“Where’s my pen?!” Embers of a dread ignited in my gut.
“There’s some in the jar by the fridge,” a male voice calmly said from the other room.
But I wasn’t calm, I was mildly panicked.
“No, there ISN’T!” I knew in my heart I was being irrational but my heart had been silenced by my semi-shrieking mouth.
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My husband, Brian, appeared around the kitchen corner. “Yes, there is — in that jar,” he said, pointing.
I used my best Mom voice. The one that doesn’t take any crap and is (in theory or at least in my head) authoritative: The James Earl Jones of Mother’s Voices. “No, there isn’t.”
“Yes,” he said but his face read, “Kids, Mommy might need to go away for a while to rest.”
I sighed, heavily, grabbed my purse and rummaged through it. “I mean MY pens, not those gloppy Bic Sticks. The pens that feel and write best. Pilot G-2s. MY pens.”
“What are you writing?”
Excellent question, now he would surely understand.
“The grocery list.”
He didn’t understand.
Not at all.
“AH HA!” I found one deep in my purse, held it up victoriously like Simba by Rafiki and sang a really botched version of the beginning of Circle of Life, “Iiin Nevadaaa, this pens’s in Nevada.”*
Then I used it to write, “Susan Pens” on the grocery list.
When I got married I gave up a lot: the whole bed, half the counter space in the bathroom, my maiden name …. But it was for love; I was happy to do it.
When I had kids I gave up a lot: my waistline, sleep, the crayons from my childhood…. But it was for love; I was happy to do it.
At this point in life, I accept that my privacy is at a minimum, my purse is open territory for deposits and withdrawals, my shampoo and conditioner may be empty when I take a shower and the days of exclusive TV control are long, long gone. I share most every room in the house, the closest I have to personal space is a 10-by-10-foot corner office in the basement and even that has evidence of other people using my computer.
I have to hold tight to my pens.
You say, “Selfish, picky, ridiculous.” I don’t care. My. Pens.
My mother tells a story of her feather-trimmed, pink, satin high-heeled mules. She loved those slippers. They made her feel elegant, but they were hardly appropriate around-the-house footwear for a mother of three young kids living in the country. But she kept them front and center in her closet to see each time she opened the door; to remind herself of a part of her that was buried under diapers, laundry and mud.
Until the day she found one of us in her closet with a slipper in his mouth. Elegant and frivolous footwear to slobbery teething toy in one moment.
Like a lot of things in my pre-marriage, pre-kids days, I didn’t understand the sad face she would get when she talked about those shoes. She had a whole closet of shoes, nice shoes! I should know. I had toddled around in them many times.
Which, of course is the point. Now I get it, Mom. Those mules made you happy. They were yours and yours alone in a life and house full of ours.
*Dazzle your friends, or at least try to say it right the next time you lift up a baby or a puppy. The opening lyric of The Circle of Life is, “Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba.” It means, “Here comes a lion, Father.”