let us run like feral cats through the diminishing wilderness

Getting out the door is a hassle. If you’re a parent to a small child, and you find yourself, for any reason, having to leave the house, you know what I’m talking about.

A friend once told me that her sister in law took her newborn daughter out of the house a sum total of two times during the little lass’ first year, and while at the time I was appalled, I can’t say I didn’t sympathize with this woman.

Another friend recently got into an argument with her new boyfriend, because he said that whenever he called her she was “trying to get out the door” and she was like “you better fucking believe it, you try getting a 10 year old and a 7 year old out the door, breakfasted and dressed, homework and books in backpacks, for a 7:20 school drop off, or 4:10 game start, or to the grocery store, or ANYWHERE!” That relationship did not last.

When I was in high school it was my job to wake up my dad to drive me to school. We did the carpool, and dad was on mornings. If I was ready to go on time, dad was running late, and if he was ready, I was still trying to get some frozen butter onto a frozen waffle. We’d get into the frosty car, crank up the heat, argue about music, and zoom off into the lightening morning. For some reason, in my memory, every school morning of my childhood was negative 12 degrees pitch black. We’d ride out to pick up Jen Ford, who I’d gone to junior high with, and was now at my same Catholic school. She always had her bangs done, a smile on her face, her white pressed shirt tight over her large breasts. Her mother would pick us up after school. So clearly I see her face in the driver’s seat, her thin cheeks, long bangs over her eyes, her voice soft, near inaudible, while Jen’s was loud. Jen would slide into the pessenger seat, and I’d get into the back, with Jen’s two sticky half brothers. Jen’s mom was well into her second marriage, just like my dad. Jen and I had that in common. Lot’s of us did.

Once a few years ago my dad mentioned that Jen died in a car wreck. The memory of the telling was vague enough that I could believe it never happened, or the wreck. But I looked it up, and she’s on Notre Dame’s in memoriam page. She was on the honors track, while I wallowed below in economy class. I picture her mom standing by her grave side, I’m still unable to see the woman’s eyes behind her long bangs. I think about looking up what her brothers are doing now, but I don’t know the last name of Jen’s mom’s second husband, never did. I don’t know what Jen wanted to do when she grew up, I don’t know where she wanted to go to college, or if she wanted to marry. I know she was smart, smarter than me, that the books she was reading seemed so grown up compared to mine, that she thought my music was depressing (she and my dad had that in common), that her hair was long and brown, her eyes bright, and that we shared a school year of car rides

Rough morning, this. I didn’t want to get out of bed, so I didn’t. So much really solid planning went into this morning. I’d laid out my gym clothes, and my work clothes, and C’s school clothes. I’d packed his lunch, talked to him before bed about what he wanted for breakfixt and had it prepped. The coffee was iced, the alarm was set, and after mending a pair of old boots, I was in bed by 11 pm. Then this morning rolled around. I woke up feeling weird at 4 am, got back to sleep to face dreams of tangled embraces and urgency. I wanted to write. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to get dressed and go to the gym, three blocks away, in the lightening darkness of an October morning. So I did nothing. I thought of mornings from my youth. I thought of my dad. I thought of Jen Ford.

Mornings. Mornings are a hassle.

Dave and I have been having trouble getting C out the door for school. Part of it is that he just can’t wrap his mind around going to school every day. Last week, on Friday, he yelled out “but what day do I NOT have school?!” And we were quick to say “tomorrow, you don’t have school on the weekend.” But still, only two days off out of seven? For a 4 year old kid? For his 30-something mom? It’s brutal.

Every morning is an experiment. This is improvement from every morning being a disaster. Yesterday morning was perfect. This morning less so. Tomorrow is up for grabs.

Me
Go on, have some breakfast.

C
I don’t like my smoothie in this cup.

Me
(holding up a different cup)
How about this one?

C
No.

Me
(holding up a different cup, I know how important preferences are)
How about this one?

C
No.

Me
Do you want this smoothie?

C
No.

Me
Well then have some toast.

C
It got soggy while I was looking for my Rescue Bots.

Me
Do you want something else?

C
Pancakes.

Me
Okay.

I make him pancakes. There’s batter in the fridge already made so it’s not a big hassle. Should I not make him pancakes? Should I be a hard ass and say “this is what you said you wanted for breakfast so just eat it?” Should I say “this is your breakfast, if you don’t eat it you’ll have no breakfast?” Should I make the pancakes? Scold that he was looking for his Rescue Bots while he should have been eating breakfast?

Should we throw it all in and leave town and go running like feral cats through the diminishing wilderness? Should we live on a mountaintop overlooking the sea? Should I be surprised that C has the same trouble getting his mind to accept the day that I do? Should I feel guilty about what I’ve perhaps passed down to him? Why is it so possible to suck it up one day and so impossible the next? Is it hormones? Neurons? Chemicals? Planetary alignment? Shifting winds? Shifting wants? Lack of sun? Lack of will power? Is it solvable? It it a thing that ought be solved?

The thing too is that when it all lands, when it all is perfect, the breakfast eaten, the gym gone to, the child dressed and teeth brushed, the getting to work on time, all that stuff… When it all lands life is not particularly better than when it does not land. I’m still tired. I’m still in love with my child. I still want to stay up all night and have to force myself to go to sleep. I still have to work whether I’m on time or not. I still want to snuggle my kid whether he had a good day or bad.

Yesterday I believed in the morning, all the promise of a new day, the chill in the air, Jen Ford’s smile and her big, boisterous “good morning” that she had as she climbed into the back seat behind my dad and I, two morose motherfuckers in the gray interior. This morning I only believed in us.

trying on my glasses

trying on my glasses

playing with new super tiny cars on the subway. I think it was all this guy could do to not ask if he could play too.

playing with new super tiny cars on the subway. I think it was all this guy could do to not ask if he could play too.

batting at the water at Imagination Playground

batting at the water at Imagination Playground

Hiding from the Ragamuffin Parade.

Hiding from the Ragamuffin Parade.

On the sidelines.

On the sidelines.

This is what we were hiding from!

This is what we were hiding from!

The C decided he wanted to be Batman after all, and joined in behind the banner for his school. School pride? What?

The C decided he wanted to be Batman after all, and joined in behind the banner for his school. School pride? What?

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2 thoughts on “let us run like feral cats through the diminishing wilderness

  1. Dale Aquilino

    You Libby are amazing! Your thought process, recollection of feelings and expressions and then putting it on paper. A picture or two, so we aren’t guessing.
    Such talent!

    Reply

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