“What do you mean you can’t find your sweatshirt?! The bus will be here in 3 minutes! Get upstairs and FIND it!” She raked her fingers back through her curly hair, catching on knots and adding frizz to the already tangled mess brought on by the humid dawn. The sun wasn’t even completely over the horizon, and she’d already been hunkered down, searching and crawling around looking for lost things for an hour. Shoes. Socks. Homework. Backpacks. The more she looked, the hotter the anger and frustration bubbled up.

It’s the same fight and struggle of every mother: put your crap away. pick up after yourself. wash up. no food in your bed! pick up your crap. PICK UP YOUR CRAP. Only this morning, as she lifts the edge of the couch and peer under, the go-gurt wrappers, Legos, socks, missing church shoes (WHERE were these yesterday?!) papers, scissors, remote controls, an iPod, and a some missing keys greet her. There is yelling. She is not proud, and the missing sweatshirt is not found, and the boy gets on the bus without a kiss goodbye, while the younger ones run for their flashing, waiting bus down the street. She stands at the curb, arms crossed, in her pajamas, feeling the sting of stereotype and fighting back hot swirling tears of frustration and regret. She hates starting the day this way. She wishes this was the first time.

Life is swirling around her, eddying at her ankles, pulling the sand out from under her feet in a constant tug, leaving her dizzy and unsure where to step next. She had imagined this quarter off of school would be a respite, a way to catch her breath and remember who she was before grad school started. Instead, the old tripe about nature abhorring a vacuum was daily illustrated in technicolor, and she couldn’t seem to get a grip, let alone ahead.

The weeks were flying by; there were IEP’s (yes, more of them), scouts, interviews, test prep, tutoring, snarls with the DMV, a fender-bender, doctor appointments for the kids, procurement of records, snafus with the bank, denial of EBT benefits, appeals, callings, lessons, back to school night, parent-teacher conferences with the non-IEP kids and on and on it rolled. She had another interview to set up, and two tests to take, but couldn’t find a place giving them in the window she needed. It might mean travel, and that would mean more nightmares. And the holidays were starting to swell before her and she knew when she turned around, the wave would crash in a heave of chaos.

She watches the giant ochre busses groan and roll down the street, and waves feebly at the dark reflecting windows in which she sees not her children, but the reflection of the morning sky. She hopes they can see her, and that for today, it’s good enough.

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