Liam: “What movie are we watching tonight?”
Caolinn: “Mean Girls.”
Liam: “Can we start it now, before dinner?”
Caolinn: “No, I want to wait until it’s dark.”
Liam: (pause) “It has to be dark? How mean ARE these girls!?”
Liam: “That’s NOT fair! I’ve only JUST gotten big enough to sit up front, and you can’t take it every time! We should take turns!”
Caolinn: “I’m leaving home in two years, and then you can sit up here whenever you want!”
Liam: “I’m not waiting TWO YEARS! It’s not fair!”
Caolinn: “You know what isn’t fair? That I have to have a period every month, and someday, I’m going to have to push a baby out of my vagina…that’s what’s NOT fair!”
Liam: “Mom, she’s pulling the uterus card again!”
Last night, something unexpected happened.
On my way to bed, I went to check on the twins, as I always do, and as I brushed the hair away from Xavier’s face, in the dim light, there was a glimpse of his father in his profile. It certainly wasn’t the first time I’ve noticed the similarity in the jawline, but for some reason, for the first time, it gave me pause and made me unspeakably sad.
I thought…Do you see this perfect boy? He is kind and affectionate and honest and generous and loving and horribly sweet. He gives his allowance to homeless people and sneaks cat food out of the house to feed the strays behind the baseball field. He speaks up for social justice and civil rights, and has gone toe-to-toe with bullies to protect others. His heart bleeds so much that I am both unspeakably proud of him, and I worry about the effect it will have on him that he cares so deeply. He is so damn smart and funny, and he works so hard. He’s respectful to both authority and peers. He loves his family with a crazy fervor, and he has no shame in showing it. He is a million wonderful things.
And he’s nothing like you. He might look a little like you, but he’s nothing like you.
And for the first time, I was struck that instead of being grateful that my son was nothing like his father, I was struck with sadness, because his father could have been all those things…but he wasn’t.
In that moment, I realized that my ex-husband was once a little boy, just like my little boy. He was healthy and handsome, and probably looked just like this when he slept, with his face still and his hair mussed. He had things my son will never have; he had a reserve of family money and societal advantages. He was never told they couldn’t afford something. He had educational opportunities, vacations, and social connections that boggle the mind.
But, what he didn’t have, was a sober parent. He didn’t get hugged or kissed or cuddled. He never had to struggle to earn something, or work very hard. He was never appropriately disciplined or told “no”. He was never bathed, fed, or tucked in by someone who wasn’t paid to put up with him. He never spent a night, on the couch with his mother and siblings, all under one blanket, watching movies, penniless but feeling like the luckiest, richest people alive, because they were together and warm.
Yes, this man has done terrible, terrible things to me and my children, but in that one quiet moment in the dark, my heart broke for him, because he could have been so much more than he became. He could have been like his son.
Whence your 16-year-old texts you from class…
Caolinn: Can I get my belly button pierced next winter? Pleeeeeease?
Me: Shouldn’t you be in class? WTH is going on at that school?
Caolinn: I’m in choir. It’s a joke class.
Me: Well, I think we’ve established why you have a B.
Caolinn: She’s literally spelling out choir terms. She just spelled singing. Would you be mad if I jumped out a second story window to get out of this, because she just spelled ‘choir’?
Me: They’re your legs, but I’m not wiping your ass for you, so take that into consideration.
Caolinn: She just spelled ‘soprano’. WTF!?
Me: Mark my words…’alto’ is next. Wait for it.
Me: I think we can agree that no one is winning in this scenario.
Caolinn now has a boyfriend. The parents wanted to meet me, and I, of course, have been wanting to meet him and them, so we were scheduled to go over there, this morning. Truly, the kid couldn’t be a nicer kid, and his parents seem terribly sweet, so, we got lucky on this one.
Ryan: So, how did the whole meet and greet go?
Me: As we were driving over, I said, “Well….time to meet the in-laws.”
Ryan: Was she horrified?
Me: No, she smiled…so now, I’m horrified.
It should come as no surprise that Ryan and I are lapsed Catholics. I’m 90% sure if we stepped across the threshold of a church, that flames would erupt.
Ryan: You going to church?
Me: Why would I go to church? In the middle of the week?
Ryan: It’s Ash Wednesday.
Me: Ohhhhhhh…that. No, I don’t want schmutz on my head. I’m going to Costco, though. Need anything?
Ryan: Costco instead of church. What would Jesus say?
Me: He’d say ‘Don’t buy the giant thing of chicken salad, again, you’ll never finish it.’.
Ryan: What would your grandmother say?
Me: She’d say I was going to hell…and to ignore Jesus and get the chicken salad, so she can score half of it.