March 24, 2020
You’d never know that the world is at a standstill that we’re all in the discomfort of change, that each house with children on our block is suddenly louder and messier, each thrown into this disorganized Tuesday (is it Tuesday? was St. Patrick’s day only just a week ago?)
You’d never know that in the country anxiety is palpable, it’s in the air, in our lungs. Our lungs that we are all so afraid of infecting. They say it’s like glass when it’s bad. That breathing hurts.
These are all things you’d never know, if you were in my house this morning, waking up to giant, jumping-onto-you-in-bed hugs from our now nine-year-old and blueberry pancakes in all shapes – cats, turtles, bunnies, a coffee mug. Our yard filled with snow as we slept and now it’s warm in the sun and kids are playing with the dog, frolicking in the bright white morning.
Nine years ago, contractions started shortly after Vinnie left for work and by lunchtime, I was grimacing through making sandwiches for the children. It was too early, we weren’t prepared, but that has always been the way with Evaline. She’s a head-first, all in, what-are-you-waiting-for personality.
An hour ago, we went to the grocery store, she and Rowan and I, and as we walked across the parking lot, squinting at the brightness of the sun, the reflections on melting puddles of snow on asphalt, I reminded them not to touch anything.
What about the air? Evie teased.
Or the ground? Rowan followed.
Yes, the air and the ground are fine, I sighed before remembering all at once, it’s a birthday, a lighthearted day, a happy day, and added, just don’t lick the ground, with a grin. I breathed their giggles into my soul.
Nine years ago, I had to push to be admitted to the labor unit after a dizzying hour-long drive, speeding down to the hospital where my three other babies were born. Too early, they told me. You’ll be fine after we give you a shot.
I knew my body, knew how it felt when it was time (and it was time). I let them lay me down and give me the shot, but I knew.
Now we’ve unpacked groceries and washed our hands (multiple times) and baked a cake, the girls and I. Tonight we’ll have dinner as a household and Evie will have the cake she baked but won’t blow out any candles. For some reason, this realization is idling in my brain. It’s such a small thing, literally a puff of air and twists of smoke. Of all the big things we’ve let go or been forced to change this month, it’s this little one that feels like a bruise I forgot I had. Oh, right. This is where we are now.
Nine years ago, we had our life as a family of six kickstarted by my bold and impatient daughter insisting on arriving on her own terms.
She is a whirlwind, still.
Just now, she and Rowan turned the cooled cakes from their pans, unwilling to wait for help. One broke apart, another is on my dishwasher (without a dish).
It’ll still taste good, she told me with a shrug and while dragging the stool across the kitchen floor to reach the containers of frosting in the cupboard.
I don’t know how anything else will end up this week, this month, this season, but I do know my daughter. And, she’s right.