I returned home yesterday from a trip, a sad but necessary trip that I'm blessed to have taken.
The plane gradually descended over the desert surrounding Phoenix, and I thought to myself, You dusty, dirty, crummy desert town...boy am I glad to see you again!
I remember when I used to fly into Phoenix before I lived here; I thought it was the bleakest desert city one could possibly imagine. But, now? Well, for good or ill, it's home.
My handsome husband was at the airport. After a full week devoid of my company, he didn't look one bit desperate or ill. He wasn't even slightly skinnier from pining for me. I forgive him, I guess, because he did seem happy to see me and grateful to have his baby boy home, too. And my little girl was dancing with excitement at seeing Mama. She even held my hand which is something she refuses to do under normal circumstances.
The house was fairly clean when I walked in, and a homemade birthday sign was brilliantly decorated by my sweet family. Crafted fall decorations adorned the walls.
"Mama, there's a birthday cake in the freezer," blurted out Gabriella.
This I had to see. Nope, nothing in the freezer, but I soon found it in the fridge. Amazing! And Matthew even let the kids help make it (which considering all the baking disasters he's witnessed, was really quite brave).
I should have felt it, though. The layer of calm in our home like fine, settled dust - as if the house had had a good long snooze in my absence. It was just beginning to open one eye a few hours after I'd entered, thinking sleepily to itself, Now, who is that lady? I'd best remember...I have a bad feeling....
A storm rolled in when Matthew left to pick up our two older children-lightning, thunder, torrential rain. Like a bad movie that relies on environmental cues to forecast the feelings of the actors.
When Matthew got back, Ella got into the cake. Berto told on her.
"Ella, come here!" said Matthew sharply. She came, and he pulled her closer. "Did you touch the cake?"
After a mumbled answer in the affirmative, his discipline was swift. Then: "I already told you not to touch it!" he said sternly.
Ahhh! I thought. The Rule of Law. And I knew exactly how it had been while I was gone. Then, this morning, I woke up to reality. My reality.
The kids tried on their footy pajamas I'd bought for them in Idaho (such things cannot be found in the desert, unless there's a lost Ice Age clan of sweaty, very sweaty and possibly very stinky, nomadic footy-pajama wearing people). Ella had hers on already, and when Ana was done flopping around like a fish to manuever into hers, she went to zip it up. Ella made a dive for the zipper.
"No, Ella," said Ana in protest.
"No, meeeee!" screamed Ella in response, yanking at the zipper.
"It's my footies!" responded Ana in a squeal.
"No-ho-ho-ho-ho!" yelled Ella, jumping up and down with the zipper still in hand.
"Now girls..." I began in feeble, sleep-deprived protest.
They didn't hear me, because Ana had pushed Ella back, and Ella had planted her feet, tensed her little body and thrown back her head to begin the warning howl of tantrum.
I fearfully edged closer. "If you don't stop, I might have to do something..."
Suddenly Matthew blazed in with his fancy work shoes, khaki pants and coordinated polo...oh, and his extremely stiff coiffure around which he maintains a five foot perimeter. One could almost see him slinging back his duster to expose his six-shooter or whatever the heck an old West sheriff might use.
"Ella, here now!" he bellowed.
She approached, abashed.
"You stop this right now, do you hear?" said my Wyatt Earp.
Her response was the equivalent of: "Yes, sir, Sheriff. Why, I won't be messin' with nobody's footie pajamas no more. Not ever, Sheriff - I swear!"
Matthew stalked off. Then he left for work. I was the deputy he left in charge of a lawless town. I thought about my cirumstances while the residents of that town (my children) sloshed juice down their gullets and ate chocolate cake for breakfast.
Two seconds after we were all in the car to go to school, before we'd even pulled out of the driveway, Berto and Ana started fighting and pushing each other.
"Did you guys do this when Papa drove you to school?" I asked.
That stopped them in their tracks. You could see the realization hit their faces.
"No," Berto responded, befuddled. He and Ana looked at each other as if to say, Weird.....
I nodded my head. The Rule of Law.