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January 2014
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March 2014

It's not a plane ride.

People comment, semi-regularly, on the size of my family. "Oh my goodness, are they all yours?" or "YOU have your hands full!" or "My goodness, how will you ever pay for college?" (Note to the world: that last question makes me cry right now. Think you can live with making the dishevelled mom cry in the post office? Go ahead, then.)

I find these comments weird for a few reasons. First of all, it's just four kids, people. Fifty years ago this would have been entirely unremarkable. Clay was one of six kids and they and his parents all survived with sanity and good humor intact. We're not actually all that outrageous.

But most of all, I'm surprised by their comments because my family doesn't seem all that big. Don't get me wrong, I feel completely overwhelmed by them - often - but it's not because there's too many of them, it's because there's too little of me. But I don't have four generic children, I have Tre, and Max, and Raphael, and Sophia. They're remarkable not because of their number, but because of who they are, and what's overlarge is the hole left behind when one of them is missing. 

That said, there are a few times when the size of my family does strike me anew. One of those is when we're getting on a plane. We line up, everyone clutching their rumpled boarding pass, and as I look around for what might have been left behind, I see us, all in a row, and I'm startled. LOOK at all those people! It seems like we'll never be done filing past the flight attendant. 

That one's not so bad, because hey, we're getting on a plane! Something good is probably happening, right? But there's another situation that makes me ultra aware of how many kids I have, and it's one we're in the middle of right now. 

It started Tuesday, when I picked Max up from school. He collapsed into the passanger's seat, shedding possessions everywhere. His phone immediately buzzed, frantic that he'd been failing to text for four seconds at least. As he tappitytaptapped, he said casually, "Demi was only here for a half day today."

"Really? Why?"

"She had to go to the doctor."

"Oh? Is she okay?"

"She's been throwing up all week. She has something...what was it? Begins with an 'n'?"

My heart sank. No. Nonononononono.

"Norovirus?"

"Yeah, that's it."

Demi, you should know, is Max's girlfriend. So it's not like she's a friend who waved at him from across the room. They've been enthusiastically exposing each to the other's germs for weeks. Norovirus? GAH.

Sure enough, Max got sick that night. I don't think, in eighteen and a half years of parenting, I've ever seen anyone throw up that much or that hard. It was impressive. Two days later, he's still a limp dishrag of a boy. 

And now my life's work is swabbing down the world with Clorox wipes and monitoring the other kids for signs of illness. Do you know how contagious norovirus is? Other viruses, like the flu, require an exposure to roughly 1,000 viruses to be transmitted. Norovirus only requires 18. I am desperately disinfecting and praying that none of the rest of the family gets it.

And today, my dears, I feel like I have an enormously large family. 

EDITED TO CORRECT: So the first time through, I called this rotovirus, when it's actually norovirus. It does not matter, but I had to set it straight. I am kind of dumb.


Not my game

Have you heard there's some sort of football game this weekend?

Super bowel

*sigh* Spell check doesn't catch every error, people. 

So if you are aware of the big game this weekend, you're probably also aware that our Broncos are playing. We Denver(ish) residents are very excited. Go, Broncos!

Actually, I don't care.

I went to a Broncos game once, with my ex husband, back when he was just "my husband." My dad gave us tickets - great tickets. We sat so close to the action that when Ed McCaffrey broke his leg that night, we heard it snap.

That's what I remember about the game. Denver fans are notorious for their noisy support of their team, but my memory of that night is silent, like it was suspended in amber, with only three sounds: the national anthem, a breaking bone, and the shuttle ride back to our car.

Let me explain. This game, it was September 10, 2001. When the national anthem was sung, I looked around, and the only other voice I heard was my ex husband's. He is a first generation Mexican American, and he knows what citizenship is worth. The next day, when the towers fell, the whole nation rallied to sing together, but I remembered the crowd chatting during the anthem the night before, and wondered how much it all meant.

And then, during play, the crack of poor Ed's leg made everyone flinch. Since becoming a mother, I've found it harder to shake off others' pain. I wanted to throw up or walk away, but who leaves in the middle of a Broncos game? Not my ex, that's for sure. He was a huge Broncos fan - still is, I'm sure. Sometimes I have to remind myself that he's still alive, scrolling out his days somewhere else. If you create life with someone, and then never see them again, do they continue to be alive? 

And we had created life. Raphael was just shy of three months old. It was the first time I'd left him; it was supposed to be a date. But my ex, he had secrets, and I was slowly coming to understand that his silence wasn't because he was stunned by this beautiful third son of ours. I did not know what to say to him. He was swivelling back and forth between deciding what he wanted and trying very hard not to think about it. That's brutally hard work. After the game, as we rode the shuttle back to the parking lot, we each looked out opposite windows and wept, without words. We weren't even arguing. We were just unspeakably sad. It was one of the few true moments of the end of our marriage. He would be gone in another month and a half, and although it shocked me when he left, part of me already knew that night.

St. Augustine said that to forgive someone is simply to surrender the desire for revenge. I say that as though I'm someone who regularly (or ever) reads St. Augustine's work. I just read it in a blog somewhere. I like it, though, because I think I can attain that, most days. I don't think I'll ever be able to have uncomplicated thoughts about my ex. He is entirely gone from my life and that is for the best, yet I live with three echoes of him whom I love more than air. Will I ever resolve it all? No, I don't suppose so. Some breaks just never heal right. But to just let go of wanting him to hurt? I can do that, and every time it feels like being let out of prison.

Sometimes people will ask if I'm a Broncos fan. I shrug and say lightly, "eh, my ex got them in the divorce." My sons certainly are fans. They're hoping fervently for a win tomorrow. 

For me? I don't mind. It's not my game, anyway.