lot now that my girls are getting bigger. I wonder what I can do that will keep their little hands in mine even when they are big hands. I guess I’ll just cross my fingers and show them the moon as often as I can. September is a big deal.