I mean, I'm sitting here trying to determine the best way in which to communicate the GREAT, HEAVING SIGH that billowed out of me the moment I sat down to write this. I'm tired, you're tired, we're all tired, aren't we? Every other breath I take is just, "hhhhhhhhhhh". You feel me, don't you? Yeah, I know you do. Well, here; sit with me. Let's just sigh together forever until we're slumped-over skeletons, our finger bones still wrapped around our empty wine glasses, shall we? Someday they'll find us and put us in a museum exhibit documenting the effects that nagging, swearing, booger-wiping and lost hope have on the human psyche—but at least we'll have gone down doing the things we love most: hollering at our children to get back in bed, and at our spouses to open a new bottle of wine and bring us that bag of Dorito crumbs goddamnit, and then waiting 72 years for any of those things to ever happen.
Writing right now feels oddly reminiscent of the first time I tried to drive a stick shift; but, if I'm being honest, everything feels hard. It's wintertime; it's dark, it's brutally cold, and I can't get warm enough. I moved to Minnesota all those years ago not having any idea that Twin Cities winters are actually worse than the Canadian ones I'd grown up weathering; and so here I am up to my eyeballs in my eleventh Minnesota winter, enveloped in darkness, whipping down the freeways at 4mph to keep from ending up in a snowbank at any point over the course of my two-plus hours of daily commuting, working on my winter body while I daydream about what it must be like to lie on the beach in The Seychelles and not end up with a second-degree sunburn...(I mean, I don't know, but maybe take me to The Seychelles and let me try...?)
Here's the real reason I'm tired, though: it's this person.
She's a maniac. She's a great ball of energy and light and emotion and fire and fury and oh, maybe I'd have an easier time reckoning with that if I wasn't already all of those things myself?? One iteration of me is enough work – a second tiny one with some large-scale opinions on the Pokémon Christmas Bash album on Spotify is another matter altogether.
I about lost my mind at the grocery store last weekend over the number of times I had to ask her to stop rolling around on the floor, stop running down the aisles and running her hands along the price tags and precariously-placed canned goods, to stop squeezing into places she doesn't fit and to please for the love of god watch where you're going lest you slam face-first into another stranger's ass. BUT SHE DOESN'T QUIT. AND THIS IS NORMAL.
I count the minutes until bedtime, and I promise that at least once I've seen the second-hand ever so briefly move backward. That cosmic presence in the sky is sitting in a recliner laughing, I know—and please, don't get me wrong, because I live and breathe this child of mine—but when 7 p.m. hits and I'm not a human pile of sweatpants watching Netflix & indulging in any one of my favorite unhealthy vices, I'm, oh, an angry ogre, kinda?
My version of our bedtime routine includes changing into pyjamas, flossing, brushing, face-washing, peeing, and settling into bed to read a couple of books. It's standard, no-nonsense business. It's straightforward. It works.
Except...hhhhhhhhhhhhh. It doesn't. Because instead, I'm contending with a half-naked (IF I'M LUCKY) hellion cartwheeling down the hall, scrambling under her bed laughing maniacally, bolting to the bathroom to see how much water she can waste before I storm in and ask her when she's going to get a job to start paying our Xcel bill.
And tacked on to the end of that foolproof bedtime routine of mine is a series of appendices and amendments that were definitely never approved by management – so instead of victory and relief once lights are out, there's an unending string of requests for water, allegations of having to pee, accusations of me being a giant buzzkill, and a long list of friends she misses – each name followed by a request to have eighty sleepovers starting at that very moment – can we call them, she asks, and invite them over?
And when the answer is no, when I put my foot down and assert the power I absolutely do not have, and things escalate to whisper-yelling (me), actual yelling (her) and crying (both??), and when she tells me, "Mama, you're giving me google sadness," because a google is the biggest number she knows and she needs to tell me exactly the extent to which I'm killing her buzz, that's the point at which I melt into the carpet, die a thousand deaths and wish only for the sweet relief of a watery grave because HOLY HELL DOES THIS CHILD OF MINE HAVE TENACITY.
She's strong, she's fierce and she's a powerhouse, I'm telling you. This is her, as it happens – all forty pounds of her, pulling all one-hundred-and-forty pounds of me through the snow in our backyard. I'm not kidding; she'll rule the world someday. And the least she can do is give me a mother suite in her palace to thank me for my troubles.