This is me trying to remember that they're not small forever. This is me trying to remember to stay focused on success. This is me trying not to get angry that I am awake and that they are awake and that every single person in my house is still awake.
This is me trying to see the beauty in the world rather than the disaster. This is me trying to avoid the "if onlys:" if only Boy One would go to bed; if only Boy Two were already asleep.
This is the me trying not to scratch the eyeballs out of old, old women who tell me that these are the years I should treasure, these are the days I should hold close to my heart.
This is also Boy Two giggling about how funny it is that mommy is angry. This is also Boy One, overtired and unable to manage his emotions. This is also my husband, desperate for time with his woman, fully unable to successfully manage the small people in his care.
This is Sunday night, and my anger burns.
On my walk around the neighborhood, pulling Boy Two in the wonder wagon, I heard a familiar tune coming from one of the apartments. As I looked up, there was a young man in a black shirt and a black hat and khaki pants. He was poking at his phone, as we all do, and I looked at him for a moment as I tried to place the song.
"That's Korn, huh?" I asked, once I already knew the answer.
"Yeah, man," he replied.
"Do you mind if I listen for awhile?"
"No, way, man. Listen all you eant. Not too many people appreciate Korn nowadays."
"Not too many people appreciate most of what they should," I said.
We shared a moment there, listening to the sound of angry adolescence peal out of into the evening. I listened, knowing all of the words, yet strangely divorced from the meaning, slowly detaching from the world from which I and the music had come.
When the song ended, the man took his last drag from his cigarette, then smashed it down on the edge of his balcony. The remains burst into a fire-show of glorious, burning ash, and as I watched, I thanked the goodness of the Earth that I had given up that habit long ago, allowing the warm thoughts of motherhood to overwhelm me. It was like saying goodbye to myself as I slowly walked away, goodbye to life already lived, for when I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child
; but when I became grown, I put away childish things.
The breeze blew, and my anger cooled.
Farther down the block, I walked right through what appeared to be the end of a family reunion. On one side of the sidewalk was a man in his late thirty's and his beautiful wife, looking across the sidewalk at a line of similar looking family members. Children were running around everywhere, and one little girl was crying. Several people were speaking at once, talking about the South, about the heat and humidity, about how southern California is so much better than southern Arkansas.
"I agree that this is far better than Arkansas," I added, unasked. Everyone laughed, I smiled, and I kept walking.
Then, the darkness began to overcome the light, as the flags advertising my apartment complex began to rustle in the wind. I continued to walk: me, my wagon, and Boy Two, away from the noise of Boy One and his fumbling attempts to live in the world of my husband. I wished them both luck, as both of them will need it. Both of them will struggle to find and embrace their best selves when dealing with one another. When two humans are so much the same, it is hard to imagine how they will learn to get along in this life. I have yet to find a match so close to myself that when I look at her she reeks of me. As I was blessed with boys, perhaps I never will. May I now thank the universe for sparing me that particular challenge in this life. As far as I can see, I already have enough on my plate.
But as the sprinklers stopped and the Sun set I found myself back at the door of my apartment. Although I longed to remain outside, quiet and at home with the calm beauty that comes with the sunset, I know that my place is inside, inside with the man and the boys who are my family. May I find peace with them, and leave what remains of my anger outside, away from where I sleep, away from where I love. Made peace and calm pervade our home, and may it always be so.