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Yesterday while we were eating frozen yogurt outside the froyo shop, Zoe and I had this conversation.

Z: “Did you and Daddy have jobs before you were married?”

Me: “Yes. You have to get a job after your graduate from college, whether or not you’re married. So Daddy and I have both had jobs for a long time.”

Pause

Me: “Why do you ask?”

Z: “I saw those two men go into the frozen yogurt shop and I wondered if they were married. Or if they just worked together. Or if they were married and worked together. They were wearing ties.”

I surge through half the day fueled solely by adrenaline.

Must make it to school on time.

Must feed and clothe baby.

Everything else is negotiable.

 

Later, I turn to caffeine.

You decide whether or not it is toxic for you.

For me it is a balm.

 

By 5:30 the screaming starts.

I am spent.

But I cannot stand the screaming.

So I stuff the baby in the carrier and pace.

Up and down the sidewalk in front of the house on a nice day.

If I remember shoes and sunglasses it’s a plus.

Or in circles around 1584 square feet, dodging toys and baby apparatus.

While the first grader snacks and relaxes.

I am fortunate that she is tolerant.

 

When the baby is asleep, I can sit down for a few minutes to talk

Or play with the first grader.

As long as I hold myself in just the right position

So as not to disturb the baby.

 

If only I could sleep. Please please let me sleep.

 

Eventually, he wakes up smiling and it is time to get oatmeal

or the vegetable du jour all over his face and clothes.

Yesterday when I was cleaning Zeke off after he spit up, Zoe said, in an extremely sincere voice, “I can’t wait to be a mom.”

“Really?” I asked, puzzled but not shocked, since she does love to inspect his dirty diapers. “So you can clean up spit-up?”

“I was being sarcastic,” she explained with an eye roll.

“Oh,” I said. “I understand. You’ll love being a mom. But cleaning up spit-up is not nearly the worst part of being a mom.”

“What is?” She asked. “Poopy diapers?”

While it can be unpleasant, none of that stuff is the worst part of being a mom, I told her. So she asked what was so bad.

“Seeing your kid be sick or unhappy or worrying that something is wrong with them. That’s way worse than cleaning up spit-up or poop,” I explained.

“Oh.”

Tonight at bedtime I could hear Zoe telling Randy about how she was scared about starting first grade. I am scared too. I feel like it’s me starting first grade, but with fear multiplied by a thousand because there are so many more things to be worried about than she even knows exist. Which is a good thing. I will resist the urge to tell her about them. I will do my best to be brave, because I know she has to. She’s already in training to be a mom.

At Target tonight my cashier was a 17-year-old who said I would leave the store feeling better than I had when I came in, thanks to him. He wasn’t clear on how he would accomplish this mood enhancement. Perhaps he thought that simply his dazzling presence would lift my spirits. Then, when he scanned two pairs of size 9m footie pajamas I was buying for Zeke he asked, “do you have grandchildren?”

Randy pointed out when I got home that the young man might come from a family where youthful-looking 39-year-olds ARE, in fact, grandmothers. Theoretically I could be a grandmother, if my life had gone very differently. I am thankful it worked out the way it did.

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