coffee, god, and kids
as i sit down with my breakfast, which my husband has made for me while i was showering, i take the first sip of coffee. it slides easily down my throat. it knows the way. it does this a thousand times a day. on mission, ready to course through my veins and sustain me till nighttime.
i remember that i am reading a book, still by lauren winner—perhaps the second book in seven years that i have read without anyone paying me to do so.
the plastic library cover crackles as i open it and begin to read where i left off: “where is god when you’re lost? god is there, where am i? this is a relationship, in some ways a relationship like any other (except your interlocutor is invisible, and might be a figment of your imagination). you are talking past each other. at best.”
i read part of a poem by anne sexton: “i am torn in two / but i will conquer myself. / i will dig up my pride. / i will take scissors / and cut out the beggar. / i will take a crowbar / and pry out the broken / pieces of god in me.”
i sit, i sip, i nibble, i read—i get about 2 pages in when i hear, “mom, look at this weird thing my ankle does. watch.”
i nod, absentmindedly, unwilling to lose this reverie i have just entered into. “mmm, hmmm.”
“no, mom, look.”
i tear my eyes away from the page and look. “wow, yes, but that’s normal. it doesn’t hurt does it? ok good. and yes i see that your shoes are torn. yes, we can try to get you a new pair. ok, now please let me keep reading.”
back to the page: “once, when she [anne sexton] was in a mental hospital, a catholic priest came to visit her. ‘well,’ she said to him, ‘i’ve lost it all.’ the priest sat in her room and read her own poems aloud to her and she said, ‘look, i’m not sure i believe in god, anyway,’ and he said, ‘your typewriter is your altar.’ sexton said, ‘i can’t go to church. i can’t pray.’ the priest said, ‘your poems are your prayers.’
your typewriter is your altar. your poems are your prayers.
“mom, my teeth feel weird.”
sigh. take a breath. don’t want to be cruel. inside, though, you swallow a tiny scream. you want to throw a small temper tantrum.
“come and show me. ummm, hmmm, yes, well there’s nothing we can do about that unless you get braces. have you brushed your teeth? good. well when you’re older we can have that fixed i guess.”
with lots of money. that shiny metal sure does seem to cost a lot …
close the book. lost moment. breakfast gone. shuffle kids out the door, to the car, because husband is dropping them off at free church camp—free camp for 6 hours every day this week. bless their hearts. bless their hearts.
at the car door, i stand, hoping to give a wave, blow a kiss. i say, “please help your little brother get in the car.” big brother opens the car door, blocking him from getting in. gives me a blank stare. “what, mom?” runs to the other side of the car and tries to get in. big sister sits, watching him try to get in, doesn’t make a move to help open the door.
i stand on the porch. “get out. you’re grounded”—from free church camp, free camp at which people who don’t know me but obviously love me, in the name of jesus, are giving me six whole hours of time to myself every day.
never mind. that’s not such a good idea, the grounding from church camp. everyone back in the car.
i need my space.