I had big plans to drop my son off at preschool and come home to a freshly brewed pot of coffee and try to write something funny, poignant and thought-provoking for this month’s KINDRED. Perhaps something about how I want to teach my biracial kids to own who they are and speak up for themselves, or the power of what can happen when we simply say hello to our neighbors. The possibilities were endless.
My daughter however, had a different plan.
We all woke up late and after a rushed scatter out the door, I knew I was doomed. From the minute we got in the car and she realized she was still in her pajamas, it was all over.
“I wanted to get dressed, mamma!”
“Babe, we are just dropping your bhaiya (Hindi for brother) off at school and then we will come straight home, you don’t need to be dressed. Look mommy is still in her pajamas!”
This didn’t prove to be a selling point for her as the cries grew louder.
This wasn’t the wax and wane type of cry. It was the full boar, piercing, bloody murder scream and it did. not. stop. First she wanted me to tie her shoe, and I obliged at the next stop light. She then proceeded to undo the laces and then was beside herself that her shoes weren’t tied. She wanted me to stop, she wanted me to go, she wanted to hold my hand, NOT THAT HAND THE OTHER HAND. Twenty loud minutes felt like an hour.
I looked over at my favorite Magnolia tree on this commute, hoping for a bit of beauty to distract me from the fact that the inside of my ears were now bleeding. Only a few wilted blossoms remained.
Maybe it’s because I knew she was safe and not actually dying, but instead of feeling worried or sympathetic, you know, normal mom reactions, I just felt mad. Sure, there was a tiny bit of guilt mixed in there but mostly just anger, as if I had zero compassion left in my reserves. I was like that Magnolia tree – clinging to the last remaining offerings for the world, knowing that one final gust would blow it all way.
And the screaming didn’t relent.
I looked down at my bra-less, slipper wearing, mess of myself and held back tears. I just wanted silence. To be in a car, without having to speak, think, comfort or rush.
I know this season won’t last forever. I know that when it’s over, I will miss it desperately in some strange way. I know that I am beyond lucky to have to life that I do, and I know that I am tired. I also know that I will show up tomorrow and do it all over again.
After all of the calming and futile versions of “I know you’re frustrated” that I could muster, I tried to coax her to silence with the promise of a hot chocolate, but the poor guy on the other side of the Starbucks drive-through microphone couldn’t hear my order through the screams. I then had to back all the way out of the winding path before another car pulled in behind me, halfway expecting the barista to call the police while I did so. Let me tell you, that was fun.
And just before I completely lost my mind, I remembered a trick that my dearest friend Jessie and I used to do when we would hear a funny noise or click in our cars, knowing that an expensive trip to the mechanic was not in the cards. We would simply turn up the music. And just like that, the radio gods smiled upon me.
“She says, we’ve got to hold on to what we’ve got
It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not
We’ve got each other and that’s a lot for love
We’ll give it a shot
Woah, we’re half way there
Woah, livin’ on a prayer
Take my hand, we’ll make it I swear
Woah, livin’ on a prayer”
The louder she got, the louder Jon Bon got. Lip synching and epic air drumming (only at stoplights of course) is medicine for the weary soul.
We came home and she had a minute with her ciuccio (Italian for pacifier) to calm down and finally came downstairs all smiles when she heard I was making her a hardboiled egg. She went into the dining room while I peeled her egg and when she walked back into the kitchen a look of horror came over her face when she saw the peeled egg in the bowl.
“You PEELED IT?!!?! B-B-BUT *sharp inhale* I *sharp inhale* wanted *sharp inhale* to *sharp inhale* PEEEEEL ITTTT!!!!!!! MAMMMMMMMMMMAAAAAAA!!”
Cue another 30 minute meltdown.
Many hugs and cuddles later, she was happy again, and I fired up my laptop only to hear, “Mamma, will you play a game with me?” laptop closed.
We had fun with Candy Land until I won. Hell hath no fury like a Niranjan kid who looses at a board game. I, now officially out of blossoms, left her in her pile of tears telling her I loved her and she should come get me if she needed me, but I couldn’t listen to her scream anymore. I ran up the stairs, stubbing my toe on the way, and here we are.
She finally (and begrudgingly) huffed up into my room a few minutes later, still sobbing, and curled up on the bed with her beloved ciuccio. She fell peacefully asleep – five minutes before we needed to leave to pick up her brother. Sigh.
At least I had a second to put on a bra. But first, earplugs.
Marissa B. Niranjan has recently perfected the art of backing up out of drive-throughs under pressure, and now she feels like she can do anything.