M took the kids on a quick overnight camping trip this weekend. I declined to go because I recently developed some sort of crippling problem with my sacroiliac joint. I cannot walk without hobbling, turn over in bed without gasping or sit for very long periods of time unless it is on an exercise ball. I got a referral to physical therapy, which is very helpful, but the only cure is to birth this baby and that is potentially a month away, or further. (I hereby offer my apologies to any miserable pregnant woman I ever arrogantly suggested should "try a little yoga for that pain." I had no idea, I'm sorry.) But all things considered, it's certainly doesn't fall into the calamitous category and maybe it's even a good thing to be forced to rest a bit more in your third trimester.

So, while M was chasing after the kids in the pouring down rain, I was at home, moving from couch to exercise ball to kitchen. I baked this cake, chopped up all that remained of last week's CSA and made a soup, and roasted and froze 6 quarts of pumpkin. I slept for about 10 hours straight. I watched a lot of "Call the Midwife" and read the entire Sunday newspaper in one go. They had a good time and slept in the car instead of pitching a tent. The pictures M took show smiling children holding hands in front of a backdrop of peak leaf season. I think it was also really good for M to get some time on his own with the kids, which hasn't really happened much lately.

Last Friday a cyclist was hit and killed on her way home from work. The initial headline of the story that appeared on the local news referred to something about "delayed commute times." I think that was before they knew she was dead, but still what a horribly crass way to gloss over something really crappy. I made the mistake of scrolling through the comments. Never read the comments on a story about a traffic accident that involves a bicycle. M usually bikes to work, so it hits close to home. He's very safe and law-abiding. Always wears a helmet and lights up his bike like the sun. He had a close call with a bread truck last spring (not his fault) and has lots of stories about hostile drivers shouting at him (also not usually his fault). I remember last year, when we came back into town after pedaling to Cumberland, getting tsk'd tsk'd by a crossing guard for having my kids in a trailer behind me. In a bike lane on a designated bike route!

Even walking Laurel a short distance to school, I can feel the hostility and indifference of people inside their cars. Looking right past me as they roll through the stop sign and crosswalk, pretending not to see a heavily pregnant woman holding hands with a toddler and a five year old. Sometimes I am the driver, but I have to put a post it note on my dash board that says "25" - a reference to the most common speed limit in my city, but really a reminder to drive like I did when I was first learning. Two hands on the wheel, keep a gap between you and the next vehicle, constantly scan ahead and the mirrors. Everyone is in a hurry and I know I was that way not too long ago, glancing down at my phone to check emails at stop lights, and hitting the gas to pass the 71C. I never hit a cyclist or a pedestrian, or even another car, but I can't say I haven't had close calls.

Today when we came back together, the four-almost-five of us ate soup and chocolate cake. Everyone was tired and a little cranky. We muddled our way through the rest of Sunday. The house is still a mess but at least the trash got put out.

And this, all of this, is what parenting is turning out to be. Yes, we are still mired a bit in potty training and bedtimes and the things I read in books when Laurel was a baby. But it's mostly figuring out how to all live together without going nuts. Figuring out ways to balance everyone's needs, not just the children. Giving them more responsibility to take care of themselves and our house and our world. Explaining horrible things that happen. Showing them how to give help and to receive it. Calculating risk for all of us. There are no books for this part, just feeling it out with each other. We mess it up sometimes. Then we fix it.

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