Some of you seem to think that I am this wise and serene lady, unruffled and gliding along on a lake that is mirror-calm. Yes, that is a part of who I am, and I am always happy when she shows up, but I don’t think I will ever get over being surprised when she does. I think if she showed up more often, I would be closer to being the woman that Heaven has in mind for me to be. Or maybe if I let her have her say more often, when she does show up.
She gets a lot of competition. There is a four-year-old inside of me, the part that wants ice cream, and wants it five minutes ago, and what do you mean you are out of German chocolate? It has been more than half a century since I was four, so I don’t remember if I liked being four, or not. I do remember that I did not particularly enjoy the years when each of my girls was four, though I loved them none the less for their fourness.
Seven was hard for me, too. I was seven when I got chicken pox, and the hard measles, with a high, high fever, and I had to sit in the dark and they wouldn’t let me read, and I found out later that Mom was afraid I would get measles encephalitis. Seven is a transitional year for Primary kids (I was not one); it is the year before we baptize our children, and it must be difficult to find oneself struggling more and more with temptation as one approaches the age of accountability.
All I remember is that I had a seven-year-old and a two-year-old, twice, and I was sliding into that dark tunnel which became eight years of episodic depression, and it was Not Fun. If I could have a do-over, I would have gotten good and mad at the children’s father for not being able to figure out how to keep a job, ten years sooner than I did, and maybe he would have gotten his act to gether, and maybe he would not have had the strokes, and maybe I would not be sitting here on the cusp of 60, trying to make up my mind whether to fall in love for what I most devoutly hope is the final time.
Eleven wasn’t much fun. I wasn’t visibly starting to develop, but there was just enough new me to be uncomfortable doing jumping jacks or side straddle hops, whatever you want to call them. [Not more than a thimbleful of cranky skin on either side of mid-line, and they didn’t really make training bras that size, but that was all that I needed for about the next six years, and then whomp! Zero to underwire in one long hot summer.] Eleven is another transitional year for church kids; it’s the year before they go into Young Women or Young Men. I had my last baby when Firstborn was 11, just at the age when she was old enough to be embarrassed that her parents were Still Doing That. At their ages. Ewww!
I don’t even want to talk about the fourteen-year-old. She won’t hang up her clothes, and she doesn’t think she should have to do the dishes, and all she wants to do is wear cute clothes and kiss boys. Thankfully, thankfully nobody wanted her when I was fourteen, or I would have fifty bajillion kids by now, one or two by each of the cute lead singers in all the bands I liked, not to mention the creepier guys I had crushes on at school (because the good guys I had crushes on, to all appearances had their minds on their grades). I was fourteen when I got the hard measles again, a medical rarity, and strep throat for the first time, and a particularly nasty case of the flu that altered my biochemistry in such a way that I am forevermore exiled from NeverTootsLand.
It was so hard not to laugh when one daughter or the other would cry, “You just don’t understand!” Because oh honey, I most certainly did. The four-year-old, and the seven-year-old, and the eleven-year-old, and the fourteen-year-old are all still very much a part of me. They have been joined by others: the twenty-three-year-old divorcée and the forty-five-year-old divorcée, and the fifty-four-year-old who got her heart broken, and the one who turns fifty-eight next Saturday and thinks that maybe she has finally gotten it right.
Maybe. And is trying to get the fourteen-year-old to just please hush and let her think. You see la la la, silver wake following the duck in the pond, and a fine looking drake preening on the bank. I feel my feet paddling like ninety, stirring up all sorts of memories under the surface, and maybe there is a carp lurking in the depths, just waiting to grab one webbed foot and have me for lunch.
- Five years into widowhood, after one year of incredible happiness and nearly 14 years of single blessedness. Have given up perfect manicures and pretty hands in order to resume playing the soprano recorder and to see if I can figure out how to play bluegrass banjo. Singing in the shower. Still really, *really* love to knit!