We woke up at 7:30, still tired. Babies loose, running, grabbing phone, BEEP BEEP BEEP, the sound of the receiver, making milk, babies start to cry, I just can’t make it fast enough. Alan not home, stayed in south bay, went for drinks didn’t want to drive. I’m so glad. I hadn’t heard from him before I went to bed, woke up at 2:00 A.M., his truck isn’t here. Start to worry, accident? Hospital? Then I see the text. Jack whining now, play area not big enough for him, he wants to be loose to run around the whole house. I go down and explain to him, “When you’re big enough to be free then I’ll let you roam the whole house, you’re too little now Jack.” I give him a hug and they are playing nice again. Jacks been really whiny the past two days, he’s drooling, I bet it’s those molars or canines, the doc said those were a killer. I start thinking about my brother Danny. I think about looking for crawdads and frogs in the creek. Playing war in the field, but most of all our weekends with dad. We woke up on the boat, it was early, we have to work today, scraping barnacles. (The boat always needs work, I have doubts it will ever be in the water again) First we go for a walk. We climb down the ladder onto asphalt. I can smell the turpentine, stain and porta potties. I can’t remember my dad ever being with us, maybe he had a graveyard shift and left us alone, maybe he was taking one of his famous shits that seemed to last an eternity. Danny and I would sit for hours it seemed wondering what he was doing in the bathroom for so long. Walk through the boat yard, the edge of the marina, climb down the rocks onto the edge of the bay. Walking and looking for crabs. They would scurry up the rock, see us and hide. We search the ground for interesting things the tides brought in. My face feels salty, my hair damp, stringy, I don’t know how far we walked. The marina had hot chocolate machines we would hit up after our walk. One day we were with my dad, maybe waiting for a bus. Danny and I were sitting on a large cardboard box. Danny fell off, I had a comb in my mouth, dad slapped me across the face because he thought I pushed Danny off the box. I had a scar on my right cheek for years. It’s faded now. Crying and mad I sulk, I tell my dad I would never push Danny off the box. He doesn’t believe me. Danny is quiet, probably traumatized. My Dad drops us off at home, our Mom acts like we’re lucky to be back safe every time.  The crows are walking on the roof across the street. Alan’s home now on the couch, probably playing a game on the iPad. The babies are taking their nap. My coffee has gone cold and bitter. I wonder if I should make a fresh pot, Alan brought me home a new jar of honey. It’s quiet again, but the house is a mess, my body is so tired, and Alan has a hangover, Jacks teething. We need to find a way to feel better. All of us, except Fiona. She’s doing great. (To do’s: Clean kitchen, Walk Billy, Take a shower)  We had each other, Danny and I. Our play dough sessions were out of this world. Making boats, cloths pin people, playing frogger and gin rummy. In the uncomfortable situations we would find ourselves we could at least count on each other. “Who’s getting a spanking first?” My mom said. Danny and I sitting in the back seat of the green dodge dart. I went. We didn’t know why we were getting spankings, I guess we were bad at a restaurant or store. Danny recently told me how scared he was when I put him on my pony Chu Chu and led him around. I didn’t know. I was always a dare devil and pretty tough. Even now I feel tougher than most and sometimes stick my foot in my mouth when I advise friends to toughen up.  I guess that’s what an older sister does and is. Jack and Fiona are great buds too. Everyone asks me are they best friends. “Yes” I reply. I wondered yesterday when I took Fiona out for a girls lunch if she wished Jack was with us. When I got home Ramona said Jack had been very unhappy the whole time we were gone. I didn’t ever want to be apart from Danny. I went astray during my teenage years. A few years after our mom died Danny told me he was moving to New York. I cried for days. I was so upset, maybe unnaturally so. I couldn’t imagine my life without my brother. He is my only family, besides Alan, Jack, and Fiona.

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Thoughts on Motherhood Through the Eyes of an Artist