i should have seen it coming, but i didn’t.
we were checking out books at the library, at the nifty self-service kiosk, all four kids & i. libraries are notoriously kid-friendly, so, being one of the few places i’ll venture by myself, my guard was down. & self-service kiosks, really. freaking brilliant. unless you’re attempting to maneuver one with an ambitious toddler & three other children, noses embedded in books.
my fatal mistake: not letting leif check out his own book.
without thinking, i whipped his picture book “we’re going on a bear hunt” through the bleeper & handed it to him, setting him down beside us so he could sit quietly & look at his book while i herded the other three kids through, their mountainous stacks too much for their small arms. you caught that, didn’t you? sit. quietly. you’d think i’d never met my own son. hello.
you can imagine the rest, but i don’t know if you’d get the part where leif was digging his fingernails into the back of kieran’s calves, trying to dismount him from the stool. & you might not picture the fit he threw, both in my arms & in the entryway after i abandoned thalia at the kiosk completely so i wouldn’t make such. a. scene.
i wanted you to have the full picture.
because the full picture also includes my total inability to keep track of all four of my kids in the library (or anywhere, who are we kidding?), get them out without at least two of them straggling, & my unbelievable concern of what the librarians, those sweet & genteel ladies, thought of me jumping ship on my 8-year-old & bear-hugging my toddler to prevent (anymore) physical harm to any by-standing siblings.
whenever i recount these stories to andy, he ALWAYS begins humming, quietly at first, the circus theme song.
if the shoe fits. . . .
the funny thing is, i’m surprised how much i care.
i mean, a long time ago i lost all my hair, & with it, i had to shed a whole heap of what people thought of me. i went from young woman with insanely long, straight, blonde hair to prickly bear who buzzes her scalp clean every other thursday.
this, from my coaching days. i’m holding a BULLDOG. with a CHAIN. you’re not even noticing my hair, are you. . . .
anyway, losing all my hair was the fear i was most afraid of in my life. i remember sitting at my grandma’s kitchen table when i was little, nervously stealing glimpses at my aunt in her red bandana. she also had alopecia (the latin name for “you have no hair & we can’t figure out why”.), which was really unusual, because we weren’t blood-related. (alopecia is sort of genetic.) i remember thinking, “if i ever lost all my hair like her, i would die.”
i had already started losing my hair then, but all of it didn’t fall out until 10 years ago, after i started having kids. i remember crying & crying in the shower as huge globs of hair just came out in my hands. it was really, really terrible. i had a little boy, & my whole life seemed to be imploding.
but it didn’t. & i didn’t.
& when the worst thing you can possibly imagine from the time you are very young happens, well, you don’t just cease to exist. you don’t. you live through it, so help you God, & when you start to see the other side, you realize going through that horrible valley sloughed a lot of other stuff, too.
which is why i’m so surprised i still care so very much what some anonymous (though kindly) librarians think of me. i mean, really. i may have 4 children mildly out of control, but they’re probably more concerned with my baldness & my nose ring. let’s be honest.
my attempt at a selfie a few weeks ago, to show you the shiner leif gave me with a head-butt first thing in the morning. thank you, honey. mommy loves you.
anyway, i’ve been wanting to crack open this cavern about being bald since i started writing in this space. i guess tonight was it.
one of a gazillion cartoons andy used to draw of us. we used to look like this. as cartoons, anyway.