Forbidden wishes, we all have them. They are thoughts we regret the moment we think them. They sneak out from under our filter of civility, along with fantasies of being locked inside a bookstore or Dairy Queen overnight or prescription bedrest. They are especially torturous to a mother because of the duality of truths they represent, inciting guilt and relief in equal measures. Here are my top five:
What are the odds that while I’m at work, teaching kindergarten, in the middle of a lock-down drill (the first one of the year, the first one of these kindergarteners’ lives) when we are supposed to hide silently in a darkened classroom, assuaging the fears of five-year-olds against the unlikely yet possible scenario of a bad guy coming to kill them, that my mother would call? Not just call, but text and email as well?
The odds are high.
Usually, my phone is off and tucked away to preclude this very thing, but for the twenty-minute lock-down drill, we were told to keep them accessible. My mom had a twenty-minute window and, like a diviner following her rod to water, she unearthed an opening and wriggled right in. Her text said, “Hi, it’s Mom. I just tried to call and tell you I sent you an email. Call me when you read it.”
My first thought is: I wish she wouldn’t call me so much. I don’t mean this, I love my mother. My friend who recently lost her mom to ovarian cancer would be appalled by my flippancy. My co-worker whose mom lives in Poland would never understand. My own mother would be crushed by my irritation at...what? Being thought of throughout the day? How burdensome, indeed.
My daughter had a growth spurt of epic proportions this past fall. Up until then, she grew at a steady, predictable rate. A size a year, just like pediatricians and the garment industry suggests. At age four, she wore size 4, at age six, she wore a 6-6x, at seven, she fit into 7-8s and wore them for another year. What a freak, right?
Then, all of a sudden, her pants looked obscenely tight and the hems dangled above her ankles. Her toes poked actual holes in the ends of her shoes and her winter coat left half her forearm exposed. Underwear? All of it was too small. Socks? Put them on the Build-a-Bear. It’s a good thing leggings are forgiving, because she grew faster than I could shop for new clothes.
I thought, Child, I wish you would slow it down for a while! At least until I can take you to the store. Then I took it back immediately. If a dear friend of mine heard my wish, she would school me on HGH injections and growth-plate bone implants. My child was thriving and I was complaining about having no time – not money, but time – to go buy her more stuff. A first-world problem if ever there was one.
Like hundreds of things in this world – canoeing, polar bear swims, breakfast in bed – a snow day sounds better the night before than it does in the morning. Picture this: it’s late and it’s been snowing for hours, accumulating faster than the plows can clear it from the roads. Your kids are elated, too excited to sleep or finish the homework that’s due tomorrow. Their excitement is contagious. You think how nice it would be to sleep in, snuggle in your jammies all day, play board games, venture outdoors to go sledding, then come in for hot cocoa and more snuggling. Except it never turns out that way.
The reality is that the school calls at 5:17 am, so forget about sleeping in. By 7:00 am, the novelty of a foot of snow has worn off and nobody cares. By 9:30 am everybody’s been sequestered to separate rooms for fighting, and you’ve eaten three sack lunches. When you finally make it outside for sledding, the snow is too thick to slide, so you shovel an entire luge course in the yard, which never gets used because the kids got cold and went back inside. At 4:00 pm you realize there’s no food for dinner and you can’t drive to the store, so you portion out bowls of cereal. By nightfall, everyone’s mood is foul as they realize a snow day is just a temporary reprieve and they still have homework.
Oddly, we never seem to remember not to wish for another snow day.
Living twenty miles from Target is both a downside and a benefit of living in the country. I wish for a closer Target when the seasons change, when the cat vomits on the bathroom rug, and when the wind blows the curried scent of restlessness through a kaleidoscope of faded home accessories. But who am I kidding? I don’t have the willpower to withstand that kind of consumer temptation. Living far away from Target has saved me a fortune. I know better than to wish otherwise.
Periods are a pain. They are unpredictable, uncomfortable, and inconvenient. They have brought many a sophisticated lady to the cold-water sink of humility with her favorite undies and the Spray-n-Wash. Periods are something we bond over, commiserate about, and greet with both relief and dread. They are the ticket into womanhood and will be our ever-present escort, like a lunar compass. Monthly cycles are nature’s way of saying to your body, “You got this, girl!” But still, it’s hard to appreciate the gift of fertility while retaining two pants-sizes of water and pressing a heating pad against your abdomen. I know better than to wish for the end of this sentence, but every twenty-eight days, I do anyway.
Underneath these selfish and unrealistic wishes that skate across my mind is the knowledge that wishing alone won’t make it so. Like a disclaimer, I tell myself I know better, and I always, always return my mother’s phone calls.
This article was previously published on Mamalode.com
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