When I was little I used to bite my fingernails. A disgusting habit that carried me well into my teen-years. I finally broke free of it when I started wearing acrylic nails. I’m embarrassed to even admit that I wore them. I would endure the layers upon layers of toxic chemicals and an hour every week in the nail salon just so I could point at things with a casual authority. Oh look, the directions say to go this way, and then my hand would manage to find my chin while I stroked my jaw line with all the awkward conviction of a child wearing an oversized glove. I’d strum my long thick fingernails on the table, just to really drive the point home that I paid for these pieces of plastic on the ends of my fingers, and I was going to draw as much attention to them as I possibly could.
Thruuump, thruuump, thrummp.
I remember I got talked into wearing them on my wedding day, and every time I looked down at my hands that day, with new nails and a ringed finger, I kept thinking that they didn’t belong to me. Those must be someone else’s hands. They belonged to someone older, someone classier. We went to Paris on our honeymoon, and I pointed to something, a piece of art at the Pompidou maybe, and it all felt so foreign; the hand, the country, the marriage.
I’ve since come home, and my hands and marriage feel like my own, but I have started biting my nails again, along with the hardened pieces of skin around my nails that just beg to be gently torn off with my teeth.
I blame this on summer. Summer with it’s promises of greatness, it’s lazy cadence, and warm and carefree breezes have all catapulted me into a new type of crazy.
I think for me, summer has really convinced me that I am a mother to three children.
You know for some people when something crazy, or great, or unreal happens to them they say, “It still hasn’t sunk in.”
Well for me, it has finally sunk in. Three people call me mommy, and while I am in love with each of them, and and adore being a mommy, all three of them at once is really starting to cramp my style.
Lately the hardest part has been the constant arguing from my 6 and 3 year old.
At the beginning of summer when school had just got out, they relished in being near each other. They would play for hours upstairs building forts and dressing up, turning doll shoes and trucks into fake food, or they’d do a series of artistic renderings of my face on watercolor paper. And on a rare occasion they would pause and do something thoughtful for me: sweep the bathroom floor or feed the dog. I thought summer was for lovers, and I was in love.
Then slowly at first, there was a sea change. The hours of uninterrupted play time turned into 30 minutes tops before I heard shrieking, crying and the unmistakable hollow sound of a blow to the back.
I guess it was inevitable. I actually thought I had highly evolved children. Like somehow I was the exception, “Oh my children never fight. They are each other’s best friends.” Well the egg is now on my face. Turns out they are not highly evolved, but instead Hudson is a cry baby, and Berlyn is a tattletale.
So my nails get shorter. I munch them while waiting in line at Trader Joe’s as I watch Hudson rearrange all the candy bars and Berlyn slap his hand and tell him not to. I tear off a large piece of skin while they violently argue over who gets to open the automatic door at Nordstrom. I’m out of things to do. We did VBS, we did the library, art projects, lemonade stands, nature hikes, beach, pool, water park, we did picnics, farmer’s markets, zoo, lunch with friends and park dates. Now I’m out of activities, my kids are out of patience, and my fingers are out of nails.
Summer can end now.