In the mountains, there you feel free
T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land
I was cutting up berries this morning, into a small container for Sophie's lunchbox. The boys were careening around the house, messing around, fighting, yelling, playing. Feed the dog, I yelled. Put on your socks. Turn off your bedroom light. What time are you going to the concert? The Husband asked as he ripped the plastic bag off the newspaper and opened it on the table. You have to be there by 4:40, Henry answered and he flew out the door to catch his ride to school. Let's go, The Husband raised his voice at Oliver and they left, too. I picked up the spread-out newspaper and placed it on the chair like I do every morning (always, always irritated by it), and then I called out to Sophie who I heard humming in her room I'm coming, Sophie. And as I walked down the hallway I wondered whether she heard all the comings and goings in the same way we hear them and whether she felt isolated from them or part of them and I wondered if the feeling I had was guilt that she wasn't really a part of them and guilt that I didn't work hard enough for her to be a part of them and then I wondered whether I would ever let go of the guilt, the guilt that comes, relentlessly, even after sixteen years of damn hard work and travail and despair and pulling up your bootstraps and dark humor and enlightenment and joy and gratitude. I wondered if guilt came naturally, anyway, when you are a mother and how I would never know that naturally, and I had all these thoughts, lickety-split, as I walked into Sophie's room and reached my arms out to her, sitting on the floor, humming, and pulled her up and brought her to the kitchen to eat breakfast.