I am frequently asked “When are you gonna have another one?” when I am seen walking with my 5 year old daughter. Do I want one? Want is a strong word. Do I feel the biological pull of my uterus to create more offspring? Yes. But after this weekend when I took a road trip with my kid and my 8 year old niece to visit my mother in law in Pennsylvania, I was reminded why one can be more than enough.
I adore my niece but when the two of them get together, EVERYTHING is a pissing contest. And I see it with the other families around me as well. I can’t imagine throwing 2 or MORE kids in the back seat to spent 6 hours driving, keeping them all entertained (we don’t have a DVD player in the car so books, books, and more books), fed, and clean for the duration of the trip. For me, it’s hard enough with just the one!
Now I understand why I’m an only child. XD
This is not to say if I found myself suddenly pregnant again, I wouldn’t keep it, but in a perfect world, one is good. I still have so much I want to do with my own life that I can’t imagine putting it off any longer. Best to be happy with the one healthy, happy kid I’ve got. 🙂
This weekend was just me and the kiddo. It was kinda surreal to be honest. o_o The Hubbz went to visit his mother out of state to see how she’s doing. The news on that front is she’s dong as well as she can with stage 3 lung cancer. We’ll be going to see her all together next weekend.
But, yes; an entire weekend alone with my kid was strange. But I learned some things:
1. Dominos online ordering? You are faster than I thought and thank you for saving my ass on the Friday night I worked late and forgot to defrost anything.
2. Kiddo loves cucumber rolls. Very awesome. XD
3. Not having a car was a pain but saved my ass because since regular errands took so long, me and kiddo had quality time during the walks.
Addendum to #3? Lugging 3 cases of bottled water in a shopping cart is a pain in the ass… =_=
4. One kid is enough to entertain. My decision to stop at one (if I can help it) was very, very wise.
But it was cool hanging out with just me and the munchkin. I got no writing done but still; a lot of fun. 😉
It was a smart move to keep Frog and Rabbit tucked into my coat. It’s an even loner way to the lake from Marsalla’s house than from mine and I still need Rabbit to give me directions. By the time we’re there, my fingertips hurt and I bet my nose is red from cold.
Frog stays in my coat pocket while I crawl across the ice but Rabbit puts herself on my shoulder. I notice something different from the very first time I push the new fallen snow away from the man’s face. His lips are bluer against the full color of the rest of his face.
“Looks like we’re running out of time.” Frog sighs.
I push more snow aside, looking for a sign to know what do to do, and see the Frozen Man’s arm pointing down at his side.
“Down river.” Rabbit says, snuggling between my neck and the top of the backpack Marsalla gave me. The three of us look down the winding, blue ribbon of ice in the misty white with only darkness in the distance.
“That’s a long walk.” Frog says what we’re all thinking.
I hear Rabbit sight and I don’t blame her. A long walk doesn’t sound good in this weather. At least the snow hasn’t started to fall from the threatening sky.
“We better get as far as we can before it starts snowing again.” I pick up Rabbit from my shoulder and slide her next to Frog in my pocket so they can keep each other warm. The two of them barely fit so I waste no time and turn and walk along the riverbank in the direction the Frozen Man told me to.
It doesn’t take long before I’m shivering with every step and the cold turns my eyes fuzzy with tears. The third time I stumble and nearly fall on numb legs, Frog begs me to stop.
“There’s some old sewer pipes in the bridge up ahead.” Rabbit has to shout over a gust of wind that stirrs up the snow around ut. “They’re big enough to hide inside but small enough so the three of us can keep warm.”
“You can nap for a bit then keep going.” Frog sighs with relief at the thought of shelter and dives back into my pocket the second he’s done talking.
“But what if the Frozen Man runs out of time?” I shiver.
“You won’t be able to save him if you collapse here in the snow.” Rabbit’s voice is soothing as I walk in a daze, following her direction. The wind slows to reveal a small stone bridge reaching over the river, the ice under it frozen much thicker than further up river.
The moment I’m in the pipe, my body heat begins to fill the space. The smell or rust hurts my nose but my growling stomach is more important and I begin rooting through my pack for whatever goodies Marsalla packed for me. I find a box of energy bars, a collapsable lantern, packets of emergency blankets, mini bottles of water, and separate plastic containers of snacks for Rabbit and Frog. At least I hope the jar full of maggots is a snack for Frog and not some sort of spell I would later.
I put the lantern up so I can see into the very bottom of the backpack and fins a regular blanket buriet in the bottom. I wrap it around myself, leaving plenty of room for my friends, and I feel so warm. I’m almost tempted to take off my wet coat.
Rabbit snuggles into my lap. “Magic blanket.” She nods. “Better and safer than making a fire.”
“Bet there’s a lighter in there, though.” Frog finishes his meal and I cap the wiggling bugs before they can escape. “Just in case.”
I nibble at an energy bar, too tired to make conversation. I make it half way through before giving up and putting the rest away for later.”
“Get some sleep, Boot.” Rabbit lifts the blanket to let Frog scurry under and then settles herself next to my heart. “Don’t worry. We’ll wake you when it’s time to go.”
I nod in thanks and close my eyes, sleep so very welcome even with the wind howling outside as my luluby.
I don’t have the heart to turn Rabbit and Frog back out into the cold after taking me to my door. I smuggle them in under my coat and they make themselves at home in a nest of my stuffed animals.
But I don’t sleep. The face of the frozen man and future telling sticks keep me awake till I hear Auntie’s alarm from up the hallway. With dry eyes, I tiptoe to start the day, carefully hiding Frog and Rabbit behind my slippers and the crisply folded corner of my blanket.
While Auntie gets ready for work, I feed the dogs and start breakfast. Everything is done and piping hot when Auntie is showered and ready to eat. As I pick at my food, the dogs sniff at my clothes instead of begging Auntie for scraps, their noses right where I held my friends last night. To keep Auntie from suspecting I share my bacon with the dogs. I’m not really hungry anyway.
Time doesn’t move as fast as it should till Auntie shuts the door behind her and I let the dogs run wild out in the back yard so I can give Frog and Rabbit the chance to come out of my room.
“Where would the Cold One be hiding?” I ask Frog, kneeling at my bedside looking at both animals perched on my bed.
“I don’t think even Marsalla knows that.” Rabbis says, grooming her ears as she talks.
“We could ask her.” Frog fidgets, his webbed feet not happy on my plush blanket. “She could at least direct us somehow.”
“Let’s go now!” I bounce to my feet and run for my clothes. Rabbit follows with Frog on her back, waiting on the kitchen chair out of reach of the dogs when I let them in from the cold. I carry the small animals with me to the front door and lock everything up tight before dashing to Marsalla’s. It starts to snow on the way there, covering my tracks as I sneak around to the back door.
I only knock once and she opens the door, pulling me out of the cold with a smile. “What can I do for you today, Boot?” She says after closing the door against the wind.
“We need to know where the Cold One is.” Rabbit says, jumping from my wet and cold arms into Marsalla’s warm and dry ones.
Frog stays in my elbow where the snow didn’t reach. “Or at least point the way.”
“Ah, I think I can help you out there.” Marsalla smiles that grin where I can tell she knows something and turns to her kitchen. I take off my boots and leave them with my coat to drip in the hallway before I follow.
“Mama was good at the sticks. She could read the future of things using branches, bones, even chopsticks. If I dropped a handful of pens, Mama could see something to tell me.” Marsalla let Rabbit jump down onto the counter a good distance from the bubbling pot on the stove. “My specialty is water. I can read shapes in the ripples and reflections and it can tell me where things are.”
When Marsalla looks into the big copper pot boiling on the stove, the rest of us lean in, too.
“Uh, I can’t find anything if all I see is your faces.” She says.
Blushing, I back away and Marsalla turns off the pot. She watches as the steam coils up to the ceiling. I try to be patient as she looks at the water but it’s worse than waiting for the huskies to do their business outside during a really bad snow.
“I should have known.” Marsalla sighs, taking a mug down from the cabinet and tossing a tea bag into it. Pouring water on top, she points for me to sit.
Once I’m comfortable and Frog is bouncing on my shoulder with impatience, Marsalla sits next to me with a plate of goodies fit for all three of us; cookies, veggies, and a small cup of maggots for Frog who hops down right to them to eat.
“Go back to the frozen prince and follow his direction.” Marsalla shivers. “He will show you the way to the Cold One.”
I look up at Marsalla from my cup of tea with complete awe. This is what I expected from a witch who the whole town fears.
“Sorry, Boot. You don’t have time to wait for your clothes to dry before going onthis trip.” Marsalla pats my head with the same tender stroke she used on Rabbit’s fur. “Go on. Finish your tea and all of you, eat. By the time you guys are dressed and ready, I’ll have a bag packed for you.” Marsalla tucks that same curl behond her ear. “I can’t go with you but I can make sure you’re well stocked for your trip.”
“Me?” I back away from the sticks as if they’ll come after me. “If you can’t do it, how am I supposed to?”
“I wish I knew, hon.” Marsalla looks at me sadly. “Mama was the original witch of this house; the lady everyone was scared of. She had a way of knowing things. She knew she would die facing the Cold One, she told me never to go there, and she knew about you.”
A clock chimes nine in the other room. “You better go home, I don’t want you to get in trouble and if you’re seen here, you’ll have a lot of trouble.” She lifts Rabbit up to her shoulder. “Can you take her home?”
“We’ll keep her out of sight.” Rabbit chirps.
“And keep close to her.” Frog pipes up from my shoulder.
“Yes.” Marsalla lowers Rabbit and lets her jump to the floor. “She’s gonna need you two.”
I pull my coat on in a daze. “If two witches couldn’t win, what can I do?”
Marsalla hands me my hat with a smile. “Like Mama always said; the answers will come when they’re ready. You just have to pay attention.”
This chapter is short not because I was late or had no ideas… It just seemed like a good place to build tension. XD
“Come to think of it, you do look familiar.” Marsalla says to me, turning a cup of tea in her hands. I dunno why but I expect more after I finish telling her my story. She scratched her nose, picked at her sweater, tucked a fussy curl behind her ear but that’s it. I expected something… Witchier.
Rabbit, after she stopped shacking, looks up from the warm nest she’s made for herself in Marsalla’s lap. “Looks just like the guy, right? And she can hear us.”
“And your Mother could talk to animals?” Marsalla scratches between Rabbit’s ears.
“That’s what Auntie told me.”
Marsalla stops scritching Rabbit’s ears and picks her up so she can stand. “C’mere, kid. I want you to look at something.”
I bring my cup with me and Frog balances on my shoulder as I follower her out of the cluttered living room into an equally cluttered library. It’s like a book store exploded in here with only one clear area left untouched; a wood stand with a glass case on top.
“Take a look, Boot.” Marsalla points her chin at the case and I step towards it. Inside are a bunch of scattered sticks.
I watch them like she said. I take in the ceramic plate, the clean glass, the knots on every twig but nothing happens. “Am I supposed to see something?”
“Not unless you’re a witch with training in divination.” Marsalla smiles. “My mother cast those sticks. It’s the last reading she did before she died. She knew the winter would come and it’s because that guy is stuck in the lake.” Marsalla looks sadly down at the case, her eyes watering. “She tried to stop it but the Cold One was too powerful. It killed her.”
“I’m sorry.” I whisper, missing my mother, too.
Marsalla shrugs, blinking more than normal. “Thanks but that’s not important.” Her hand goes back to Rabbit, who flattens her ears in happiness. “My mother told me the reason for the endless winter is the Cold One put that man in the lake. To free him and end the winter, the Cold One has to be defeated.” She looks down at me. “And it has something to do with you.”
The trip down the tunnel is a blur of sound; Rabbit struggling and Frog squirming in my pocket. The way I’m being dragged, my coat is bunched up, trapping Frog in the folds. My hat id pushed halfway down my eyes so I don’t get the full force of the light when we reach it but when we do, the hard grip loosens and I tumble to the floor. Frog hops out and lands on my knee and Rabbit runs for the nearest hiding place.
“What were you doing outside my house?” I can hardly make out the words with so many scarves over the mouth in the shadowed face above me.
“You’re scaring her!” Frog scolds from my knee. “At lease take your head gear off when you talk, Marsalla.”
The shadow starts pulling off clothes till a face is finally revealed from under a hood, a hat, and two scarves. The olive colored skin still blushes form the cold. I expected Marsalla to be a scary old lady from the way people talk and how she was hunched over. But the pumps on her back where the overlap of the scarves and the packages strapped under her coats. Her face is round and she looks younger than Auntie.
“Why were you out in front of my house in the middle of the night?”
I notice adults use the phrase “middle of the night” to mean “any time after when a kid should be out of my way.” “Frog told me you know about the man in the river.”
A smile makes her cheeks round and Marsalla tosses her coat on top of a growing pile of outerwear. “Well, any friend of Frog’s and blah, blah, blah.” Marsalla rolls her shoulder so her bag slips off, a long fingered hand catching it before it can hit the floor. Her teeth are small, straight, and very human, smooth skin and hat hair all say normal lady just come back from the cold. How is she a witch?
“You might wanna get up off the floor and get comfortable. You’re already sweating.” Marsalla reaches out to me, short nails so clean, they look like ivory, and takes my hand so I cans get up. “Sorry about the drama. I got tired of kids busting windows since before the winter came.”
“Go on, Boot. You’re safe.” Frog whispers before jumping down to the carpet. “You come out too, Rabbit!”
Marsalla’s blue eyes light up. “Rabbit?” She darts off to where Frog is shouting and snatches up Rabbit with a quickness I didn’t think a woman of her size could do. Auntie is all bones and can’t move that fast but Marsalla is all curves and moves like lightening.
Rabbit only has time for one squeak before she’s pressed against Marsalla’s chest. “I haven’t seen a rabbit in years! And so adorable! Aren’t you, sweetie?”
Some of her baby talk is muffled as I pull off my coat and look around. Books and picture frames and mirrors are everywhere, the only bare spots on any flat surface clean from a fresh dusting.. The carpet stops in front of the kitchen and a wide circle around a fireplace as big as Auntie’s dogs. Once my coat is off, I notice how warm it is; my heart stops pounding and I notice the room smells like soft incense.
“Marsalla, you’re smothering her with your mammal parts.” Frog teases and I giggle when I see Rabbit’s baffled expression as she’s snuggled ruthlessly into the front of the woman’s sweater.
“Are you sure we’re in the right place?” I disobey every rule about staring at people, my mouth open in disbelief.
“You lookin’ for the witch who lives in this big, scary house?” Marsalla says.
“Then you’re in the right place.” Marsalla puts Rabbit down on the floor gently before planting her hands on her cocked hips. “And who are you?”
I got a flyer in my kid’s folder inviting parents to come share their holiday traditions. I didn’t even have to read the whole thing in order to decide there was no way in hell I was doing that even if I was free from work to do so.
I have no intention of turning my kid’s pre-k into a religious battle ground and making school miserable for her. Granted, in all likelihood, nothing would come of me going there and saying what the Solstice means to me but if I’m gonna throw down for my religion, it’s not gonna be there.
You may think me cowardly for not using this as a teaching opportunity or something like that, but I pick my battles carefully. When someone asks me what my pentacle means, I tell them exactly what it means. If another parent has a problem with me rolling up to the school with all my pentacles on, it’s on them, not me. I remove them for NO ONE. But it’s not MY school, it’s my daughter’s. I teach her my traditions but I feel it’s not the right place to get such a discussion started.
The beginning of the meeting can be summed up like this: “Hi! Welcome to Important Person School. I am J. Q. Principle and can you please buy/donate/sell-so-we-can-have-money all this swag? For the children?” Not that I don’t want to help children but I think I’m doing great by being employed so I can keep food in my daughter’s belly, clean clothes on her back, and gas in the sitter’s car (gotta pay HER too) so she can get to school in the first place. Not to mention I’m a bit bitter about having to buy SHARED supplies for the classroom. When I was a kid (shakes cane for emphasis) the school paid for glue and markers. That there was some fancy book lernin!
I’m sure we can have the meeting about what my kid is learning every day BEFORE you try to sell me things I don’t need or want.
2: I am a freak.
But I knew this so… Specifically, I got these sidelong looks when other parent’s saw I brought my daughter with me. What was I supposed to do? Make her wait in the car? People always comment on how well my daughter talks and how social she is and that’s because I take her with me EVERYWHERE. We don’t have much choice considering she’s not at the age where I can trust her home alone without drinking Drano or burning the house down. If there’s a meeting where BOTH parents wanna go, expect to see kids there.
3: My kid is fucking with me.
I always worried about how my daughter was behaving in school. Is she hitting other kids? Is she running around like a nut? Is she listening? Is her head spinning around and she’s going full Linda Blair on the teachers? So, given the opportunity, I ask the teachers if she’s being good in school.
Turns out she’s MORE than good. She’s fucking phenomenal. I had another kid’s parents come up to me to thank me because the boy comes home RAVING about how nice my daughter is to him. She’s so helpful in class and “has so much personality” (this was said with a smile so I’m taking that as a good thing) it took everything I had not to turn to her in front of them all and yell “WHY AREN’T YOU THAT GOOD AT HOME!!!“
My theory is, she saves up all the evil tantrums for me like a cat saves the most disgusting dead thing to give you as a gift.
4: I am a cynical, antisocial bitch.
I barely said two words I didn’t have to while I was there. I was so tired, hungry (because back to school night is of course at dinner time THROUGH bedtime) and rather would have been writing. This is not to say I didn’t like talking to the teacher or hearing about what my kid does all day but I am not like my husband (who is a fucking social butterfly handing out his phone number to all the shiny new people he’s met). I want to get in and get shit done. I would always rather be writing so that’s beside he point. XD
Here’s where I feel like a horrible mother because I’m not all up in the school’s buttcrack about every molecule my kid touches in her school. Is she doing well? Awesome. I don’t feel the need to buddy up to ALL the parents (who glare at me anyway). I feel like one of the Coneheads or something when I’m in a crowd with them. Right there is the cynical part. I expect them to be catty and horrid Stepford Wives trying to steal my brain.
There was also an eye roll I almost had an aneurism trying NOT to do when the co-presidents of the PTA were bragged about taking the time out to be co-presidents of the PTA while having 4 kids and working full time. Well, aren’t you a special snowflake! Between my ONE kid, full time job, writing, and the overtime I scrape together by the skin of my teeth, AND doing an assload of housework, NO, I will NOT be giving time to the PTA. I’m lucky I have time to read a book to my kid and I would rather be doing THAT than talking to them.
I suppose I should be more positive about the whole thing. My daughter’s teacher is really nice and pleased with how she’s performing in class. My husband made some friends and spent some good money on stuff for the school to use on… Whatever they need to use it for. I did not curse anyone out, learned some interesting things about child development, and my daughter gave me the most adorable tour of her classroom ever in life evar. Happiness all around, right? XD
Aside for needing to just update more (prepare to hear more complaints about my kid and the general joys of being a working mother who scrapes for time to be creative), I have been thinking about how to make this a bit more lucrative. I have sold a couple more books and more people have been coming to my site, but at the same time I am becoming more aware of how I spend my time.
In order to make "extra" money, I’ve been taking as much overtime at work as I can get. And it doesn’t seem to matter because no matter how much "extra" money I get, I either break even or am slightly less behind than before. My kid is literally BEGGING me for my attention and acting up because I’m not around. I’m always working. I’m working so much that on my days off I am so freaking tired, I can’t play with her.
Though I love my mother to Reece’s Pieces, that was one mistake she made with me. As a single mom, she worked two jobs to make sure I had not only everything I needed but extra: Dance lessons, Saturday enrichment classes, instrument lessons… I was a very busy child. In addition, on her days off she had to take care of the yard and house. We didn’t pay for landscapers; she mowed our HUGE lawn and tended all our bushes herself. And cleaned. Didn’t cook, though. Ma can’t cook for shit. XD All this made it so at the end of the day, she was too tired even for a game of Chinese Checkers.
Since I don’t want to make that mistake, I will be taking less OT in the future. However, there is still a mortgage to be paid and my kid will always be better served if kept warm and fed whether I’m around or not. :p And since both me and the husband work full time, it couldn’t hurt if I explored some other avenues of income. That short story that got rejected? Rather than post it for free, I’ll make it available on Kindle on the cheap. As soon as I figure out how the formatting works. @_@ Everything that’s on my site now for free will remain as such but in the future, my short stories will go up on Kindle with previews on the site. As much as I want to be the cool author chick who gives her awesome stories away for free for all you lovely people to enjoy to your hearts content but, Lenni needs to keep her house. And eat. Food is great! 😀 Oh!! And clothes! Trust me, it’s to everyone’s benefit that I walk around with clothing on. XD
To that end, I’m back to my 5 page a day goal. And my journal doesn’t count. Neither does the blog. Five pages a day of pure creative genius. I’ll get there. 😉