“Let’s get pictures in the bluebonnets,” I say. It’s that time of year. It’s a Texas thing. Everyone does it. From young to old. You can’t fiddle around too long, because they only last about two weeks.
“You wear your blue sweater …” I say.
“I’ll wear my new sundress,” one says.
“I’ll wear …” I enter my closet, excitement flooding my heart.
But then my heart sinks. Because year after year, I know who is coming along.
Our same ol’ spot isn’t there anymore. We head to another patch. It’s not as pretty. Hilly. Rocky. A house is being built close by. Getting decent pictures is going to take some brainstorming. Creativity. But who has time for that? “Shelli, you should have pre-planned.” The words whisper over my ear.
I pull the car onto the old county road and ease over to the side. One girl gets out, fabric swaying to the breeze, another exits, I place my pink boot onto the asphalt road, and then Attitude slides out. Every single time, Attitude comes with us. We didn’t even invite her.
“The ground is wet,” one says.
“It doesn’t matter. It’s once a year … Come on.” It’s possible that I say that. “I’ll go first.” I grab a raincoat, hand over the camera, and evaluate the situation. After placing the coat on the ground, I try to sit where my bottom won’t get wet. My new pants, you see.
“How do you want this picture, Mom?” asks the camera girl. A truck needs to drive by us. Camera girl scoots to the side of the road, allowing the vehicle to pass on that narrow strip. Another car. Scoot to the side. Another truck. Scoot. What? Grand Central Station? Isn’t this the country?
I can’t even imagine the look on my face.
Attitude smirks, rubbing her hands together.
“Be creative,” I say. Attitude walks up beside me and leans over my shoulder, wanting in the picture. I can’t even begin to push her away. And actually, I suddenly kind of like her. Her dress is pretty and so is her hat. Look at those sparkly sandals.
“I don’t know what you want, Mom.” Another truck passes, another truck, and another truck. My girl scoots over. Scoot.
“Just do it. Hurry. Before another truck comes.” Fighting the persistent breeze, I attempt to put my hair back into place. Another truck. Another truck. Scoot. “Switch places. I’m done.” I take the camera. Another truck. Another truck. Pink boot scoot. Boot scoot.
Construction is clearly taking place down the road, while I’m deconstructing.
“It’s wet.” Another truck. “There’s a bee.” She’s terrified of bees, and I’m the bee-charmer.
Another truck. Scoot.
I look at my two girls. After 20 years, I still can’t believe they are mine. The mine-of-the-heart kind. I find myself climbing into my grandmother’s lap, in my mind, and she says, “No matter how big you get, you’ll always be my baby.” My babies. No matter how big they get. I love these babies. And I loved my grandmother. She wasn’t perfect, but I loved her so. What made it work? What makes us work?
Attitude taps me on the shoulder and points a finger, letting me know one girl is bothered by another bee. And then look … there’s the pesky breeze.
In the car, Attitude locks her passenger seat door and turns up the heat.
I scan through the photos on my camera. “I look aggravated in that one. Why didn’t you tell me? We’re supposed to help each other out.”
“We didn’t get one good picture.” I stomp my proverbial foot. Can you even have a proverbial foot? “Why does it always have to be like this? It’s once a year. Can’t we just manage once a year? One day you’ll be so glad to have these pictures.” Or will they? What will they remember? Attitude?
“You’re a bad mother,” Attitude whispers, and she locks everyone’s car doors and laughs. And goodness, it’s hot. Where is the air conditioning?
I load the pictures on my computer, once we return home, and browse through.
Attitude peers over my shoulder, shaking her head.
Well, I don’t know. I think I disagree. That one turned out okay. And look, that one did, too. I open the door and invite Attitude to leave.
One baby is sitting there. The other sits there.
A knock comes to the front door. I hurry to slip out of sight, not wanting him to know anyone is home. Because I know better than to let Pride into the house.
“Look, baby girl.” My arm slips around one. “We got a good one.” I smile. She smiles. We all smile. “I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry, too.”
They climb onto my lap, and I rock. “No matter how big you get, you’ll always be my babies.” And right there, I know.
I know what makes us work.
What do you do when Attitude slips into the room?