Meet Edith. She was 12 days old when we arrived in Providence on Saturday, ostensibly “to help.”
Here’s a list of ways we didn’t help Willa and Matt and Tucker with Edith:
- Stayed at their place
- Slept in the only air conditioned room in the house
- Convinced Matt to go out on a run with me Saturday morning, leaving Willa and Maggie in charge of four kids
- Suggested blueberry picking on the hottest day of the summer
- Went blueberry picking on the hottest day of the summer
- Picked 14 pounds of blueberries on the hottest day of the summer
- Heatstruck, dozed off on the couches at the Childrens’ Museum, leaving Charlotte in their custody
- Tried really hard to leave a heavy, bulky car seat with them, even though they’re moving next week
- Didn’t pack anything to help them with their move next week
- Got sick, which at least led to something novel: the younger sibling prescribing medication for the older sibling
What can I say. We tried to help, we had every intention of helping. But who are we kidding, we can barely help ourselves. Fortunately, I don’t think Matt or Willa were keeping track of this kind of stuff, or, if they were, their generosity, accommodating spirit, and discretion kept them from pointing it out.
After our work was done in Providence, we hopped back in our underpowered rental toward Brooklyn. It quickly became apparent that we were the ones in need of help. The week was unrelenting: unusually high demands at work, unusually poor sleep from Wilder. Marathon training ramped up. Maggie remained sick. Charlotte did her part by kissing Wilder on the mouth every time he fell asleep, waking him up repeatedly. Actual pieces of Maggie began to break off and shatter on the floor around midday Wednesday.
It’s a hard thing to describe, feeling fragile while also careening around faster than ever. There’s no margin for error. If even one thing goes awry, the whole production groans and lists like a rented Nissan Versa. If many things go south, as they did this week, all one has are his mantras, the last resort of the stressed. This too shall pass. This too shall pass.