As I showered and redressed into a different pair of Halloween pajamas, it occurred to me that my day was reminiscent of much simpler times.
I buried myself in childhood card games with my daughter as the day outside pummeled the windows with rain soaked fallen leaves. I made the kids lunch and cleaned the house at a quiet pace while they contentedly ate their sandwiches in front of Halloween specials. I took a break from the cleaning to play one last game of Uno with my daughter, who had conveniently shuffled and dealt the cards for us. After playing nearly all of the draw four wild cards on her first turn, I knew I had to throw down my mental No Mercy hand. Despite her meticulous measures taken to slaughter me, it was my parental duty to teach her “cheaters never win”. In that moment I felt guilty. I wonder if it is this early installment of simple morals that make us so vulnerable later in life. Many of us discover that it is often the cheaters that win in the greater scheme of things while the morally sound end up on the lower rungs getting trampled by the less savory characters in the world. Those contemplations are for another time though.
My day ended with a glorious sunset, bedtime stories, followed by movies in silence while I practiced knitting because I’m absolutely terrible at it. As I laid on the couch with my kids in my arms, my daughter whispered, “You’re the best mommy ever.” My son leaned over and pleaded for the packaged deal of “hugs, kisses, and I love you.” For the day, I wasn’t in hell. All of the decisions that were made for me, the missed opportunities, the failures, the betrayals, the heartaches… all of the times I’ve suffered so badly that all I could do was cry and hope that I didn’t have to wake up the next day… all of that was a memory and I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t sad.
I stripped out of the pajamas I had only worn for a few hours and crawled into bed naked. Alone in the great expanse of fleece and down, I ran my legs along the fabric and smiled to myself at the softness. As my senses powered down for the day, I faded into the memory of love and laughter and light. I held dearly because the day was dying fast.
Morning came. It came as it has a thousand times over. I rolled into the vacant space beside me… like a frozen void in my bed… and the muted babbling of my children playing in the next room somehow seemed discordant. It was a new day.
Despite the mellifluous awakening, I managed to hold it together. I went through the normal routines and took a break to sit at the table with the two of them for a special project. We opened a brand new package of glitter glue and tore pages from coloring books. I taught them moderation in how to spread the globs across the paper and still maintain the proper amount of color. They made me pictures and had a wonderful time while being extremely well behaved. All the while I wanted to scream, “CAN’T YOU SEE I’M NOT OKAY?! Don’t you know that this laughter will end??” Of course what good would it do to traumatize them.
I knew it would only get worse when I got them into the car. It stalled. It started again. It’s only 5 years old… and glaring on the dashboard… “SERVICE ENGINE SOON”. As if adding the word ‘soon’ is going to soften the screams of mass capital letters in neon orange. As if ‘soon’ is any real definition of time. In fact, ‘soon’ makes me think that my car wants me to die in a fire when the engine decides to explode while I’m driving it because our definitions of such an ambiguous term didn’t quite match up.
Needless to say, we didn’t explode. Nor did we crash due to my spending the entire 45 minute drive staring at those three words as if by looking away, I would be sealing our molten fate. No. I arrived home alone and safe. Safe, ha ha. Alone, boo hoo.