When the kids were younger and my spouse used to travel for business, we developed numerous coping strategies to make his absence easier on everyone. Generally, this entailed a relaxation of mealtime and bedtime routines. Once, our eldest wrote a list of “Single Parent Rules,” which included gems such as “there’s no such thing as too much TV” and “caffeine is a food group (for the parent),” and she displayed them on the refrigerator for him to review upon his return.
Time softens my memory of the challenges I faced caring for three small humans alone, while the cook, dishwasher and superior reader of stories at bedtime was gone. I’d nearly forgotten that almost every time he traveled, one of the kids would get sick. Often this involved a stomach flu or some other virus; an ear infection or sudden, barking cough occasioned a visit to the pediatrician, followed by a trip to the pharmacy. Sometimes, those awful times when “Mom Immunity” failed, my spouse would return to a full house of cranky, exhausted sick people.
This week brought my memory into sharper focus. Not because the kids were any trouble; the youngest is now old enough to take on the task of preparing dinner every night. The eldest is away at college.
This time it’s the canine child who demands all my attention while the leader of the pack is gone. Her symptoms appear after the Vet’s office is closed for the night, of course. As I hide a small pill in peanut butter and desperately attempt to fit the no-bite collar around her neck while she wriggles from my grasp, I remember the rules that no longer hang on the refrigerator door.
Curling up on the couch for a long night of telling her to “leave it,” I consider how fortunate I am to still have the energy to take care of everyone at home while my partner in parenting travels, how relieved I am that Luna’s ailment is not contagious to humans and how happy I am the Top Dog is only away for one night.
I’m at the Rabbis Without Borders blog this week, sharing some reflections about a memorial service I attended on the 100th anniversary of Leo Frank’s murder. I was inspired to raise my voice not only in prayer but also in petitioning Georgia officials to exonerate Leo Frank.
Seeking Justice for Leo Frank: The sanctuary of Temple Kol Emeth is completely filled. Judges, lawyers and rabbis who will address the crowd sit on the bima, ready to be introduced. Next to the choir, there are rows of seats… Read more →
I hear the beating of a timba drum in my head. I force my eyes to focus on the small screen’s glow. It takes a full minute for awareness to dawn: today is the first day of school.
Luna pulls me down the driveway, from under the water oak’s giant canopy and across the street. I look up at the dark, cloudless sky, amazed that last night’s storms have subsided, ceding to morning’s clarity.
Hello, Orion, I whisper to hunter above my head.
Exiting the school yard and heading out the main road, I wonder if the street lamps will dim the shine of the celestial lights. Orion’s belt is fading from view.
Eyes on the sidewalk, defying the dog’s need to stop and sniff the grass along the curb, I urge her to pick up the pace. We jog across the strip mall parking lot; it’s mostly empty at this hour. As we pass the gas station and the hill edges upward, I’m inclined to break into a full run, to burst forth like daylight, which is just around the next corner. Only Luna senses danger; she smells the neighbor’s dog approaching from behind the trees. I coax her, with gentle murmurings, to wait until they pass.
One left turn, and we are close to home, where I will shed my sneakers and exchange Luna’s leash for car keys. Entering the neighborhood, I look up to catch a last glimpse of the night sky. I can still see his three stars winking back at me. Daylight is just around the corner.
In a few moments we’ll be home and the memory of Orion’s belt will fade completely. I squeeze my eyes shut, trying to conserve the energy unleashed by walking through twilight, wishing I could somehow pour it into my commuter mug, imagining I could drink it all afternoon.