Karen Rivers

passage of time.

Karen Rivers

We are in the grocery store and the kids are in the cart and they are hungry and it's too late for this.   The Birdy is barefoot and I know it's November and she shouldn't be but she is and who cares?  She's in the cart.   We're inside.   It doesn't matter.    We're wheeling around and I can't find the avocado anywhere.  I'm frustrated and the kids are crabby and I should forget about it.  I feed them avocado every day because I heard it's good for your brain and I CAN'T FIND IT and they don't want it anyway.   But the other things I'm feeding them are not as good for their brains and feeding them avocado constantly makes me feel like a good mother, so I do it as much for me as for them.   Who was it that said that no good deed is done unselfishly?  They might be right.

The Bun is parked near the broccoli and he looks at it and says, "Oh, BROCCOLI.   Can we have some as a special treat?"   And I pretend to ponder this and then I say, "Sure, honey, just this once."  I feel people looking at me, like, "WHAT MAGIC HAS THIS WOMAN WROUGHT?"   They do not know that this is my only impressive mothering feat, accidentally tricking The Bun into thinking broccoli is a rare reward for good behavior.   All they have to do is look at The Birdy's bare toes and they will know that I don't really have this gig nailed yet.    

Then an old lady stops in front of me.   She's so old that her skin is completely transparent and her veins snake across her temples, a furious purple colour that can't really exist on a living human, but does.   She is looking at my kids with her mouth slightly open in a way that makes her look aghast.  I can understand why she would be, they are loud and whiny and I feel aghast myself.   Her eyes drift down to The Birdy's bare feet and I know it's coming, she's going to remind me that it's winter and my kid should have shoes, but she doesn't say anything, she just stares for long enough that The Birdy says, "THAT LADY IS SCARY.   SHE HAS A SCARY HEAD."  And The Bun says, "It's a mask!" and then starts screaming from fear, and the poor old lady is pretty oblivious but now she's smiling a tiny bit and I wonder if she's remembering her own whiny kids in the supermarket and how they refused to wear shoes, even outside, even in the dead of winter or how they thought broccoli was a treat.    

Then I am suddenly overwhelmingly sad about the passage of time and how old that lady is and I don't know why old people make me so sad -- it's not really even sadness, I can't explain what it is, really.  I can't think of the word.

When we get home, The Birdy has a terrible, awful hysterical tantrum about a juice box and falls off the naughty chair and does something drastic to her nose.   The Bun gets violent when a Hot Wheels track doesn't go his way.   They both cry so hard they nearly throw up and I feel helpless and dumb, like, seriously, how do people DO this?   

Some days, I'm just in awe of people whose kids wear shoes and don't scream in the aisles of Thrifty's.    

The Bun has some kind of five-year-old version of insomnia and it was particularly bad tonight.  Bedtime took 2 and 3/4s hours.   I should be working on my edit but instead, I'm eating pumpkin-shaped chocolates and drinking milk and watching home renovations on TV and researching time travel on the internet for a book that is not about time travel.    And writing a blog post, obviously.  

Sometimes I feel like I have so many balls in the air that it can't possibly be possible to keep them there and then I realize that the best work I do is when I'm lying in the dark, waiting for The Bun to drift off, and I'm not doing anything else.   No one is yelling and no one is crying and no one is even talking and no one needs any more than I'm giving them.   It's when I do my best writing and have my best plot/character breakthroughs and when I am doing the most important thing, which is making him feel safe enough that he can leave his worries behind for one more day and finally fall asleep.  

One day, he won't need this from me.   One day, I'll be the old lady in the supermarket, staring at a mum and her barefoot kids, and remembering how miraculous it was to be needed so much, all the time.

The word might be morose.   Or maudlin.   Or melancholy.   One of those m-words.   That was the one I was looking for, above.