The room is elegant with burnished wood furnishing and clean-lined art. The air smells like eggs benedict and ketchupped hash browns and as Jude suddenly places his finger in my eyeball socket, I spot family friends through the other bleary eye.
They’re sitting at a table for 4, civilized. The boy, Nolan’s age, is wearing bright skinny jeans and a striped shirt, and cutting into his food in a neat fashion. In the moment or two before they all see us: I take them in. Mom’s sporting a jaunty toque and a cute sweater, Dad is refined and has definitely combed his hair this morning. They are talking about something, you can hear them murmuring under the din of the clinking silverware of the restaurant, but they are most certainly not talking about who it was that farted, like we would have been. They’re having serious, provocative conversation, likely about their impending trip to South Africa.
I take a deep breath because I know that we are about to disrupt their civility, their quiet Sunday morning brunch. Jude squirms out of my grasp to carry out his developing nefarious scheme to overthrow the waitress, and Nolan waves loudly at his friend.
My elder son’s shirt is on inside out and backwards, and to add insult to injury, there’s a day-old reddish stain down the fuzzy front. Jude steals a crayon from the hostess stand and scrawls on my leg.
“Hi!” I wave at our friends weakly,”Hi. We’ll be momentarily ruining your peace.”
There’s so many things I’d forgotten about Nolan’s early years. I’d forgotten the crazy constant chatter, the fearful lurch you always carry around in your heart as you’re forced to save your drunk toddler from committing involuntary suicide dozens of times a day. I’d forgotten about the wake ups in the night and the chaotic explosion of the all, about the total absence of quiet. Jude will be two in February, and Nolan will go into Grade 4 next year. Sometimes I think about the fact that Jude will be commencing kindergarten when Nolan starts high school and I desperately want a plastic bag, or a vodka.
I can’t imagine my life any other way, of course, but I look at other Moms in their late thirties and they are so calm because their children are now reasonable people. They’ve forgotten what it’s like to wrangle a miniature belligerent drunk all day, and they feel pretty damned good about that. There’s no cheerio shrapnel stuck to their earrings and they don’t carry diapers in their expensive purses and their car is not full of shameful rotting items. I see them chatting in the school yard sometimes and I wonder if they appreciate the quiet that laps at their life, if they even notice the wet toilet paper stuck inexplicably to the wheels of our car.
OK, it’s worth it. It’s mangled and messy and it often stinks to high heaven but dammit, it’s worth it.