Saturday I woke tense and anxious. I do not know why. Some days I wake like this. I think we are all manic-depressive in a mild form, or at least I am. I prayed and hoped for my mood to change but the firmament was closed that morning.
Brooke worked all day. Ellis and I watched a movie and then ate lunch; she crawled into her chair and I set a peanut butter and honey sandwich in front of her. Then, I went to wash dishes and could see her when I didn’t watch what was in my hands. Ellis pulled her sandwich apart with calm and poise, stuck her finger in the honey and peanut mixture, and applied it to either cheek. She applied it to her chin and nose. I let it all happen, knowing she would need a bath, half-amused and half-exasperated, and the mixture covered her face and stuck to her hair.
I put her in the bathtub and then put her to bed. I read and slept, too. When I awoke, I cleaned downstairs and prayed while I cleaned. I’ve often prayed, lately, for peace and change within myself and I become frustrated when I do not see my growth, when I am again waiting for God to act. I am always waiting: the life of following God is a waiting life.
Ellis woke happily, but before I thought she would. While she chatted and sang in her crib I brought the jogging stroller and pump outside. There was snow on the ground and we needed milk; the jogging stroller was much easier to push in the snow. I pumped up the tires. When I came in, Ellis was beginning to cry so I ran upstairs to get her.
I took food and juice and Ellis demanded we bring two baby dolls wrapped in a blanket. We did. As we went outside to walk to the store, the lower panel of our screen door fell off. It had been dented for some time and maybe the wind had caught it just right, finally, so it fell in. I threw the panel behind the couch and wondered to God what else might go wrong.
I set Ellis and her baby dolls in the stroller and started to move it when I realized the right tire — the one I had pumped up fifteen minutes ago — was flat.
I ran back inside while Ellis sat on the sidewalk to get our other stroller, the one that did not handle snow well. I put Ellis and her babies and crackers and juice in that stroller. Finally, we left. At points in the walk I had to lift the entire stroller over slush and snow.
Returning home with milk and chapstick, I maneuvered Ellis and our groceries and the stroller inside, only to remember the screen door had no bottom, and our cat had escaped. He was two doors down screaming at another neighborhood cat. The neighbor came out and I waved and apologized. Daly, our cat, ran to another house and behind a bush where I could not reach him.
I ran back inside to see Ellis saying, “Juice, juice,” and reaching for her juice on the sidebar. I handed it to her, and turned on the television. I grabbed a pair of heavy gloves. A few months ago, Daly had badly scratched my hands when I brought him inside.
I walked down to the neighbor’s. He still huddled behind the bush. He hissed at me and swatted. I wanted him to turn around so I could grab him from behind and hold him, so he could not get his claws and mouth in close to my chest and face. I threw a snowball at his hindquarters, trying to turn him. He walked off and out of my reach. I hit him again with a snowball. He seemed so surprised and stunned to be hit with something while nothing was near him, and trotted off back to our front door. Ellis greeted us both and I chased Daly upstairs.
And thus was the evening. Ellis whined and I had a short temper. I snapped at her once but she did not, fortunately, cry. She ate a little dinner and I had a fish sandwich with no joy in it.
On days when I awake anxious and all my best plans crack and splinter and time itself seems to fray at the seams I wonder where God is. It is a selfish wondering, a blind wondering, but I do it because I am human and little better than blind on my best days.
At the end of the evening, we went upstairs and Ellis jumped on the bed. She laughed and laughed at herself and her jumping. I gave her a “Jesus Loves Me” sticker. She played with it and I sang to her. I changed her into her pajamas while she kicked and laughed and tried to squirm away. Because of her infectious laugh, I blew raspberries on her belly. I brushed her teeth and read her a book. She pointed to the first picture in the book, a mouse putting a baby mouse to sleep, and said, “That’s a daddy.”
After reading I sang to her again and she laid her head on my shoulder and I felt life without frustration or anxiousness, life beyond time: an infinite moment after a day of struggle and tripping over myself, and I sang a child’s song and all I knew was Peace.