Six years ago when Khary and I were hunting out new digs, we looked at a one-bedroom penthouse overlooking the city. It had hardwood floors and a spacious kitchen. It might have had a fireplace. What I remember most was the deck. It was equal in size to the apartment itself—one that screamed: When does the party start? The penthouse was beautiful and unreasonable and unique and personally created for someone that didn’t believe in sexual reproduction. We laughed at the grandiose nature of having wall-to-wall windows that no one can see in, and the space to entertain a party of twenty-five plus on a rooftop.
Three years later we had the ability to rent the party palace but there was a baby in the belly and we needed practicality.
It may not be a penthouse—it may not even be clean—but we’ve got ourselves a little apartment under the clouds. They have yet to reach preschool but tomorrow (it seems) the girls will be heading off to college. I have imagined having a Claire Huxtable moment, were one of them to say that she wants to change her mind and drop out of school. “Change it back! After all that money we spent sending you to Princeton? Sondra, you owe US seventy-nine thousand six hundred and forty-eight dollars and twenty-two cents! And I want my money NOW!”
There are days when I want the view from my imaginary penthouse back. As if I ever had it in the first place.
But then there are the Mother’s Days. I just celebrated my third and I was reminded (again) how much I love my girls. I can always count on cuddles from Jocelyn, but it was the most precious and beautiful gift from Aja that stood out: she sat completely still while I combed her hair out after a bath. This may not seem like a lot but her usual response is to run away and, if caught, bend over backwards and screech as though I were trying to pluck out her eyeballs with the tip of the comb. And this is the child with the more-manageable hair. Khary thinks it was the Yo Gabba Gabba that was playing that calmed her, but I believe that she knew it was what I wanted. She certainly didn’t cooperate on my birthday—going to daycare without even a half-assed top pony (no half-assed pony equals mixed baby afro).
I try to appreciate the small moments so that the bigger ones (the ones that involve lots of tantrums and No’s and time-outs), however temporary, don’t shape the meaning of the day. Last night, after returning from a day in Santa Cruz, the girls were hyped up on chocolate and Nana-time. A half-hour after putting them to bed there was still a medley of conversation/screams echoing from the girls’ room. I paid little attention until I realized what Jocelyn was saying.
“Okay Aja? One, two, three, four…lay down Aja. Lay down! Okay? One, two, three, four…lay down Aja! You need to lay down.”
Aja just laughed. Were she able, she would sleep standing up.