Monday, August 5, 2013


I had plans for yesterday. They involved the 20 pound case of peaches which is, at this moment, still sitting on the kitchen floor. They were beautiful plans, involving jam, and maybe some more fruit leather. Maybe canned sliced peaches. And then, life happened.

Today is my eldest daughter's 9th birthday, and there is no one here but the four of us and my mother. And there will be no one else for a couple of weeks. Why? We have grade-school-plague. Yup, you got it. Lice. Lice that I discovered at about 10 o'clock yesterday morning. I know where we got them from, but I'm naming no names, because it happens to almost everyone at some point.

If my house didn't look like a bomb had gone off before, it certainly does now. My couch is covered in clean sheets, my laundry room is knee deep in bedding, clothes, and stuffed animals, and the steam washer and steam drier have been running non-stop. Between my mother and I, we have vacuumed at least five times. After that, every hard surface in the house got a coating of diatomaceous earth. I know this is overkill. I know. But my whole body just itches, even though I was given a clean head of health, as it were. None the less, I sat covered in rubbing alcohol and topped with a disposable shower cap just like the rest of the family. Why take chances? And then there were the phone calls to nearly everyone we know. “Hi, I'm just calling to tell you we may have given you parasites.” Yeah. That was fun. Luckily, the infection seems to be limited to us.

And the more I vacuumed, shoveled laundry into the wash, and installed dust, the crankier I got. I had plans darn it, and my peaches were in heaven only knows what condition. I hadn't even managed to open the box and check them after Shawn got them home from the farmer's market. The crankier I got, the more miserable I got, all the while thinking to myself, “Wow, that's a lot of fuss over some peaches.” Only, you know, it wasn't about the peaches at all. My baby is turning 9. WAY too fast. And I know it's cliché, but I just can't cope. My time with her is half way over today. And after watching my mother try to cope with my brother moving half way across the country to attend a PhD program this week, I have a rather vivid idea of what is coming my way. It's a good thing for your children to go off and fly into the world. I know this. I have every reason to be proud of my daughter's independence. Just like I have every reason to be proud of my little brother. But it just stinks. There's nothing about it that doesn't stink for me. This is why people get dogs. And yes, I'm still feeling cranky about it. And raw.

So, last night, mom and I got tipsy and played cribbage. My ideas about a good time may seem a little pedestrian, I know, but it had been a long darned day. Besides, math, brain damage, and alcohol are a pretty entertaining combination, never mind shuffling the cards. Being able to laugh at yourself can be a balm to the soul.

I find myself so pulled in so many different directions. I can't wait until my children are grown and gone, my house quiet. I'm also dreading it more than death. The same struggle is taking place on a smaller time scale as well. I can't wait until they go back to school, and I can get a few hours of peace and quiet. And I really really want them to stop growing up so fast. I want the days to slow down some. Here it is, stone fruit season already, and those peaches sit in my kitchen like an armed bomb, reminding me how fast the summer has gone by. In just over 3 weeks Jason will get on a bus, and I won't see him for almost 8 hours. It's a new chapter in our life. I'm just not ready for that. And I can't wait.

But no matter how I feel about it, life marches on. This morning we had a much quieter celebration than usual. Tonight we'll have Susan's favorite dessert, peanut butter cookies, and in the meantime my kids are spending a quiet day playing with legos. In a few moments I will get up and start in on my peaches. And I will try to process this tangle inside me, to restore my emotional balance so that I can once more do the most important job on earth. To wit, teaching another human being to fly into their own life, while living my own.

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