Close To Me

Scene: Morning on Spring Break, time to go outside and play. I’m going through the complicated maneuver of putting on Julianna’s shoes with a growth on my back.

Scene: 8:30 Mass on a Sunday morning. We’re sitting in the front pew–taking up the whole front pew– and it’s time to kneel down. Only I can’t. There’s only room for one knee at the very edge of the kneeler, because my three ambulatory children have decided they all need to inhabit the end where I’m sitting. I have to physically push children farther down the pew to make room for myself.

Scene: my nursing chair in the corner of my bedroom, with a baby who can’t decide if he wants to eat or play. Nicholas climbs up on the Medela foot stool and leans over top of the baby, who grunts and lets go the breast in order to concentrate on, I don’t know, BREATHING. Julianna takes flank position, leaning over the arm rest and putting her weight on my arm–the one trying to support Michael’s head at the breast. “Guys!” I say, exasperated. “Back off!” Michael wiggles and laughs.

Scene: Good Friday services. Christian is out of town, so I’ve called on my cousin to sit with us and help me wrangle children. They like my cousin. They’ve stayed at her house several times while I’ve had professional commitments. But they want nothing to do with her. As the service goes on, there is a silent but ongoing wrestling match for who gets to sit by Mommy. The end result is that between my cousin at the end of the pew and us there is a dead space of almost three feet, followed by five bodies piled on top of each other. When at last I hand the baby down to her–the only one who can’t move himself–Nicholas lights up and dives for my lap.

Perhaps I have a magnetic personality.