It's weird. After nearly 28 years of motherhood, I've developed a sort of litany, chapter and verse, to the problems of the other denizens of my household.
"Have you slept? Do you need a nap? Have you eaten? When was the last time you drank water? Did you poop? How long ago? Consistency? Were there cramps with that? Is your period coming on? How's your homework? Are you being bullied at school? Online? Is something wrong at work? How's your bedding, has it been cleaned? Did you take a Tums? An Advil? A CBD gummi? Do you have a dentist appointment coming soon? Wait--did you watch a scary movie when you know they give you nightmares?"
"But Mom! I stubbed my toe!"
"Right--Advil. Sorry--forgot to ask. Did you put a bandaid on it."
"Then do that, don't forget the Advil, and maybe don't put shoes on for a bit. We good? Did I make it better?"
"Good. Now give me a hug. Because I need one, that's why. I'm traumatized now."
And so on.
So, about last night.
I was up late writing... witness the time stamp here.
And there I was, up late, alone, the only sound the steady breathing of the small dogs at my feet and the clacking of my keyboard. Just me and my characters, alone... alone...
Except for the adolescent angsting coming from Squish's room!
"Squish? Are you okay?"
*sobs* "I'm fine! Go away!"
"If you're sure..."
"I'm FINE Mom!"
And I resume my clacking.
My characters are a riot, and I'm so excited to be working on Spencer's book, and I am sucked down, down, down--
This is from Mate's room--and before anyone panics, truly, this happens every other night. When I'm asleep next to him, I've gotten very adept at just throwing an arm out to pin him to the bed, otherwise he goes lurching about our overfilled room in an attempt to maim himself on the furniture.
But I'm not in bed, I'm at my desk, so I get up and hurry to the bedroom and sure enough, he's sprawled across the bed, face down, going, "I can't breathe!"
I drape myself across him--because usually this works--and he shouts, "GET OFF OF ME AND GO AWAY!"
Well, fine. It's not like I wasn't doing anything in the first place, right?
So, I'm at my computer again, and ten minutes later, he pads in, sheepish and apologetic. "I'm sorry."
"I was in the middle of a bad dream."
"I thought I couldn't breathe."
He hugs me, and there is come canoodling. And then he looks at the time. "It's almost two!"
"Yeah. I won't be long."
More canoodling, and then he goes back to bed.
And ten minutes later, ZoomBoy comes out. "I'm going to throw up. And I"m anxious. And it's freaking me out."
"Okay." And before I can run through my litany, he goes, "I just want some air. I think that will help.'
Sure. He slides open the door, sits down on the porch and goes, "Can you come comfort me?"
And me and ZoomBoy do the dance for the next hour. I repeat the litany, and he's answering all the questions--including the water one and the did you poop one--with familiarity, and then, about an hour in, he gets dodgy.
"Well," I say. "Did you take Tums?"
"Here, let's go take them."
"Mom... the red ones taste awful."
"Well that's only the new ones. I bought some of the old chalky ones because you all seem to like those better."
He perks up. "I could do that."
And ten minutes later he goes to bed, feeling better.
Which means the time I'm sliding into bed is... well, nearly four a.m.
And I'm wound like a clock by now, so it takes me an hour to get to sleep.
Sometime in there, Nebula slinks in and insists he needs to be fed wet food now or he shall waste away and DAEEEEEEEE, and I feed him about eight, and go back to bed until nine-thirty, when I drag myself out of bed with the fuzzy conviction that if I don't get out of bed, go walking, do my regular daytime routine, and take my nap at two like I usually do, I shall destroy my sleep patterns for the next two months.
The result is, I am smucking fuseless for the rest of the day.
I literally become one with the couch--and I had plans, things like laundry and answering e-mail and other things like that--but Mate turns on SNL and I am toast. (btw, Issa Rae is luminous. Needed to be said.) But at 2:30 pm I call uncle and head to the bathroom before taking my nap.
On my way out of the bathroom, I stub my toe, hard.
"Are you okay?" ZoomBoy asks.
"No," I tell him shortly.
I limp into the kitchen, toe ACHING, and ask Mate if there's any bandaids. "Only the big ones," he replies.
Still half-asleep, I take out a pair of scissors, split a bandaid in half lengthwise while still in the wrapper, and present my toe and the bandaid to Mate.
"I can't look," I tell him.
"Your nail is loose."
"Fantastic. Can you wrap it?"
"Yeah, are you ok--"
"I'm gonna take some Advil," I tell him. "And go to bed."
"I'm going to drink lots of water."
"And eat lunch when I wake up."
It is not, of course, a good idea--I'm ravenous when I wake up two hours later, but you know what? It doesn't matter.
Because it turns out, I can Mom myself just as competently as I can Mom everybody else. And I guess my defects in that department will always come to roost back on my own damned head.