Bananas, orange peels, lumps of cold scrambled egg, crusts of bread, non specific wetness on floors, pants, bed linens, on the your and Liza’s freshly donned shirts and smeared along with gelled goo across lower windows. Before this I fondly wiped them clean, picked them from drains and walked about with a dry rag and chamomile scented spray. That was the grandma-me. This is the tired old mom me. (I wonder at my impatience, yet also at my skill to manage it all mostly pretty well.)
On the way to school you say, “Are you still my grandma?” Of course, I answer. We just left Liza crying and exhausted from too early a rise (4:25 am) with Grandpa and a bottle. (for her, not him)
Are you thinking about me? I ask. “Yes. I think maybe you, (and you pause, giggling), you are my mommy now.” I love taking care of you and your sister, I tell you. “I love you, Grandma”, you sigh.
I left you at school with a card for Carl, who is leaving your school to “pursue other interests”. You wrote his name, Elena’s name and signed it with your name. You drew and airplane with big windows to see the clouds. I had never seen you write and neither had Carl. You felt so proud. Me too.
Liza awakened and Grandpa went to work. She is still fussing and I had to escape a minute by paying attention to you on the computer. We hired some help. Gina just graduated from UCSC Community Studies and has worked with several families and children. She starts next week for a day and then will come 3 days each week for a total of 20 hours. Mostly with Liza but you too sometimes. I may need to go back to work to afford all the help we need. But I’m too busy. Maybe mommy and daddy won’t take too long to become ready for you.
Mommy and Daddy say they are out of firewood. They forgot to think about it until it was gone. Now its very cold and the tent is beginning to mildew. Mommy says all your clothes and sheets are wrecked now. She will go have surgery soon to fix a hernia. I wish she had a warm place to heal. Our beds are all full. I asked her to tell a social worker that she needs shelter. Maybe they could rent a room in a house for a few months. Know anyone, buddy? Daddy has a little bit of money.
I am a lousy mom. I used to be a good one. And I used to be a good Grandma. Now I lose my temper, watch too much TV, drink wine each night and use the computer while I should be hanging out with you. I had no idea this me existed. But here she is. Right here typing while sissy plays on the floor with the dog’s disgusting food bowl. I’m too much for myself. Better stop typing. I love you, your gma-ma