Monday Mornings in my house are typical for us. Kat has her book bag fastened, her clothes on, teeth brushed, and my alarm hasn’t gone off. I try not to get my feelings hurt, but in her whole 8 years of life, she focuses on that one day, the one day people, in first grade, when I checked her in 30 minutes late because I slept in. Lola and I are both moaning, some days I am loudest, but not today. “I don’t want to get up!” I hear her moaning through the walls, Kat whispering, coaxing her.
“KAT!” I say in my grouchy voice. “The alarm has NOT gone off. What have I told you about waking Lola and I up before the alarm!!” She turns on my lamp, chipper, annoying me more, asking, “Mom, does this shirt match?” Kat loves to look like an 80s version of Madonna, but not for a fashion statement, but because she is 8, and not Lola. She is far more like me. Once I told her the fashion police were going to get her on an outfit, and she thought they were real people, coming for her out of the bushes at school, a thought that made me gut laugh, her face not amused. Lola loves to help me find something to wear, compliments all the beautiful ladies on their jewelry, sparkly shoes, makes suggestions to fellow shoppers on hair, nail polish, and lip gloss. Clyde pointed out Lola liked his watch. She flips through my clothes like my favorite gay man Carson, from that show where all the gays surprise attack straight men about their wardrobe. She would make the perfect gay man, my little Lola!
Her eyes light up when I dress up, straighten my hair, so I make more of an effort, while she rubs lotion on my legs, saying, “Mommy, how did you know I go to lotion school?”
Today, after changing her mind on shoes and dresses 3 times, annoying me to exhaustion, Lola decides on purple shoes, a floral dress, and asks Kat if they can eat breakfast in the lunch room. “YES!” Kat says, and they hug, and I am relieved. Then Lola makes this statement.
“Thank God I don’t have to sit at a table with a bunch of losers.”
Kat laughs so hard and I am shocked, asking things like, “Lola, where did you hear that?” and “Do you know there is no such thing as a loser?” and “Did someone at school say that?” I feel horror at the thought that she thought of it, said it, and doesn’t care. Kat has been a target of mean girls, as well as I, but Lola after being shushed by Tyler, something that would have broken Kat’s sensitive heart, said, “I told that boy to SHUSH his little mouth right back.” Uh, oh. Welcome to Lola in Kindergarten. Welcome to no parental controls.
“No mom.” I saw it on I Carly!” she says gleefully, and I groan, always telling Divorcee that show is too old for her. They are finally packed, in the car, and I say, “Lola, can I ask you something?”
“Are you remembering Papa? I heard you tell Clyde he was not nice, and you said something to Nana about him, remember?” There is silence, and I feel my heart pound. I nervously wait.
“Mom, member you said we have dark and colorful thoughts?”
I did remember. I had read a book that completely changed me, helped me understand my shadow, the part of me that grows from secrecy and shame, helping me to face all the skeletons in my closet, a place I have been going on days I am more brave than others, and I have felt tremendous growth and healing. I wanted the girls to know that dark thoughts were normal, okay, in all of us, and when we hide them, they grow. When we talk to them, forgive them, pray for them, they shrink, allowing our colorful selves to come out more bold and beautiful.
“I just was thinking a dark thought about Papa.” Gulp. Kat’s face becomes concerned. “What, Lola? What was it?” her hand on top of her sissy, such a little mother, my Kat.
“I didn’t want him to pway a game with me that would make me bweed,” she says, her tender baby talk made me want to cry. I saw that this is what happens when we as children fill in blanks, why it is so important to allow them to be a part of something they already know is happening, but we are afraid for our own reasons, to talk to them about what they already know. I was afraid because I don’t want to give them too much information that may hurt them, or let them think they are not loved, or even worse, put my pain on them.
Now I see it doesn’t ever matter. Kids are magical, and they always know, in their little spirits, that something is wrong.
“Lola,” I say with my voice all choked, my words unusually not confident, not with this, and I had been taken by surprise. Thank you for saying that dark thought, because I want to tell you something. Papa never played a game with you that could make you bleed, honey.” Kat face said I was full of it, a thought I tucked away for later, to ask her about. “Papa hurt mommy, and I saw him hurt Nana,” and I named my brothers, her face lighting up at the thought of each one, forgetting the subject matter like a five year old, but Kat pulled her back in.
“Mom, we have light and dark in us, but Papa CHOSE the dark,” and she said it like a spiritual force, her eyes and body posture aware she knew something I did not, and I do not argue that. Kat came here knowing things I can not explain, but she has been a teacher to me, not the other way around I have found, our bumps along the way proving that.
“True,” I said, but had to make my point. “Papa believed all the dark thoughts until they took him over, Kat. He is not evil or a bad man. He believes that he is not lovable, so he can’t love. Do you understand?”
“Yes, but mom, how do you know when you are believing the good thoughts from the bad?”
Lola raised her hand, the tips of her fingers I saw in the rear view mirror.
“I know!” Kat put her hand down, like a pack leader would, knowing we are all one here, a group, and she is a leader in the department of faith, not clothes.
Her face delighted to know the answer, her body bouncing up and down, she said, “When you feel really good in your tummy, all the great bootiful thoughts swim around up into your heart, and then, she paused, for dramatic flair, you are so happy you explode in the air and your hair turns different colors!!!”
Kat laughed, and I sighed. I could not argue that, and didn’t have time, the door flying open, Kat and Lola yelling at the same time, “BUENOS DIAS!” to the Spanish teacher, who laughed, smiled from her good colored place, helping them out while she told me to have a good day, in English.
They are up, down, grouchy, and unwanted. They are irritating, noisy, busy and changing with the colors of Lola’s shoes, but remain the same, like Kat’s turning on my lamp, every day, no matter how many times I tell her. I hate them and love them, for they force me up when I would rather sleep, and so I treasure today, for giving me the gift of Lola and Kat, polar opposites, but one in the same.
Yes, Kat, you are correct. I must make choices to define my day, to define my life, where I am headed is determined by my thoughts, rather light or dark, how I choose them will lead to how I live.
And yes, Lola, you are correct. Love comes from a place of light, where I feel alive, my heart on fire, my fingers itching for the keyboard, my thoughts jumping with creativity, passion, and joy. It makes me want to change my hair to the color red, just for Mondays, or for any day that is, when I want to bleed from love not pain, and that is where everything true lives, a place I want to see, not just visit, but live from. I can’t believe she was thinking of bleeding, associating Papa with a game that would make her fall, as he usually played fun games with them, throwing them up in the air, landing them on his lap like a rocket. No wonder she had been confused, his absence a mystery, my ignorance as a mother came from a place where I didn’t know for myself, much less for her and Kat, how to explain the dark from the light, pain from love.
I think I may make my peace with you today, Monday.
You remind me of all that I do not wish for, but comes for me just the same, my feet stomping, whining, and yawning still never stop you from arriving.
No, I will be braver. “I love you, Monday Morning.”
You are everything my life has been, a symbol of my fight to embrace what just is, and perhaps surrendering to you may just change my life, one thought at a time.
…My mom and I used to hear this song and cry, it coming over the radio all the time, reminding us of what felt never ending, a hell, a place you can’t wake up from. As I was writing, I heard the words hum to my head, a realization I see it differently today. For today, I bless love, in all its forms, that however it makes us bleed, may be the unwelcome Monday, asking us to surrender to the impossible..
For you, mom.