Makaila holds them in the air confidently and together in unison, “check.”
Lola likes this game, a competitive little thing she spots it under my seat, holds it up and shouts, “GOT IT!”
I feel the anxiety rise, in the form of fearful thoughts as I breathe deep, feeling the weight of that much like an invisible foot, pressing deeply into my chest.
“Where’s my phone?”
“Got it,” Kat says in that snarky preteen way, pulling my iPhone out her back pocket to scroll my apps like a pro.
I live in a world of logic, a place ruled by efficiency and time management.
Twenty years ago, I only had to worry about my alarm in the morning.
Now I hear Lola’s game loudly playing on the iPad coming from the back seat, Kat’s FaceTime phone conversation with Camilla as she adjusts the radio to a higher volume, my hand slapping hers playfully. The sounds of my blinker, Siri telling Kat what day her birthday is, the horn of an angry woman and yelling makes me forget the music volume entirely.
She is screaming at another car like someone just abducted her child, flipping the bird in the air she speeds by me, on her cell phone the entire time.
My GPS begins to talk as I nod acknowledgement to Lola who chatters constantly, not hearing a word she is saying.
It is fifteen minutes of the same red light, cars pumping their breaks in anticipation to pull into the parking lot, where there are more angry people, fighting over what looks like a parking space. I nervously check and recheck their Claire’s gift cards, my Paypal card, which I can’t find at first, so I check faster as I motion to Kat to be patient, shake my finger at Lola who at any minute could be in the middle of the street.
“Found it.” I exhale in relief, the door shutting behind me which I do not lock, just in case.
I have had too many terrifying incidents of locking my keys in the car, dangling in the ignition I see them, just as it is about to rain.
I can’t go through it today.
I do smile at the girls who are the most blessed gifts and reminders to feel the joy in life, who point out the half turned Apple sticker on my car bumper.
It was Kat’s idea to put it there after one night losing my van in a massive outlet store parking lot. She was horrified.
She decided there were way too many grey vehicles in the world so we needed a way to spot it.
“Genius!” I told her, hugging her to try and overcompensate for the guilt I feel.
She only pats these days, a brief pat to the back in no presence of teenagers is all I hope for in recognition that we are okay.
Even then, I suspect she must be in the greatest mood, so I seize the opportunity to lock her in a body tight hug, which she screams, but I don’t care.
Lola thought it was the best thing ever, being driven around by the security guard in a real golf cart, but not Kat.
I wince thinking of how I must affect her, being so much like her Daddy, life makes sense in lists, schedules, routines, and chores.
That was the year she wanted only a label machine so she could nicely line her crayons and pens to label them.
“No toys?” I asked her, Lola and I making astonished eye contact at the thought of the reality one might want a label machine, a bad joke to us.
I knew we were each other’s worst nightmare if not handled sensitively.
So, I let her be the grown up adult she came in the world being, let her be in charge of the things that give her anxiety, like the Apple sticker, which makes her a great problem solver.
“Okay,” I sighed.
“Mom, can I have her toy?” Lola asked, her eyes twinkling in mischief.
So, today I cringe over Kat, her pointing out the genius of her Apple sticker reminds me that I must drive her bonkers.
I was already tired and we hadn’t even crossed one thing off our list.
Living in this world can feel excruciating at times, but it never fails that my perception of the women around me can make it that much worse.
I see a woman with four children and a mountain of items piled neatly, her children in matching boutique clothing, a monogram baby bag hangs off the cart.
“Is she actually wearing lipstick?” I think as I stare, for this to me is a regular epiphany that I am existing on the wrong planet.
Four kids under the age of ten and the fucking woman has on perfect lipstick, manicured feet and probably every item on her list and it isn’t even noon.
“Bitch.” I think in my head and laugh.
If you can’t be one of them, you might as well be in rebellion against them.
Most days I have a sense of humor and love of adventure that drives me through the anxiety, letting me shrug it off, remind Kat that spontaneity isn’t always a bad thing, playing loud music and car dancing to make my point.
Today it feels like a heavy blanket of hopelessness, not just guilt for not behaving up to Kat’s expectations but shame, which is much worse than guilt.
Guilt is the feeling of not liking what you do but shame is the feeling of not liking who you are.
The last stop to the QT for gas and I am depleted of all my energy and my head is pounding from the noises, my hands actually hurt from gripping the wheel too tightly.
When it was our time to pay, I realize I left my debit card in the car.
Lola tells the line of people and the lady not to worry, that her mom has “ADULT DISORDER DEFINITELY” or “A.D.D.” and they all laugh hysterically.
Leave it to Lola to play my own coping mechanism perfectly.
Make them laugh, let them believe you’re crazy, making fun of yourself always wins friends and gets you invited back for playdates.
The laugh makes it all okay for her, Kat groans “What now?” and I want to cry.
On good days I have the ability to laugh at myself whole heartedly, but not today.
Today I am dying.