IMG_7959Here Nora, let me fix you

The old positive attitude took a slight hit this past week, for no discernible reason. It just happens. I’d been cruising along with an almost demented good cheer and a tweaker’s excessive energy, getting the big kids off to school every morning with their little faces glistening with sunscreen, plugging away through the day with my little non-napping buddy, making dinner and doing dishes and cleaning the house after the kids went to bed. Then, after spying a couple of neighbor ladies out and about with their husbands over a weekend, and having a slightly unsatisfactory phone conversation with my husband from 6,000 miles away in which he detailed his Saturday of mostly sitting outside and reading Russian history while I sat in the middle of a cyclone of noise and squalor and sticky floors and ants marching across the sticky floors and spiders moving into the corners of the house to gorge on the ants and then the ants’ little bloodless corpses dropping in piles in the corners of the house and……. well, I lost my edge a little.


IMG_8055Can you tell they’re related? Nose-picking: our family legacy

Anyway, I had a good solid day of feeling a little sorry for myself. It is a lot of work to take care of four people (I’m including myself in this count, though I can vouch that I’m a peach and need very little care). You simply cannot ever slack off. They are there at 6 every morning, delighted and ready to start their day, and expecting you to be delighted along with them (which, really, they deserve), and then the day is a long reel of requests and non sequiturs and heart-warming cuteness and repeated questions and things spilling and occasional arguments and then a small person who periodically just poops in her pants.

I’ve done every morning routine, answered every request, given every bath, disciplined every bad behavior, made every meal, cleaned up every meal, cleaned every room, and so forth for nine weeks now, and I still have a hell of a long way to go.

IMG_8083the little Queen Mother waves to her throngs of adoring fans on the walk to school



So, while I would never want to change places with my husband and be the person who has to be away from these three darling people, I also had a moment (okay, a 24-hour-spell) of jealousy where I thought I might actually, literally punch a stranger in the face if, through some Faustian bargain, it meant I could have a Saturday to myself to just sit and read.

As long as I can keep myself from being like Carol Burnett as Miss Hannigan, I’m doing alright   (oh my God, she’s awesome!)

But! Resentment is no fun for anyone, and I have no one to blame for anything, so after about a day I had a little talk with myself. I usually start such talks with, “Williams!” This one went something like, “Williams! Get your ass in gear. This is no time for moping around saying poor little me, and for what? Because you have a great family? Because your husband has a job he believes in? Because your kids go to a nice school and it’s so hard to get them there on time every morning? Perspective, Williams! Enough! ENOUGH!” Then I drove down to the YMCA, left sweet Zanny in the child watch center, and cranked out my fastest 5-mile run on the treadmill that I think I have ever done. My short arms and legs were just hard-chargin’ along.  I could feel the lady at the desk staring at me for running so fast, and I was worried that she was going to try to kick me out and that I was going to have to take her down using some kind of improvised jiu-jitsu move. Luckily, she did not mess with me and, feeling purified for having wrestled my demons, I collected Zanny and have had a pretty good attitude ever since.

One thing I do worry about is growing apart from my husband. Oh, when we were young! We wrote long letters, we talked all the time, we took long walks and discussed all these big thoughts and tried out ideas on each others and he read my writing when it was fresh and horrible off the page. Now, it’s so easy for me to feel like a grim-faced automaton. I just march through the day, checking every box and making sure the kids have everything they need. He’s quieter than I am, so if I don’t keep up the conversation, the whole thing could fall to hell in a handbasket. Music always helps me tap into my kinder, gentler side, and so here’s what I listened to this week:

“Sound of Sense” by Blood Pony. When we were stationed outside St. Louis near Scott Air Force base (TRANSCOM), I got really into local music via St. Louis’s amazing independent radio station, KDHX. I was housebound, thousands of miles from family, and with a toddler and a newborn to care for, while my husband worked shifts on the watch floor all through a gray Illinois winter. The local radio station brought me joy! I would listen to all their shows, like the folk music guy on Sundays, and “beep beep boop boop” on Thursday nights (the electronic music show), and Dangerous Curves with Sherry Danger (oh, this is bringing back memories!). Anyway, one local band I loved was Blood Pony. They have a haunting, quiet sound with lots of trademark violin and xylophone. “Sound of Sense” is a gorgeous song with a slow build. I am not even 100% sure of the words because I have never seen the lyrics written down, so I could be singing them all wrong like some comical game of telephone. Sadly, I couldn’t find a video of them performing this song, but you can hear it online.

why do you think that there is something untenable

on this mountain

there’s nothing there

that will eat you alive

duck your head under the covers and wait til morning, listen to the wind

and know you won’t get hurt

and this noise that’s in your head….  [then something that sounds like “are your children calling a taxi cab” – that can’t be right]

let’s be together, let’s be friends

let’s be together


“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure. That intro! And the words – so romantic! Everyone knows this song, but have you listened to it lately while missing someone and/or feeling sorry for yourself because you are not sitting outside reading Russian history on a Saturday?

Spinning on that dizzy edge
Kissed her face and kissed her head
Dreamed of all the different ways I had to make her glow  
[what! tell me more — Editor]
“Why are you so far away?,” she said
“Why won’t you ever know that I’m in love with you?
That I’m in love with you?”

You, soft and only, you, lost and lonely
You, strange as angels
Dancing in the deepest oceans
Twisting in the water
You’re just like a dream
You’re just like a dream

Also, with each passing day I look more like Robert Smith when I first wake up in the morning. Gonna give Dave a wee shock when he gets home.


Last of all, saving the day, my husband sent me two mix CDs. I had to smile at the first song, which I knew he chose consciously — “Stronger Than That” by the Canadian singer Bahamas.

Yeah, yeah. I’m back on the horse. I know we’re stronger than that.