I felt the sting of emotion coming the second I asked, "What school do you go to?" As the miles gathered under the spinning tires the child in my backseat who I was driving home began explaining the logistics of daily her schedule.
What does it matter what school, way out here I wouldn't know the difference? What I really wanted to know was, what does your other life look like?
The life that doesn't involve leotards, and rotations, and late night driving.
What other life?
You can live as far away as you want, but it doesn't change anything.
Driving down a long dark highway at the exact same time, 5 days a week, in the middle of a board game, in front of an empty fridge, halfway through a book, an under or over cooked dinner on the stove, needing a shower, sick, tired, 3 loads of laundry to go.... time doesn't give a shit. Drop off by 3:29 pick up by 8:01.
At first, it felt like loneliness or perhaps fatigue but when the shell melted all I had left was the feeling of loss. Have we honestly been doing this for 6 years?!
I don't want to drive to Gym anymore. I want my life back.
I desperately miss normal. I miss the simplicity of the 1990's Jiff Mom: umbrella strollers, instant flavored coffee in tiny tins, KEDS, and GAP denim. I miss plain chicken and instant rice dinners on a perfectly set table.
Sandboxes and swingsets. Picture books and magazines. Car seats and plastic toys..... I miss a life I didn't really LIVE in. I know that beneath the waters of the tranquil sea was something so dark I should never look back fondly, but it's hard not too. Matching comforters and bed sheets, children running across the blacktop to the sound of the final school bell, PBS, naps, and a full table of normal.
I miss cutting sandwiches and serving them on small plates bulging with apple slices and greasy potato chips. I miss the wonder of the day and the possibilities. Homework, the zoo, the movies, and even sometimes the mall, and those chocolate chip cookies handed over the glass counter in wrinkly, thin paper.
I want to sit in the soft afternoon light, letting the day turn slowly into night.
I want to walk without purpose down the block, carry armloads of library books, and waste the weekends.
But I don't just miss it for me, I miss it for her.
A different pace of life, a different childhood.
I know I feel this way mostly because I have been sick.
Because it's Christmas and Christmas drowns me.
Because I am the "gym parent" and the load is feeling overwhelming. It's hard carrying it alone. It's hard watching non-gym parents breeze around the outskirts and not resent the unevenness in the sacrifices being made.
It's also because Season is building and she is struggling on beam. But when I think about her living in a landscape of normal I know she doesn't belong there... and for the same reasons I drive, the same reason I am the gym parent, Normal doesn't seem so important. Normal seems like a side dish. We can just try to fit it in where and when there is room.
Today is Sunday, perhaps we can let normal do some of the driving.