You know how sometimes you mean to say one thing but when it comes out of your mouth you accidentally say a word that only sounds like the word you meant to say? They're called spoonerisms and a former uncle of mine was famous in our family for them. He knocked off some great ones in the years I knew him... like the day he went into a pet store and told the clerk that he needed to purchase "25 pounds of bird shit." Then there was the time while he was the bishop of his congregation and while conducting the meeting on Sunday he announced the next speaker by saying, "It's always a pressure to have the missionaries speak to us." (Those may not be the best examples of this particular linguistic phenomenon, but they are pretty funny.)

Every once in a while, I can come up with some too... like the day we were sitting at breakfast and I looked over at my loving, sweet companion of a husband. What I
meant to say was, "Please pass the salt, dear," but I had a slight slip of the tongue and what I actually said was, "YOU STUPID S.O.B., YOU'RE RUINING MY LIFE."

OK, maybe I made that last part up to amuse my husband, but the first paragraph is totally true. At least I think it is.

We are in the process of putting another engine in one of our cars (and a transmission, and an on-board computer, and... and...) and that debacle has kept our second car out of commission for more than three weeks. (That's a whole different post.) So we've been getting by on one car, a very patient friend who thinks he owes us (and we're not setting him straight) and occasionally renting a car. Yesterday, The KingofHearts rented a car because well, he didn't feel like walking the forty-five miles home from work (wussy!). Then when I went out to rehearsal last night, I drove it because nothing irks me more than to rent a car and then have it sit in the parking lot all the time. I want my money's worth, dammit!

It was a cute, red sporty model with a nice, quiet ride and satellite radio and and one of the other violinists who saw me get out of the car at the rehearsal hall squealed and said, "Oh, what a cute car you have!" And then I had to tell her that no, I do not have a cute, red, sporty car, I have a crappy, tiny, "high gas mileage" car that doesn't really get high gas mileage, has had two engines, two transmissions and two computers and still doesn't shift into shift into fourth gear.

After rehearsal, which was in BFE from where my house is, I stopped by the closest grocery store because we needed milk and I decided that since I was unfettered with children for once, I would do an actual shopping trip. It was 11:00 pm and I was the only one in the store other than two employees and I strolled the aisles, looking at products, reading labels, singing along to the Muzak and just generally enjoying the fact that I didn't once have to keep anyone from doing a swan dive from the shopping cart or yell at anyone to put that back and stop screaming. Then I walked out into the gorgeous, cool evening, noticed the recent rain glistening on everything, loaded the groceries in my cute, red car, and then drove around with all the windows down and the satellite radio blaring to some 80s rock station. Just because I could.

It reminded me of when I had just moved to Washington. If it rained at night, I'd get in my car and just drive around because I was awake and there was no one to tell me not to. I did whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to and it was sweet, delicious freedom. And for a brief moment last night, just a second mind you, I considered driving right past my exit on the Beltway and never looking back because I do not know what that freedom feels like anymore.

I'm not saying my life was perfect when I was single. It was lonely, hard and demoralizing at times, but I do miss that freedom. The ability to pick up at 10:00 at night and decide, hey, I've never seen North Carolina... I think I'll go there. How about now? I think this hit me so hard because I've spent the last two weeks and the better part of $1000 planning and making plane reservations so that I can bring my family on a work trip with me because The Caterpillar is still nursing and I need someone to watch her while I'm working, but I can't be away from her or my boobs will explode. But if I simply bring a babysitter type with me, then who will get The Dormouse off to school in the mornings, because The KoH has to leave for work even before the before- and after-care office opens in the morning so he'll have to take a week off work and then he might as well just come with me and watch the baby too and now I have to find the baby's birth certificate because they won't let her be a lap child unless I can prove she's under two and what kind of identification will I use for my older child at the security gate and some airlines now count car seats as one of your checked bags so does that mean I have to ship my clothes to the conference in a box and did I mention we still don't have a second working car but we've already spent $3000 on a new engine. transmission and computer so it's like a brand new car, but it just doesn't run???

So I took the long way home last night.

I'm not saying I'm sorry for what I've gotten myself into. I love this weird little family and all the people in it. I just sometimes look back a little wistfully at that freedom and miss it... just a bit. It's not like I don't get to do stuff I enjoy now, but there's always an air of rush and exigency surrounding every event - hurry up and get this fun thing over with... don't dare stop to enjoy it because you've got to get back! I'm just saying it'd be nice to go to the Stephen Colbert show and not have to explain to the security guard why I have a breast pump in my bag and that no, the chilled bag of breast milk is not a gift for Stephen (but if he really wants some, I guess I'd be willing to share).

But then I think of my daughters' eyes in the morning. I pick up the baby and pat her back and she pats mine. It's out little dance we do every morning these days. She waves at the dishwasher and I say "Hi dishwasher," she waves at the television and I say, "Hi, TV," then an actual human being walks into the room and I say, "Hi Daddy." She stares blankly. The Big One will stumble up from downstairs in a sleepy stupor with her hair arranged in some kind of white girl afro. She'll take forty minutes to down half of an egg and get one shoe on and I'll have to dress her the rest of the way or she'll miss the bus. I'll pick up all the dirty dishes The Man left on the counter last night while I was away even though he could just have easily put in the empty dishwasher below the counter and it off himself and I'll kiss him goodbye before he heads off to work in that cute little rented red car, and what I realize is this:

There's no place I'd rather be.

(But I would like my car to run now.)