Know what I’m not good at, besides rollerskating, wiffle ball, knife-skills, and deep frying? Owning things. As an owner of things, I earn a complete and epic fail. Go straight to Jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.00.
Take for instance, my car, okay, less car more Dodge minivan (oh sweetbabyjesus save me now). It has, since the day I cracked open the dual sliding doors, smelled like 2-day old hamster shavings (don’t ask me how or why. I don’t know!)
Or take my glasses….OH! So it was you who took my glasses!! I haven’t been able to find them for the last 4 hours, and here I was thinking I’d misplaced them when you had them all the…..crap. Nevermind. I have them. They’re on top of my head.
Or, or, my house. I love my house. I REALLY love my house. Love like we were separated at birth love. It’s what Goldilocks would say is juuuuuussssstttttt right. The right size. The right colour. The right neighborhood. The right rightness (never mind that the old fella that lived here before died in it and had to be removed rigor-stiff, with no Will, leaving crazy-ass relatives locked in probate for 3 solid years to get a piece of my little heaven), I love it.
But I hate owning it.
Owning something suggests responsibility toward it: you care for it. Look out for it’s future. Have hopes and dreams for it. Oh Lord. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.
Just give me one little sec (and some Listerine) while I regroup.
I’m not an owner. Just the idea scares me. I don’t own jewelry…too much responsibility. I don’t own art…what if I tripped and spilled coffee–alright smartass, Scotch! What if I tripped and spilled Scotch on it. I don’t own fancy cars, I don’t own lake front property, I don’t own designer dresses. Hell, I don’t own more than one bra! It’s just too much responsibility.
Now I know that doesn’t make any sense. I am now and have been for more than 26 years responsible for lives–human lives! Yet here I am: a reluctant mom. A reluctant wife. A reluctant home owner.
Okay…take a breath (and yes, I’m talking to you). I did not explicitly say, nor did I imply in the previous sentence that I was unhappy or unwilling in any of those endeavors. In fact, I jumped in merrily, eyes wide open, and with both feet. What I am is reluctant and poop-inducing scared.
Let me explain what I mean: the other night was I night I was looking forward to for weeks. My delightful, truly wonderful husband had an over night, out-of-town business trip. Lord! The glory of sleeping, diagonally, in a king-sized bed with no one (except me) rolling themselves burrito-like in the blankets or snoring like a hibernating grizzly sang to me like Adele Dazeem. I had the entire night planned out and it was breathtaking.
I executed my plan, with CIA-like precision: kids, in bed. Wine, chilled and at the ready. Sheets crisp. Blankets turned down. Classic novel, open and ready. Clothes, off and piled on the floor (ooooooh, too much information, sorry ’bout that).
I crawled into bed, book and beverage at the ready. It was glorious.
What was that? What the Hell was that?! Oh! Lighten up dan (that’s what I call myself when I’m talking to myself, dan, and yes, always with a lower case ‘d’) it’s just the house going to sleep.
So I went back to my book and beverage combination. Until. Until the water ran through the pipes, a motorcycle raced down a nearby street, a cat howled outside somewhere within my hearing, a 10-year old bellowed at her brother in her sleep. And each time I jumped like a 4-year old chocolate addict at Easter.
I decided the best course of action was to, of course, polish off the bottle of wine and top it off with a night cap of muscle relaxants (stop judging!). As I was drifting off to sleep, something startled me. I don’t know what it was…but I was suddenly wide and suddenly completely awake and absolutely terrified. And it was just after my heart decided to settle back near the upper middle of my chest that I realized that what I wanted more than anything was to know that if something was going to happen, I had someone there to protect me.
But, (oh that awful but!) but, it dawned on me in the very next moment, I didn’t have that: I was that. I realized that when my beautiful kids wake up scared in the night, they fall back asleep in the knowledge that if something is happening I’ll protect them.
I’m the safety net.
How did that happen?! I can’t even use kitchen knives safely!
So here I am. Responsible for people, responsible for property, responsible for myself, and it’s a strange and scary place to be. I wonder: do other parents feel this way? Do they long, like me, for their mom to bring them baby aspirin and a cool cloth for their forehead when they’re sick rather than dragging themselves out of bed to tend a sick and sticky child? Do they long to wake up from a bad dream and fall back asleep in the knowledge that someone will protect them no matter what?
Maybe. Maybe not. But in the end, it doesn’t matter. I’m here, at the front, at the head of a family. A loud, raucous, maddening family. And I love them, each and every one of them. And maybe that’s enough, even when I’m scared. Because while responsibility may not come easy to me, it comes. And as long as I get to bring them a little comfort, I’m okay with it…just, please don’t let me near the knives, ’cause if you do, all bets are off…asking me to mince something just puts everyone (and their digits) at risk.