Sometimes you've just got to lie on the floor.
Let me explain.
The high-pitched scream and "Mami, I cut myself!'' was followed by the child busting into the bathroom I was cleaning. She had a bloody, dripping hand. She cut it on the nightlight bulb. She was trying to plug it in, holding it by the bulb. It shattered and sliced her ring finger.
We rinsed it, poured hydrogen peroxide, and wrapped a Band-Aid around it. We hugged. I kissed her, said "Sana, sana, culito de rana,'' a funny Spanish rhyme about a little frog's butt and how the hurt will heal today, or tomorrow. It's tradition. She sort of laughed. She stopped crying. I said a prayer of gratitude that it wasn't worse. Then, she threw herself on the floor at the top of the stairs.
"I need to rest,'' she said.
"Do you want to go rest on your bed?"
"Do you want a pillow?"
"No, I just want to lay here,'' she said, quietly.
I snuggled down beside her.
And there we stayed for a few quiet minutes. She held her hand. I held her.
I got up to get the vacuum and when I was done cleaning up the shards, I headed back down the stairs.
"Mami, please stay here with me,'' she said, still on the floor.
The mental To Do list popped into view: Work phone calls, writing deadline, swishing of toilets, unfolded laundry. I pushed the list away and climbed up. Down to the floor with Maria again I went. Within minutes we were making shadow figures on the wall. Laughing.
I remember my own childhood and teen-age days of drama. I remember lying on the floor with my feet up on the bed. It felt good. I even remember getting under the bed. Just thinking. Sometimes crying. Sometimes writing bad poetry. Sometimes nodding off. I am sure that I spent hours on the shag. Until Friday, I hadn't thought of any of it in decades.
I now see it has been a long time since I allowed myself, in the middle of a crisis or busy day, to just be – though I often have described hectic days as wanting simply to "throw myself onto the floor and cry.''
I have to admit to myself that, really, I should just go ahead and do it next time the spirit directs me. Feel that feeling, as Oprah and her Friends advise. Given the quiet and simple joy Maria and I shared Friday on that landing, going ahead and having a moment would serve me well, allow me to move on more quickly than I usually do. Maria hasn't complained about her finger since she got up from the floor. She's moved on. She's healing.
In truth, the surging forward, the reluctance to have a meltdown because I am a grown-up and have things to do, isn't really doing anybody any good. Especially those who live with me when my good humor is replaced by snappish exhaustion.
I see the exhaustion in my friends too. Most of them are moms who blast through the day at 100 mph. Where are we going? What are we avoiding?
Yesterday morning, Maria noticed the compass on my rear-view mirror.
"It can't light up on all four sides because you can't go in all directions at one time,'' she said.
Oh goodness, how right you are, child of mine. How much you teach me.
I'm going to try this: The next time I need to "have a moment" there's only one direction I will travel. South. To the floor._____