with Karli Larson
The transition from stay-at-home mom to divorced-and-working-full-time mom can be challenging, and sometimes very lonely. Throw in a few cats, an ancient dog and one very brave boyfriend, and life gets downright crazy. Join me as I talk through my thoughts and struggles, my miscalculations and my triumphs. We're in this together, you and I.
When I'm not writing here you can find me over at work on the TisBest Philanthropy blog.
Or I am getting better at forgetting to bother remembering.
I cannot tell you what happened last Mother’s Day, or on the Mother’s Day before that.
This Mother’s Day morning, it does not occur to me to wonder what came before. I simply lie in my cool cotton sheets and listen.
Downstairs: the girls’ excited voices, the clink of plates, the slam of the refrigerator door, the laugh of a man who is not their father. I hear him chatting amiably with his giggling sous chefs. There is a touch of the South in his resonant voice, a flavor still unfamiliar to me.
I turn my head sideways, close my eyes, and smile into the softness of a pillow.
This is what is, now.
“How much do you remember about when you were a kid?” Sophie asks at bedtime. We are lying in her loft bed, the safest place.
“Some things,” I say. “But I’m amazed by how much I can’t remember. A lot of it just…goes away. There are entire years that are almost gone. I have no idea what I did, how the days passed.”
She considers this. “That’s sad.”
“It is, some,” I agree. “Maybe our brains aren’t meant to hold it all, though. Maybe we only keep what we need.”
“I can’t imagine not remembering.” She shakes her head, dismayed that today, yesterday, last week, could ever vanish.
“I couldn’t imagine not remembering, then. When I was a kid. Life is funny, that way.”
She leans her head against my shoulder. We stare at the white ceiling, an arm’s length away from me, an arm and a half away from her. She has said before that she remembers her father made pancakes the morning we told them we were divorcing. She has told me that she will never forgive her father and me for this idiotic gaffe, for connecting sweet goodness with something so terrible.
The Mother’s Day feast is laid before me on my low dresser beside my bed. The three chefs have prepared fruit salad, chocolate-chip pancakes, scrambled eggs with cheese, a breakfast smoothie with blueberries, strawberry yogurt and chocolate ice cream, and, of course, coffee. All four of us pile on the bed. Two dogs and one cat join us. Another cat stands guard from her position atop a discarded twin boxspring, end up, in the hallway.
I watch the new bond, finding its footing. He is easy, with them. He neither presumes nor assumes, and they appreciate this. The three of them tell me tales of this morning’s secret food preparation, explain the choice of ingredients, grin as I ask for seconds. This is our now.
Sophie gives me her card when she and I are alone.
The cover of Sophie’s card reads: “This way for love —>” Inside, she has written, “When I was 3, you were there when I needed a band aid. When I was 7, you helped make fun ways to remember my spelling words. Now I am 10 and you help deal with silly little things like flip flops, because you are allways there for me. And for that, you desurve everything good that the world has to offer and more. Thank you! Love, Sophie.”
I hug her tightly to me, as tightly as she will allow at 10, when touch is beginning to prickle, to chafe her. She submits.
There are four stick figures on her card, each with a heart over its head. He has short, spiky hair and a big grin. His figure stands a bit to the side, watching the three of us.
“You included him in the picture,” I say. “That’s really sweet.”
“Of course I did,” she says. “He’s family now.”
I study her face. She watches me, watching her. Her younger sister remembers little of what came before, once. But Sophie and I could remember, if we wanted to.
Today, though, we agree to not remember. This is what the world has to offer, today, and that is good enough, again.
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