I call her Helena; Minnie; Minnie Mooshoes and My Boobus. Sometimes she calls me Smothered Burrito, and then I call her Taco Belle.
Sam is Sonny Boy; Nate is Beanie.
I was talking to a friend the other day and I said this: "My life did not turn out one iota the way I thought it would, except for the mom part."
Abominably incorrect wording, but you get the idea.
I look at my daughter, getting herself ready to go somewhere; geared up in her tennis things; walking away from me and toward her school and I'm stunned into silence by her pre-teen perfection. Who are you? Braces, acne, bad hair some days, she dredges up too-clear memories of that me, awkward, boy-crazy, mad that my body was doing all kinds of weird stuff. But she's smarter than I was and cooler, too. Way cooler.
We talk about everything. I know you're not supposed to befriend your kids, but, hell, she's solid. She asks good questions, she makes great pancakes, she preps the coffee on Sunday mornings while I'm printing the bulletins.
The boys. Young men. Kicking ass on their mid-terms, skiing like mad already. Montana and Tahoe. They moved far away to good places. Somewhere along the line they learned how to make and keep friends, grocery shop, get a haircut, switch over to snow tires, find an apartment, pick up a prescription, cook the bacon just right, say thank you.
I don't remember ever having so much eagerness to be with my family, just wanting, wanting, wanting, to be in a house with all three of my kids breathing there with me. Football tossing, football watching, breakfast, wrestling, teasing, dinners. Bring your friends, we'll feed them all, too.
Oddly, weirdly, next week three of the four O'Brien sibs will be dotting the California landscape: brother and family in San Diego; other brother and family in San Francisco; us way up in the woods above Tahoe.
Sister Kristin will hang back in Alaska, but she and her gang will come to Vermont for Christmas. There will be three birthdays to celebrate after Christmas: Dad, Kristin and her boy, Quinn.
My parents are getting older. My kids are getting older. Hell, we're all getting older. Daisy, too. She's almost 11. Even if I could, though, I wouldn't want to stem the tide of time. The watching of a life unfold is a marvel. I think you don't really know this when you have babies, how great it is when they grow up and reveal themselves to the world.
It has been snowing every morning, a quiet, gentle snow. Not accumulating or anything, more like a prelude. The piano tuner came and tuned the piano at church. Her name is Lucy Tenenbaum — close enough to be funny, in my book. I took Daisy to the vet; his name is Dr. Treat. The funniest person I know, a friend of mine, is very sick down in Florida; it's not funny at all, I don't want her to die. Even now, when we talk she makes me howl with laughter. No one else I know can say, "Anywhoo" the way she does and make me crack up. The other Melissa has a birthday this week. Her dad died last early spring; the days are hard for her, she loved him so. A lot of people did.
The snow, the dying, turkey, football, Minnie. What to do with it all? I have no idea. Maybe nothing. Maybe nothing at all. Except get together and be together and breathe. Amen.