I held the medicine dropper up the light to ensure that Coco-pop had taken all of the medicine to my satisfaction. She hadn’t. I didn’t need to look at the dropper to realize that; the thick red liquid (‘cool-aid flavored! Babies love it!’) was running down her chin, dripping into her collar, and blending nicely with the ex-contents of her nose. She was doing her best, it seemed, to roll over and stain the blanket she was lying on. She was also squalling at the top of her lungs.
I stared at the fevered 2 year-old on the couch and the whole scene took on panoramic proportions until my glassy eyes took in the heaps of almost-sorted laundry, the coffee cups with hardened coffee dregs sitting on the table, almost hidden from view by the most random collection of items—why is the soup pot on the table, and is that an umbrella next to it? If those flowers were any deader, they would be coming back to life…oh, so that’s what smells like the dead rodent that I spent all morning jumping at the dust mites because of—and then it caught my eye. The scene retracted again. There was a small stain on my new skirt. It was red. I sniffed at it. It smelled like cool-aid.
Baby wipes are good for these types of situations.
Crying might be less so, although perhaps the chemical makeup of tears might work together to create a good cleanser. Scientific research of exactly this idea might have been in the back of my mind as I stared blindly at my bawling baby and joined in. The room, the baby, the dead flowers, and the stain all blurred.
It all blurred and became one. And so I cried about the stain. I cried about all my stained skirts and the skirts that were not stained because 2 years after the baby was born, they still didn’t fit me. I cried about my pettiness, not being happy enough with my beautiful children and the weight that I had lost, but always mourning my one-size-smaller skirts. And then sudden;ly I was crying that I do not have a freezer full of freshly baked cookies and cakes, but knowing full well that I also cry when I make them...trapped, trapped, trapped, with no car and a broken carriage. And 6,000 miles away from anyone that I really want to talk to. My sisters, my Ima, the comfort of laughing with them. And my Abba, my patient Abba with his beautiful smile the only expression that I’ve seen him with lately, painted in stark relief against the gauntness of his finely chiseled facial structure. I’m so happy that you are in Yerushalayim, his smile tells me. Even though I can never visit.
And I have a stupid stain
On my stupid skirt.
But not everything is big. I mean, sometimes it is okay to sweat the small stuff—or, at least cry about the small stuff—because the small stuff can be big, in such a small apartment and in such a small country.
Which can work both ways, you know. Because a few minutes later, when Coco-pop, who had stopped howling abruptly to stare at me, bewildered, decided that Ima crying was the funniest thing that had happened all day and began giggling, I started laughing, too. Then I dropped the dropper, picked up my still-laughing daughter, and medicine-smeared cheeks and all, began dancing with her.
Then I changed my skirt and walked across the length of the ballroom and started making dinner.