I’m angry because even a good day with the kids can end as a hard day of being a parent. Because I fight for those closest to me, I put them first, and I still feel like I am driven into hell in the process. Because I love them so fiercely that it hurts, and their tears are my tears and my truths are their truths.
I’m angry because I am a friend, a true friend. I AM the one you can call on drink number four in the airport on your way to rehab after your family’s intervention, and I will listen to every damn slurred word and offer my condolences and love you and be right damn there for you when you come back and fight for you and defend you and take fucking sides for you and build up my enemies like walls against my progress in this life. Because I am your friend.
My loyalties are fierce and my bitterness is fiercer.
I would never beg to make plans and then cancel them. Twice. I would never rearrange my entire schedule to be absentmindedly forgotten for a snooze button. I would never let my best friend go, though she hated me off and on for years, because I knew she was meant for me, and I fucking fought for her, and I got her back, and I damn well will never lose her again. I would never say I am too busy for the person I once swore I loved as much as my husband of seventeen years.
Instead, this Saturday, we play Life. It lasts too long, he rushes us through the end, and Mythili wins (OF COURSE). We go to the park, the Perk, sip tea and nibble scones, Isabella does her interminable homework with her blue-collar Bud-Light-neon-signs-in-house best friend and my mother texts me wondering why we never ask her to come to the park since they live so close now. I offer the zoo for tomorrow and after an existential pause that lasts between two doses of learning the yoga headstand from Adriene, three piano songs played alongside my baby, and reenacting our Oxford memories with a hacky sack we toss across the living room knocking over pictures and plants, she replies with, “Your father isn’t interested in the zoo.” Though they live ten blocks from it. “Is he interested in seeing his granddaughters?” I die to text back. But I’ve learned to hold my tongue. And my fingers.
I’m angry because when I put them to bed there is a flashlight fight and search and a reminder of two nights ago. And I pull the Target bag off the top shelf and dig through the bug spray, the spare brush, the sunblock, the sweat-wicking longsleeved shirt, the set-aside items for a summer camp that’s never going to happen and find the fucking flashlights because Mythili will NOT go to bed without her book.
I’m angry because he murmurs from the room about my tenacity in setting aside these items, never to be touched between June and June and the baby going to her first summer camp this year, and because my dumb semi-drunk mouth just spills it all out in front of them: “It doesn’t matter because they’re not going to camp this year anyway since we don’t have the money.”
I’m angry because my mother sends these random texts such as: “I’m just wondering about life” and tells me about her millionaire uncle dying without a will and how tracking down his thirty-three nieces and nephews will take years as most of them don’t talk to each other and I have put nothing but Love and Love and Hugs and Cuddles into the lives of my three girls and I do NOT. Do NOT. Want to put my baby to bed crying tonight because she doesn’t even get to go to camp for her first year because I don’t have the damn money and we spent it all on a fucking car and my millionaire mom is going to inherit another thirty thousand but won’t even come to the goddamn zoo even when I offer her a free ticket.
I’m angry because I try so hard to be there. To find joy in those small moments that make up a day, like spinning them on a tire swing or singing along to Taylor Swift videos or opening up the yoga book or cuddling with our books in the corner of the couch or piling on top of each other in an array of pink to red.
And I would be there for the friends who ditch me. For the colleague who won’t even eat lunch in my presence. For any task at any job anyone would ever ask me to do.
And why can’t they? Why can’t you?
Just be there. Fucking. Be. There.