I walk in the cold morning air cognizant of the fact that Laddu is in her carseat and probably straining to get out. I grab the empty recycle bin and hear a sound that make me whip around. Ammu is visibly sobbing and running toward me. The time is 8:16 AM.
We run, the two of us. She grabs a different pair of shoes and I am already backing out of the garage. She slides into the car and slams the door shut. I drop her off at the bus stop pausing only to kiss her and remind her to find the smile I packed into her pocket for her. Her face lights up and for a moment the day feels transformed.
Pattu presses her face against the window as only a child can, full of love and expectation. I beckon her over to the drivers side and she gets a kiss as well. She runs off promising to keep an eye on Ammu.
Laddu walks ahead of me in the way a child with good sleep and a full tummy does. I ask her if she wants a flower and she stops. I climb the grassy mound and pick one from a tree in bloom. A magnificent pink umbrella shielding us from a grey sky. I hand it over to her and she marches ahead so sure of herself that I am envious.
It has been over a week of adulting. Doctor appointments, paying bills, setting out the trash, doing groceries, cutting vegetables, planning meals, running loads of laundry, folding and putting away clothes, helping with homework, mediating, negotiating and non stop being an adult.
Then there are the decisions. Big girl decisions like caring for parents, running interference, initiating life changing events. It hits me that I am officially at the zenith. If it has been a slow climb into adulthood, from this point on it plateaus before I make the slide to the nadir. There is no looking for advice anymore. There is no passing off responsibility. There are no crutches to lean on or people to hide behind. The decisions I make on behalf of my family, my mom, my father in law are all on me.
The decisions in themselves are simple but behind them are huge exercises in determining priority. My children or my parent? My convenience or sacrifice? Everyday hassle or living with guilt. There are no right or wrong answers. Just forks we take on the journey hoping to reach the end with as little damage as possible.
I survey the now empty home, silent save the sound of the dishwasher. For a minute it occurs to me this is how it would be like to single parent except for the niggling thing called earning an income. For all my fears of the unthinkable, the worst has been about how I would raise kids. This week has been an exercise in understanding what that would be like.
I have been far more patient knowing there is no good cop waiting in the wings. I have pled when I would have yelled. I have been firm where I would have given in. I have been judicious in my use of time when I would have sat and browsed for hours on end. I have cooked full meals despite a hearty dislike of cutting vegetables. In essence, I have grown up, put my big girl pants on and dealt with it.
This adulting thing? It is hard but not impossible.