Monday, August 21, 2006

time for you

may I always remember to hug, kiss, play, and dance with you

A Story For Moms Like Me: The Day I Died
By Jenefer Igarashi, Senior Editor, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

The sunlight embraced me, waking me with the sweet promise of spring. My lacy white drapes were drawn back like curtains on a stage, displaying the first radiant, clear, blue sky in three months. I drew in a deep satisfied breath and was filled with an eagerness to start the day. I leaped out of bed, and screamed in pain. It was the sharp edge of my four-year-old's jumbo Lego piece. But it mattered little. I gathered my crumpled self off the floor. The sun was lighting up my room and inspiring me, so much, in fact, that I headed downstairs to do a workout video. I needed to feel like a part of this day, full of life.
Four minutes into my routine I was feeling great. I was about to grapevine to the left when a groggy-eyed eight-year-old appeared on the stairs.
"Hi, mom."
"Hi." I panted. I kept going, annoyed, yet not deterred. Out of nowhere, my four-year-old suddenly flew straight into my legs with an excited shriek. I stumbled out of sync with the perfect blonde on the screen.
"Get off." I wheezed, "Go eat." Fewer words, less loss of energy. My eight-year-old, Molly, stumbled down the stairs and stopped, mid-yawn, staring with amusement.
Kelly twirled and knocked into my legs.
"Mama, can I dance with you?"
"No." I gave a pleading look. "Molly, make breakfast for you and your sister." She nodded and dragged Kelly, who started squealing, into the kitchen. I blocked them out as they banged cupboards and dropped silverware. I focused my concentration faithfully on the perfect blonde doing rock steps to the left. Minutes later a loud thud shook the ceiling. Angry bellows followed.
"Bo dive-bombed out of his crib," Molly hollered from the kitchen. Frustrated, I snapped off the TV and went to tend the man-child.
After being plunked into his high chair with a pop tart, I switched on the radio news hoping for a small glimpse of the free world on the outside while I did dishes.
Bo began fussing so I gave him a spoon and a cottage cheese lid to play with, and then began re-organizing the refrigerator.
"Mom, will you play a game with me?" Molly asked.
"No," I said slowly, as if I were actually considering it, "I have a lot to get done." I smiled and gave her a quick pat on the head, "Maybe later."
Not a minute passed before Kelly was in my face holding up her favorite book.

"You wanna read Go Dog, Go?" She was bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet. Bo chucked his spoon at me and it clattered across the floor. The cottage cheese lid came sailing after seconds later. He tossed his head back and angrily kicked the bottom of his high chair tray.
"You wanna?" she asked, still bouncing.
"What?" I asked vaguely.
"Will you read this to me?"
"No, not right now," I told her, "Maybe later, O.K.? I have to do the laundry." I smiled apologetically but this didn't deter her.
"Ooooohhhhh! Can I help you?" she squealed. I grabbed the screaming baby and plopped him into his playpen.
"How 'bout you watch Barney instead?" I suggested. With her help the laundry would take twice as long.
I started folding towels and made a mental list of the jobs I had for the day.
Bo started crying again. He was standing against the mesh side and holding his pudgy little arms out towards me. He hadn't had his morning bottle and was fussy.
After searching the cupboards twice, I remembered leaving his formula in the van. Shoving my sock-less feet into my tennis shoes, I ran to get it.
As I closed the door to my dreary, monotonous home I was met with the beauty of life "on the outside." I leaned against the cool wood door and drank in the peacefulness. The sky was a perfect springtime blue. The fresh morning air was brushed with sweet jasmine and new grass and together they fragrantly swirled their lovely fingers within my soul, stirring remembrances of beautiful, carefree days of long ago. I once had dreams. How did I end up as just a stay-at-home mother?
I hadn't realized my eyes were closed until they snapped open as Bo's ear-piercing war cry sliced through the door. I lingered outside defiantly, blocking him out.
A young man turning the corner at the end of the block caught my eye. He was glancing at the houses on both sides of the street. He had a leather jacket tossed over his shoulder and on his right arm there was a large, indiscernible tattoo. He caught my gaze and held it. He swung his long hair off his shoulders and quickened his step. I slid the van door open and searched for the formula, which I found lodged under the back seat. I turned around and jerked, startled that the young man had stopped at the foot of my inclined driveway and was watching me. I dropped the formula and it rolled into the street. He ignored the can and pulled out a piece of paper.
"I can't find Irving Circle; you know which way it is?" he asked. I nodded and gave quick directions.
He mumbled "thanks" and sped off.
Bo's screams heightened. I rolled my eyes and ran to collect his formula.
I did not see the truck barreling down the street, nor did I feel the impact as it struck me, but I knew instantly that I was dead. I was staring at my body on the street while a frantic man jumped out of the truck and began clutching at his hair. I turned in a slow circle, not sure of what to do. White powder was spewn over the asphalt where I lay.
My children. The thought spun me towards my house. I stood in the street near my body, yet I could see clearly into every room of my home. Bo was angrily throwing his head against the mesh side of the playpen. Molly was on her bed staring at the ceiling. Little Kelly was sitting on the couch concentrating on the book I wouldn't read her.
I tried stepping towards my home but couldn't move my legs. I could and did stumble backwards, but when I rushed forward, my feet held fast.
I looked around wildly as things began strangely changing. The bright blue sky slowly seeped away like fresh paint washed away by the rain. In its place a lifeless gray oozed out, soaking up the open space. The landscape stood securely, but all of its color drained.
Panic of all sorts invaded me and I fell to my knees. I desperately willed for my children to stay inside. I watched them intently.
I was grabbed suddenly from behind, and was shocked to see my mother. Tears were streaming down her face. She had been dead for years. Despite my surprise, I was mildly annoyed at being distracted.
"I've been waiting for so long," her voice broke. She hugged me again and I let her. I was glad when she turned from me and looked towards my children. She covered her mouth and cried.
"I've been watching you all this time," she managed, and then took a deep breath to calm herself. "Right from the very start, I've watched you with your children." A sob escaped her, but she controlled her voice and said, "I see that I taught you well."
You taught me nothing, I very nearly snapped, for she hadn't. She had always been too busy with "life" to spend time with me. Then I realized her meaning. The reality slapped me. I couldn't breathe as I stared at each of their lovely faces. Regret dumped over me in heavy ice-cold splashes. It was true. I was just like her. The children were something that needed to "get done." Just another endless household job.
How many times had I wished my mother would sit with me? How many times had my children wanted that? I longed desperately to touch them. Why hadn't I put Kelly on my lap and taught her to fold the clothes, or danced with her, instead of the perfect blonde on TV? Now, I would never have the chance. And my son. I would never be able to hold his chubby little body against me. I could count on one hand the times I had sat down to play with Molly, or brush her hair, or listen to her talk. I was always too busy.
My mother put her hand on my shoulder. I restrained the urge to pull away. I didn't want to see her then, but reluctantly gave her my attention when I saw her pleading eyes. She stumbled for words. "I wish that things would have been different," she finally said. I wasn't sure if she meant for her and me, or for my children and me.
"Please," she said, "can we please spend some time?" she looked at me hopefully. "We could read together; I know you like to read." But I didn't want to be with her. I just wanted to be alone and wait for my children to finally come to where I was. I barely knew this sorrowful woman.
I kept my eyes on my children and let my mother wait. Time began shifting strangely, much like the colors had. I watched as changes came stridently. Bo stopped crying and his playpen disappeared. Seconds later he was a toddler running through the house. I watched in amazement as Molly's features changed and her young girlish face sharpened beautifully. Little Kelly's cropped hair grew long and was tied back, and she moved gracefully, rather than bouncing off the walls in a hyper frenzy.
I was interrupted this time by the voice of my grandmother. "Ha!" she chortled. "Yeh finally got here, I see." She was hunched over in a drab, knitted shawl and her wrinkled face was twisted into a frown. She cocked her head. "I see yeh got yerself some little devils runnin' wild." She shook her head and heaved out a sigh, "Yer mother rattles about how delightful they are. Ha! Sure, they're cute now... I just had me the one! And I was still kept tied to the house like a slave!" I stared at her with disdain. She peered towards my house and nodded, "Well, if you take to wallowin' in yer pity, least you can find comfort that your toilet bowl is shined up nice and clean."
I didn't know if she mocked me or if she spoke out of sheer idiocy, but at that point I didn't care, and began screaming at her until she left.
I hated being here. I could only wait until my children came. Things had continued to change while I was yelling at my grandmother. The children were a little older and a woman was in the house. A woman? She had my children by the hands, twirling them in a circle. And they were all laughing. I pressed against the unseen window that blocked me from my children. They were fine. They were happy. Then the woman gathered my children on the couch. Bo reached up and touched her face and she smiled lovingly at him. Something twisted in my heart. Molly leaned against the woman's shoulder. The woman's other arm drew Kelly in close. Kelly beamed and held up a book. "Will you read this one, Mommy?"
What? Had Kelly called her Mommy? The woman kissed my daughter's head and opened the book.
"NO!" I screamed, "I'm Mommy!" I pressed against the window desperately. "Kelly! I'm your Mommy!" She could not hear me. They didn't remember me. They loved her. Now what would I be waiting for? My children would greet me with the same enthusiasm that I had for my own mother. It was too much to bear. Sorrow crashed against me in violent waves, choking me, drowning me.
"Please!" I sobbed, "I love you! Remember? Please remember!" But remember what? That I was too busy? Oh God! I pleaded. They must have known I loved them.
Tears blinded me. I couldn't see them but I could hear their voices and they tortured me. "Mommy?" Kelly asked her. The woman didn't answer. I could do nothing but cry. Laughter and joy came from the room. Why hadn't I seen how much they meant to me when I was there?
"Mommy?" Kelly said again, and once more the woman did not answer. Why would she not answer? I tried to see through my tears but everything was blurry and gray. My mother whispered, "I'm sorry," sounding far-off. It echoed against my sorrow. And then again, another hand was on my shoulder.
The gray swirled and dispersed. I was lying on my back. My eyes opened slowly. My white lacy drapes were pulled back, displaying a clear blue sky, and Kelly was leaning over me with wide, beautiful, teary eyes.
"Mama, I had a bad dream," she said. I pulled her close and buried my tear-stained face into her hair. I kept my eyes open, afraid to be sucked back into that dreary gray world.
"I had a bad dream too, my love." I whispered. She pulled away with surprise, "Did you dream that I fell off the roof, too?"
I laughed through my tears.
"That's awful, sweetie; is that what you dreamed?" She nodded and I hugged her again until she finally gasped for air.
On that new day, on that beautiful morning, I had the first truly productive day I'd ever had. Syrupy plates piled up in the sink, and the mountain of laundry grew to new heights. The radio stayed off and the TV was nearly chucked into the dumpster.
That first day we gathered up every pillow in the house and built a fort around the kitchen table. And we stayed inside that fort, Bo on my lap and my girls at my side, and read Go Dog Go about fifteen times.
I was no longer trapped; my dreams were being realized. I learned this on the day I died, and praised God for second chances.

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Hi! Let's all try to add more positivity in this world and adhere to the saying, "if you don't have anything nice to say, keep silent."

Showering you with unicorn poop so you'd always stay magical! Heart heart!