I am not in the Christmas spirit, at all. My kitchen is a disaster area. There is crusted food on my tile counter tops. Garbage is on the floor, next to the garbage can; not in the can, but next to it. Paper towels are strung to and fro and I have less than zero holiday spirit. I miss Peter and I am crawling to Christmas break. My roommates are somewhere in the house but they are being so quiet, I can’t locate them. “Hello?” I call out. I am not really interested in finding them as I am so tired, but I feel I need to at least pretend that I care where they are. I can’t even muster the energy to worry about being a good mom. I look at the microwave clock and it reads 4:30 perfect, we will have an early dinner and we can just go to bed, which is what we all want.
While I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner, I remembered that I had gotten a ten dollar bill from the grocery store but I could not remember where I tucked the money. Why would I put the cash in my wallet? That would make too much sense and only serve as a reminder that I am responsible. I am now screaming profanities around my dining room and kitchen. My children appear out of nowhere and question my cursing. I inform them that I lost ten dollars and I was pissed. I was so completely mad at myself for losing cash that I was not really paying attention to my kids and what they were doing. I HATE CHRISTMAS! I hate everything right now. I’m apoplectic and confused standing in my dining room. I grill the roommates, convinced that they have seen my ten dollar bill. I don’t believe either one of them has stolen my money but I know they have SEEN my money. They glare at each other the way siblings do and reassure me that they have not seen any cash anywhere ever.
I plop down on the couch and drop my head into my hands. The money is not the issue. The issue is that I am failing. I have lost money that I need. I haven’t cleaned my kitchen in days but it feels and looks like weeks. I am practically throwing food at my children in hopes they will gain some nutritional value from random protein bars and smoothies that are really more like ice cream shakes. I am failing at being a single parent. I hate my life more than I have in a awhile. As I am wallowing in my misery and self-pity, my son comes into the living room and hands me a ten dollar bill and says “here mom, I know you’re upset about losing your money so you can have mine.” I look up at him in amazement. One, because he knew where his money was and two, he was willing to give me something he valued.
Just as he handed me his money my daughter says “See mom, you never know what life has to offer.” Then something truly miraculous happened. The ceiling of my kitchen parted and a heavenly light shone down so bright I was blinded. Then the angel Gabriel descended upon me…Well, that didn’t really happen but I did have a moment, if you will. I looked up at my son, my 6’ 4” two hundred pound son, my son that was so close to death that Peter and I had to discuss funeral arrangements and I felt shame.
I turned my head and stared at my daughter, who is also taller than me by several inches, and more in tune with who she is than I can ever hope to be, and that shame turned to tears, more tears! Good God! But wait. I was feeling grateful. I was so grateful to have these humans in my life So what if my kitchen looks like Chef, from the Muppets cooked there. So what if my kids were sustained by protein bars and rainbow sherbet the last few days. So what if I burned dinner the last few nights, which caused my kids to eat more protein bars and rainbow sherbet for dinner. None of these facts matter. I still miss Peter. I am still not in the Christmas spirit but I am fulfilled. My heart is full and I love my roommates, to the point where I want to touch both of them, which clearly is not allowed. Fortunately, both kids see my exuberant emotion and allow me to hug them, not just touch, but hug. I put my arms around both of the roommates at the same time, each of them reluctant to touch each other; both also understanding that in my heightened emotional state that if they bitch at each other I will lose my shit.
“My babies!” I whisper, just as I do my son says, “Yeah, that’s enough” and pulls away from our miraculous, rare group hug. I am happy, or more specifically, content. I am content with my everything. A rare feeling that I try to cherish because this moment, as every moment, is fleeting. Soon I will reestablish my contentious relationship with my kitchen. Soon I will remember that I am enveloped in grief and soon I will judge myself for my lack of parenting skill. But this moment, right here, I relish in the feeling of my children’s warm breath on my neck as they leave my physical presence.