The car was almost out of gas. I told my son we had to leave ten minutes earlier for school because I had just enough in the tank to get him there, but not me, back. We'd coast, I joked.
"Again? Why do you wait until the last minute? I don't get it, mom. Dad's right, you wait until you're on empty."
It's true, and his dad is right. I do wait until the last minute. The reason is so many reasons. Things they don't need to know and that my husband couldn't reference. I let the gas gauge read below the red 'E' and I keep driving through the dingding and the small flashing gas pump on the dashboard meant as a friendly reminder. I let it go for the same reason that I eat the ends of the bread loaf as toast when we could buy a loaf a day.
My husband and kids wonder why, about this and me and so many things. To them, I'm sure I seem ill prepared for all of life.
"It's OK, no big deal," I tell my son. "You know there's a gas station half way there. We'll leave early, you'll get to school at the same time you always do."
"It's just that I don't get how you are always out of gas, mom. I don't."
I want to tell him I'm sorry. To tell everyone in this house, I'm sorry. There's so much to the why, it was simpler when they just went along... but they're growing up after years with me and they don't go with the flow anymore. In the same way that I hear my husband's not so silent sigh when he needs my roomier car and I shout out to caution that it's on empty. I see how 20 years of me is a long time to see things go unchanged.
They think they want to hear the why -- they don't know that they'd just be stories of me growing up, one of six children, with one grandmother, one mother. A household living on the sole income of this one woman, who was new to this country and on her own. What kind of bed time story is that? A tale of me watching my mother in moments when she thought no one was there to see her at the dining room table, ripping up her bills in tight fisted anger. With just the sound of the tearing paper, I heard what she was saying.
Make it last. All of it, the bread, the milk, the winter coat with the sleeves that stop right above your wrists so that's the part where you feel the prickly stab of icy rain the most. Wear it one more year. Make it last.
Make the gas last a full week. Wait until you can't anymore to get to the gas station. Make it one full week.
It's not for my children to know. Who likes to hear these stories, and more than anything, who likes to tell them.
My son and I pull into the gas station. It's early morning and the pumps are each available, something that always makes me feel like they're generously offering themselves. I choose the island to the left and I hear my son mumble about having to fill up before school again. I smile at the good life my children have. One where there can be no other reason for a mother who runs out of gas, than someone who is just neglectful in filling the tank.
*I'll be posting every day in November as part of National Blog Posting Month, NaBloPoMo. Join in, sign in, for an entire month dedicated to writing. There are stories waiting to finally breathe... See BlogHer for all the information you need to get started.
If you've written a NaBloPoMo post, feel free to share it in the comments.