The Final Grocery List
Countdown to Daughter #2: One day!
The third and final Tot Grocery List landed in my e-mailbox, late yesterday afternoon. It reads:
I am heartened by two things here: one, that she is planning to wash down all of these faux-bacon/faux-cheese/faux-foods with something semi-almost-healthy, like orange juice ...
... and two, that she has ordered stuff that we're probably going to be able to FIND here in our local Bay Area grocery stores.
(We located the "big Fritos" for Jaymi, finally, but we had to go to a bunch of stores first. We're still looking for the Tim's Cascade Potato Chips that Kyle requested. And I'm beginning to seriously question the existence of Reese's Puff Cereal: I think my children are just making that one up to keep me busy.)
Daughter #2 -- aka Kacie, my lithe, lovely, mysterious seventeen-year-old -- enters our Zip Code tomorrow night. Like her sister and brother before her, she will spend the next few days squished into four-hundred square feet of Castle. Like her sister and brother before her, she will be spending at least part of that time home alone, while David and I are at work. Like her sister and brother before her, she will be escorted all around the Bay Area on the days when David and I aren't at work ... treated to all of the Chinese food, tacky souvenirs and new school clothes her heart desires ... photographed mercilessly ... pampered outrageously ... and then delivered to the airport on Sunday night with heavy suitcases (and heavier hearts) and sent home to TicTac.
UNLIKE her sister and brother before her, I won't worry for a millisecond about her being *bored.* Just point her in the direction of the phone.
Of my three children, Kacie is the most interesting puzzle.
I love her much like a gardener loves a rare and lovely flower, blooming spontaneously in the garden one bright spring morning: with a deep appreciation for its beauty, and for its unique fragrance, and for the complexity of its design ...
... and with absolutely zero idea how it got there in the first place.
There have been times when I was certain she was the Tot most like me: my fair skin and blue eyes, my rollercoaster emotions, my quest for spiritual connection in all things ... and other times when I have been equally certain that two human beings could not be more unalike: the fact that she could turn a perfect double cartwheel at age three, for instance, while I'm still trying to figure out jumping jacks.
When she was little, she was certain that I didn't love her. At least, not in the same way I loved her older sister (and, later, her baby brother). Even when she was a toddler, if I scolded or reprimanded her about anything -- even the slightest infraction of household rules -- she would stomp out of the room, blue eyes filled with tears, shouting "YOU DON'T LOVE ME." I spent the first thirteen years of her life trying to convince her that my love for her was every bit as deep and true and constant as the love I felt for my other two children.
And then of course I fudked it all up by running away.
I don't want to say that Kacie was the Tot most deeply damaged by my leaving. They were all bruised, in one way or another.
But unlike her brother and sister, she was actually there, the afternoon I left.
She wasn't supposed to be. No one was supposed to be there. I thought I had it timed perfectly: I would sneak into the house during my lunch hour, grab the laundry basket of personal belongings I had carefully packed and hidden beneath my desk the night before, and be out of there before anyone could walk in and stop me. Kacie surprised me by coming home early, just as the Oregon Boyfiend and I were loading the laundry basket into his Jimmy. Although the possibility of Mom "going away" had been discussed that summer, off and on ... although the depths of Mom's unhappiness (and the level of Mom's dysfunction) were no secret in that sad sick household, I don't think either one of us were prepared for the intensity of Kacie's reaction, once she realized what she was witnessing.
Hers was the voice I heard in my heart as I crossed the Oregon/Washington border the next day. The expression on her face, as she stood in the driveway sobbing while we drove away, still haunts my sleep.
I will spend the rest of
my life trying to
repair the damage of those fifteen terrible minutes.
So will I be sad when all of the Tot Visits are over, after this weekend?
Will I be exhausted and bruised and dead-broke and totally out of clean towels when all of the Tot Visits are over, after this weekend?
Will you have to put up with at least a weeks' worth of weepy, whiney journal entries, all about how *quiet* The Castle is, and how I keep stumbling across things they've inadvertently left behind, and how I miss them, and how I would do the whole exhausting month over again in a heartbeat, when all of the Tot Visits are over after this weekend?
What do you think?