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Mom From Another Room

My three year old is sick, again. I press the humidifier tank against the water dispenser. The minute I start filling it, I hear a muffled "Mommy?" shouted from the next room.

I wish I could describe the feelings that shoot through my body when I hear my second name. Specifically "Mommy" From Another Room. Or Mommy Right When There's A Fan or Water On; Anything That's too Loud for me to Actually Hear You.

I think "why now?" I could yell "hang on", and sometimes I do. But I turn off the water and I say "yeah?" with a throttled zap of testy energy.

Five's answer is unintelligible. I could ask her to repeat it, but I shrug and return to filling the tank.

I go upstairs and set the tank in the unit. Turn it on. Think how it's always empty in the morning; little bulb flashing red. Every time, I wonder: what time of night did it run out of water? Piteously, I compare myself to the tank. Out of juice. Out of patience. Out of free time.

Three is already asleep, his jaw slack, eyelids fully settled. I think about the current "in" thing that bothers me. Tongue-in-cheek jokes about peoples' kids losing an argument. Their laughable naiveté, shared with adults who are so proud to know better. I think about how sometimes I participate because, who am I kidding, it feels kind of great sometimes. I mean, they own my life. They boss me around, they're rude a lot. What other ammo do I have?

I think again about Mommy From Another Room, and I guess it really goes both ways. I yell their names from another room, too. Always rushing them to do stuff that it sucks to have to do. Now is no time for playing. Clean up. Get ready, and quickly. Chores and schedules, all day. And compared to us, all these regimens are so new to them.

It has to be harder for them than it is for me.

I go back in the den, sit next to five on the couch. I hand her chocolate covered cherries. She asks what they are, and I make her take a bite first. I tell her they're chocolate covered bugs, then worry she'll believe me and get upset. Then I tell her what they are. She smiles my favorite smile. The one that's shaped like a frown, and looks like her trying not to smile. Mommy-in-the-Room feels much better.

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