"Yes, Mother. I can see you are flawed. You have not hidden it. That is your greatest gift to me."
In winter, in darkness, I sometimes pull my feet onto the bed swiftly. I feel the swipe of a hand just missing my heel, the blood flooding my heart despite the unfounded fear that something is lurking and hidden beneath where I sleep.
Summer is different.
We see the monsters, sharp in the light.
Sunrise, 4:24 am. Sunset, 11:41 pm. A total of 19 hours and 17 minutes of daylight. A loss of 1 minute and 11 seconds from yesterday.
The sun is persistent and we do not sleep.
A recent morning, this exhausted petty thing:
9-year-old boy, with sweeping gesture: "You aren't taking enough care with my breakfast."
Me: " ... ?"
9-year-old boy, with the gestures: "Your plate always has extra stuff on it."
Me: "Uh huh, like last night's brussels sprouts and kim-chi? Or maybe you're referring to the dietary fiber I'm sprinkling on my eggs."
9-year-old boy, with glassy eyes: "No ... you're food just looks nicer. You make it look nicer. Just for YOU."
Me: " ... "
6-year-old girl, turning to boy: "You're being mean to Mom."
6-year-old girl, turning to me: "I don't want fried eggs, I only like poached. Don't make me fried because I won't eat them."
I do not feel like defining the term "short order cook." I do not feel like cooking. I do not feel like eating. I do not feel like feeding these children. I do not feel like chasing after the stomping 9-year-old. I do not feel like resuming the school-morning breakfast schedule (M,W = oatmeal, T, Th = eggs, F = cereal). I do not feel like rinsing dishes. I do not feel that cold cereal every morning is the answer. I do not feel like being here. I do not feel like deciphering baby talk. I do not feel like being angry about this. I do not feel like being honest. I do not feel like I'm cut out to be a mother, the tipping point a god-damned plate of food. I do not feel like feeling all of this.
My creative work has stalled and I'm snapping and swiping at heels.
There is no satisfaction in my clawed-for bursts of production, in this hunt for artistic clarity, in what feels so selfish on my part. Time.
Tomorrow it could all just disappear. It has for other mothers.
I know this.
I fear this.
I lose my mind to darkness. I lose my mind to light.
Every year, twice a year.
Here, in this northern place.
I know this.