My morning job recognizes Indigenous Peoples Day. So a few months ago, when I was putting in my time off requests for the rest of the year, I requested Monday off for my afternoon job. At the time, I did not know two things: 1) that my daughter’s school would revoke this first day of fall break and ask that students do distance learning instead, and 2) that I would give in and withdraw her for homeschooling the week before fall break. Since I control the school schedule now, I reinstated her day off. She needs a full week after what she’s been through since August. (We all do, tbh.)
I received my flu shot last month, and Anya got hers at her 9-year checkup. Since I was to be off Monday, one of R’s usual days off, I scheduled Kai’s flu shot for that day: Two adults are better than one in these situations. So of course R was called in on Monday, leaving me to handle my bucking, terrified 5-year-old on my own. He fought so hard that he had to have the shot in his leg while the nurse and I bodily restrained him. Anya and I cried right along with him. At bedtime, Kai informed me solemnly that if I ever made him go back to the doctor again, he would stop loving me forever. “No more love left in my heart for you, Mama.” I told him gently that being his mom means I have to take care of him and keep him healthy, and that if he had to stop loving me, so be it — that I would never, ever stop loving him. He gave me some remorseful hugs and kisses after that, and he fell asleep holding my arm. What stings isn’t the words he said but what I know it cost him to say them. I am his sun and moon, and I held him down while a stranger hurt him. In time he will understand that it was for his own good, but right now he is confused and hurt — and who wouldn’t be?
Monday evening, as I was preparing dinner, I noticed our koi, Espada, was acting strangely. Glassy eyed and slowly moving her mouth while resting diagonally at the bottom of the tank. Twenty minutes later, she was dead. R and Anya buried her in the backyard, and nobody was terribly interested in dinner after that. (That’s fish funeral number 4, for those of you counting at home. Daddy flushed Bubbles, Ben Connor, and the OG Princess Cupcake, but Mr. Pickles, Princess Cupcake II, and Angel were all interred.) Daddy picked up some tiny neon fish at the pet store later that evening, which took some of the sting out of the loss, but Monday was a day.
In between those moments, though, there was joy. It was a gorgeous autumn day. We played I Spy with the blazing fall leaves, marveling at the showers of them blowing across our windshield. I treated the kids to cake pops after the shot. After we returned home from the doctor, we all cuddled together on the couch and watched movies. The kids don’t often have me all day with no responsibilities before us; the lack of a to-do list and uninterrupted Mommy time was a welcome treat. I can’t remember the last time I sat down and watched a whole movie with them without doing something productive at the same time.
“How was your day off?”
“Good,” I reply. And it was good, mostly. Just as 2020 has brought joy and discovery and wonder alongside the pain and loss and hardship. It’s a bittersweet good. The kind of good that will look better in hindsight. The kind of mixed-bag good that you learn and grow from.
2020 good is a thing.