Saturday, April 16, 2005

Three Ducks in a Puddle and More

Please, come back with me in time. Look around. It's Friday, 2:50 a.m. Babygirl wakes you from a dead sleep. Crying? What is that noise? Crying? You stumble from bed and pluck a distressed girl from her crib. You turn off the light and sit for ten minutes, rocking Babygirl. Then you return her to her crib.

Back to bed. You fall into bed, exhausted. You have resumed your walking program, remember? The alarm will ring at 5:10 a.m. You reach over and click the alarm off and doze to the sound of pouring rain. Babygirl wakes again at 6:20 a.m. This time, you bring her back to bed and you both sleep again until the phone rings at 7:42 a.m. You are still in bed because DaycareKid and CuteBaby aren't coming today. You deserve a break.

So you say, "Hello?" in a voice that sounds as sleepy are you are. Your Texan mother-in-law, the one who rises every morning by 6:00 a.m., the one who cannot remember that you live in a time-zone two hours behind Texas-time, she says, "Are you still sleeping?" as if you have committed a crime.

You admit to your slothfulness and don't bother to offer an excuse. She needs to know if you cashed the birthday check she sent in February. You assume you did--have you ever been known not to cash a check?--but you tell her you'll investigate and let her know.

Even though you had sleep, interrupted, it's still Friday and it's your twin boys' birthday. They are twelve. You had them do all their schoolwork the day before, so they are taking the day off from school. Your plan:

1) Cash check at bank.
2) Hand over $100 to each boy. "Happy birthday! You get this in lieu of a birthday party and gift!"
3) Drop off film at Costco, one-hour developing, please.
4) Arrive at Red Robin for birthday lunch promptly at 11:00 a.m.
5) Drive boys to Toys R Us so they can spend their money. Be surprised that they each only buy a GameBoy game.
6) Purchase a new dolly and carseat for Babygirl. Notice how cute she is, how thankful she is.
7) Return to Costco. Pick up film and stand in extremely long line to buy cake, meatballs, granola bars.
8) Stop by GameCrazy so TwinBoyB can buy "DonkeyKonga." While the twins go into the store (park right outside the door), have Babygirl pee in an empty Taco Bell cup. Don't forget to pour it into the grass so it doesn't spill in your used van. Babygirl will beg to pee in cups for the next few days, but you saved yourself from having to take her into the Hollywood Video public bathroom.)
9) Go home. Nap with Babygirl.
10) Pick up YoungestBoy from school while Babygirl still sleeps and twin boys play video games. They are 12, you will only be gone 5 minutes. Don't worry. Be happy.

And on the way, at the very beginning of your adventure, please take note of the three ducks--one mallard, two dull brown females--which are sitting at the edge of the busy road, filling up a small puddle with their duckness. Wonder if the ducks are lost. Point out ducks to kids, but kids won't see them. Wonder if perhaps those were decoys and if you are hallucinating.

Your husband normally picks up YoungestBoy and NeighborBoy, but today, he's in Seattle, visiting a child at the Children's Hospital. When he returns home, say, "How was it?" and hear him say, "He died about thirty minutes before I arrived."

Oh. Stop. Blink. Breathe. Shake your head.

The child, an only child, a five year old child of a mother who is now expecting her second child, this child died from a blood disease of some sort. Try to sort out the details and promise yourself that you'll google "spleen, attack red blood cells," to try to figure out what exactly the boy died from. Try not to imagine your own blond son dead. Stop yourself everytime you hear yourself say, "You are driving me crazy!" Rebuke yourself each time you think, "I am so sick of picking up after these KIDS!" Wonder if you'd survive if one of your kids did not. Stop wondering how that other mother handles walking into her absent boy's bedroom, how she can bear to look at his stuffed animals and boy-toys.

But before you can think too much, you must take YoungestBoy to the school for a "Beach Party." Stand near a wall and be grateful when a dad you know chats with you. Shout loudly so he can hear you. Smile as a mom you know approaches. Shout loudly to her, too. Watch your son--your healthy, alive son--as he tries to hula-hoop and laugh out loud. Wonder why the temperature in the multi-purpose room is always set so high that beads of sweat glisten on your upper lip. Be relieved when your son is ready to leave after an hour of beach music and red-faced children running berserk.

Sleep in this morning as late as you can, even if it involves tucking Babygirl into bed next to you. She won't sleep. But you can give her a snack and crawl back between the flannel sheets and listen to the rain and doze while she plays. Shower late. While husband goes to meet with the family of the deceased child, putter around. Clean off the kitchen counter, put recyclables into the new bin, fold some laundry, relocate a table and bookshelf, make lunch. Stay busy.

When your husband walks through the door, he'll say one sentence, "There goes Vegas." He was going to meet his college buddies in Las Vegas for the weekend, leaving next Thursday. The guys have been getting together annually for quite a few years, but he's never been able to afford the time or money to go. He's looking forward to seeing his old friends. But the funeral for the boy is Friday.

You are as disappointed as he is because after being married this long, you truly want him to be happy. Struggle, though there is no point. That family lost their son. The family must fly in from Germany. Your husband didn't mention his cancelled four day trip to them. It's his job to comfort people in their time of loss.

But you can feel a little annoyed, if you keep the annoyance isolated from the rest of your more responsible, grown-up response. The timing sucks. Your husband rocks.

Now, it's 1:00 p.m. and he suggests that you get out of the house for a few hours. Off you go (no need to tell you twice) and as you drive toward the freeway, you spot those crazy three ducks, sitting in their make-shift home, the puddle. It's not even big enough for them all to sit in it at the same time and they certainly can't float in an inch of water. Where do they live? Why did they claim that puddle? Think about the ducks all afternoon.

Wonder if you are a duck in a puddle. Is some part of your life a ridiculous compromise? Do you limit yourself because you claimed the first puddle you saw? Is there a pond around the bed? Just over the trees? Do you stay at a puddle just because your friends decided to stay?

Think that maybe you are insane because you see everything--ducks in a puddle--as a possible metaphor for life.

Realize while you are shopping that your right gold hoop earring is missing. Remind yourself to check your pillow before you sleep tonight.

Shop. Shop. Shop. In this order: Once Upon a Child (consignment shop--buy Babygirl's summer wardrobe for $17), Value Village (purchase old Fisher Price cash register with decals intact, still containing six plastic coins for $3.99, three books, a leopard print comforter for church Vacation Bible School this summer), Famous Footwear (buy YoungestBoy, owner of the World's Stinkiest Shoes, two new pair for $50 total), Fred Meyer (groceries).

As you drive toward home, notice the strip club advertising some XXX "star." Do a double-take when you see a man standing outside his Hummer, grabbing at dollars the wind is whipping into a tornado of cash. Slow down and crane your neck, then do a u-turn so you can drive by and look again. Laugh when you see him clutching a handful of bills. He looks so frantic. Is he the owner? How did he drop a bundle of cash? Think again what a metaphor this is--the money swirling in the parking lot, the man in a panic, chasing his dollars.

Return home promptly at 5:00 p.m. and let the children create their own sub sandwiches.

You are almost done! Bathtime, bedtime routine with Babygirl, read a chapter of "Pride and Prejudice" while Babygirl watches "Spongebob Squarepants" . . . can you still catch a movie? Alas, you cannot. Bad timing. But now you can help out your husband and type his sermon. Good thing you type so quickly. You have enough time to blog about ducks and funerals.

Aren't weekends restful?


Blogger Mike said...

I just stumbled on your blog from a post you made at Ro's. Great blog. Loved every word of it.

If we sat down every day and made a list of what we did we'd be astonished. Not just what we did but what we saw, did, felt, said, didn't say or wish we hadn't. :)

5:19 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I think you have your ducks in a row and that beats trying to herd cats.

6:01 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

5 Wows. Again.

If you are like me, you will never forget those ducks.

My husband and I stayed on Grand Traverse Bay a few years back. While driving the highway near the water we came upon a pair of ducks, one with a recently injured wing. It was obvious that the other duck did not know what to do.

I knew exactly how it felt. What do you do when your mate is hurt and there is nothing you can do to help?

I think of those two ducks all the time. I wonder what happen to them.

10:51 AM  
Blogger Lisha said...

You are my wife's soul friend. We stumbled across your site while searching for a book called the "Birth book." We started reading and just laughing so hard we couldn't stop. I'm a pastor in Texas, we have a 2 yr boy and 6 yr girl. My wife grew up in Tacoma and her family is still there. In fact, she was out there just a month ago for her great grandma's funeral.

Anyway, it's nice to see my wife's face as she reads your blogs. I can see how much she enjoys just knowing that there are other moms who go through the same stuff she goes through.

12:11 PM  
Blogger blueyedtracy said...

I also just recently came accross your blog and I am loving it! Your phrase "life without airbrushing" is so refreshing . . .especially as one who attended a christian collge, and church, and tried to have a marriage with much "airbrushing" taking place - or at least the attempt to believe I actually was the image I was trying to project. No more . . .I have a marriage that is very imperfect and we now attend a 'non-airbrushing' church and it's amazing to me how much happier (and sane!) I feel, even in the midst of some pretty tough life circumstances. The airbrushing "yoke" can be a heavy load to carry . .. especially in comparison to the lighter yoke of Christ. Enough of my rambling. . . your writing is great and I'll be reccommending you to a pastor's wife friend of mine.

1:41 PM  
Blogger Carla said...


I just wanted to let you know, you're a real blessing to me.

I'm still laughing about babygirl and the cup, I can so relate to that sort of thing.

7:26 PM  
Blogger Gina said...


You are a wonderful wife and mother. Really you are, and you cannot tell me to shut up! :)

I have never met him, but based on your descriptions, your husband does indeed rock.


11:15 PM  
Blogger WordsRock said...

Beautiful family, beautiful mom, beautiful prose.


6:20 AM  
Blogger Square1 said...

Sometimes I woner if I'm a duck that settled on a puddle, with a pond just around the bend... but don't we all. Sometimes we just have t trust that we are indeed somehow fulfilling our purpose even though we have our doubts. You husband does indeed sound wonderfl from everything I've read here... and fro everything I've read... he has a wonderful wife too. You're an inspiration Mel.. to more than you are aware of.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Christi said...

Your husband does rock. I know I could never do what he does for a living. At least not the part you talked about today.

TJ got up from a "nap" the other day that he took for about three minutes (I'm sure he slept very well). He came out of his room and said, "I had a good nap." I thought of you guys!

2:27 PM  

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