Sunday, March 11, 2012


I am looking forward to moving in with my mother. It's unbelievable. My mother is a wonderful woman, but she is the person who thought I could do nothing right for the first forty years of my life. I've been able to spend a lot of time with her over the past few years (thank you, God), and I feel now we could get along, just the two of us. But it isn't just me. I'm dragging along my husband, two daughters, and our small dog, and the six of us will be piled into my mother's three bedroom condo for five or six months. And I'm the only one who is delusional enough to look forward to it.

My husband is easy to get along with, as long as he has baseball, good food, time to himself to wander around the city, and time to go to the ocean and sit in relative solitude on the beach. My older daughter is a teenager, and as far as I'm concerned she is easy to get along far as teenagers go. She requires a willingness to listen to her chatter, her teen angst, and her singing (and her singing isn't bad). She has her moods, but so do we all.

My younger daughter demands dessert, movies, trips to Chuck E. Cheese, chewing gum, toys, play dates, and constant attention. What she really demands is an ocean of patience. The moment she thinks the world is not marching to her tune, she lifts up her voice and stretches out of the floor. She will be heard.

Last night, for example, I asked her to show me her watch, the watch we gave her for her ninth birthday. She yelled, "Noooo...." and ran to her room and locked the door. I stood outside and commanded her to let me in with as calm and firm a tone as I could muster. She cracked the door and then grudgingly stepped aside to let me enter.

"Your watch?" I held out my hand.

Witty a long suffering sigh, she thrust it at me.

"Can you set it?" I asked. "Can you pull it out of the band?"

She pulled it out and handed it to me. She had calmed down enough to watch me fiddle with the knob.

"What are you doing?" she wanted to know, as I turned the hands forward one hour.

"We're springing forward," I told her. I proceeded to show her how I set our bedroom clock radio forward. I don't know whether she got the concept, but in the end she danced away, secure in the notion that I was not going to confiscate her watch. Somehow I had gotten through the intractable moment and reached her.

My older daughter came over to me later and gave me a hug. "Do we really have to move over to Nana's?" she asked quietly in my ear. "I'm not going to any space all to myself."

I held her close. "We're going to have to work on that," I whispered back. "We're going to have to be creative."

Our small dog has started watching us apprehensively, as we sort, toss, and pack our stuff. Having had her crate and pillow washed and having suffered through a bath, she suspects some unknown, and therefore fearful, change. Deprived of a place to curl up with all her comforts in the wash, she sat wagging at my feet, a low whine rising in her throat. I let her jump in my lap and rubbed her ears while I read the paper.

After the girls had gone to bed, my husband sat swiveling thoughtfully in his office chair. "How are we all going to get along over there?" he wondered, his voice heavy with pessimism.

I leaned over, squeezed his shoulders, and didn't answer. I don't know how we are all going to get along over there. I imagine our tempers will fray and our personalities will rub uncomfortably against each other. I'm sure I will have moments of despair that those I love best will be more than I can handle. Yet I know I have some important life lessons waiting for me, and I might as well ready myself for the challenge. Delusional? Maybe. But at least I'm not running and hiding.

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