I was on the way home last night wishing, for the 876th time, that I could have a stiff martini. (What? There haven't been that many days yet in my latest pregnancy? There are many hours in a day, my friends.) My work had been horribly grueling both this week and last, with the launch of two web sites in as many days, and another work project that involved a neckless, troglodytic man yelling at me for something I did not personally do.
This last debacle had caused me the kind of heart-pounding night anxiety that leads to thoughts like "The baby's gonna come out!" and needless to say, I have not been feeling great about work, life in general, nor my abilities to take care of Revered Son 1 or Revered Son 2. And my blog posts have gone down the terlet. (That's what I get for telling a child he's going to get et by a lion.)
So on the way home tonight, with my head pounding feverishly with every step, I stopped walking at about 6:45 right in the middle of my block. My children were in that lit house down the way, waiting for me. I could not, could not, could not face their eager little faces and their wild, full-tilt runs right into my legs as soon as I walked in the door (usually, the eldest places his head right at the level of the pubic bone and charges like a bull). Their limbs would flail and they would make loud, excited noises. I prayed that the babysitter had already put them in their cozies, because I knew if I had to do it myself it would involve a gargantuan effort of will that would leave me broken and weeping. And, God help me, I would have to conquer the frightful task of making sure they had brushed their teeth. And then I would have to read a book (forget that: three books) with a modicum of energy and enthusiasm.
So I stopped and waited and thought about what to do. I really wanted to see them. Yes, I really like them! And work has been so awful for the last couple of weeks that I haven't had the ability to enjoy them much, sad as it may sound. I thought about quitting more than once but considering I provide for our entire family's health insurance and am soon to have a baby, that seemed pretty untenable. I know I had nothing to give them, though. How could I go in?
Then I decided. I wasn't going to give them anything. I was going to take. I was going to let them give me something. I hoped that it might be a thread of energy, or joy, or just something good. But maybe it would be a poke in the eye.
I came in and I told them that my head was hurting badly, and I sat down on the couch. They were in their footed cozies, and they came around, concerned. The older one was prompt in his response. "I am going to take care of that for you, mommy," he said. I followed him upstairs to his "office," where he proclaimed himself Doctor and put an Elmo Band-Aid on my head. He bade me lie down and he placed his warm little hand on my forehead. "Does dat feel better?" he asked. It did. The little one had run off to play with trains. He then put a sticker on my forehead, right next to the Band-Aid, that read "Super."
The Doctor and I conversed for a while about my health and this and that, and he got me to step on the office scale and showed me the charts on the wall of babies inside their mommies. Then he pronounced his diagnosis: "If you don't take the Band-Aid off you will get better and feel better but when you take it off it might hurt. So don't take it off."
"I won't," I promised. The Band-Aid seemed very helpful, like a barrier against the pain.
He then turned to me with those lamplike blue eyes with their absurdly long lashes, blinked them solemnly, and added: "And in the end you will go to the dying place and die, and when you die you will be gone." I stared at him wordlessly. Gosh, that seemed awfully final. Gone? But I don't want to be "gone." And where is the "dying place"? My eyes filled with tears and I made a small, choking sound.
But he waved his hand impatiently, like he must do with all his troubled patients. "Oh, don't cwy, siwwy," he said lightly, with a tilt of his head and a wry smirk. "You're not dead yet!"
No, guess I ain't.