The kid and I are leaving for vacation Saturday morning. I have spent the last ten days waking in the middle of the night with some vague anxiety about car tires, and swim trunks, and traffic. About a country on fire, and children in cages. About the way that stories have made me stand in the middle of the world, and feel things, while simultaneously wearing the armor of metaphor.

I am predisposed to love dogs and children. To see them with the same sense of overwhelming joy. A child waving to me from her stroller will lift my spirit for days. Those dogs that seem not to notice you, but then coyly lick you as they pass are my definition of heaven.

I want my child to have safe trouble. Good trouble. Heartbreak and adventure and minor accidents. I want him to notice suffering and do whatever he can to help. I want him to be kind.

When he was an infant, I would stand in the hallway and stare at his bedroom door, and worry for him. I’d worry and worry and worry. Illness, death, injury, terrible relationships, accidents, the casual cruelty of thoughtless people. Bears. I’d worry about bears. Cars. Airplanes falling out of the sky. Monsters. Invaders. And then I’d hear him laughing, and go into his room, pick up a smiling, hungry little guy, and stop worrying. I’d be so filled with love that my mind would empty of everything else. My perfect boy. My love.

Children in cages.

Sometimes I am pure rage. Incandescent. That beautiful, terrible word. I am incandescent.

I am every mother. All of them. I have all of their hopes and ambitions. I want their wants. A better life with fewer worries. Good, safe trouble for my child. A fucking vacation. I want to worry whether I’ve packed enough socks.

I don’t want to worry if the jackboots will decide gay people shouldn’t be allowed to have children. Who will be wrong, and subhuman, next?

That’s the thing about hate. It’s always hungry.

What is this about, Jill? What are you fucking saying?

I’m saying that metaphor will never be armor enough.

I just go on feeling and worrying. Worrying and feeling. About bears. About cougar. About cruelty. About car tires. About children alone in the world. About their parents searching searching searching.

I have these plans to outlast the jackboots. Plans to go on filling up with love. Plans to see these children and love them. Plans to see these parents and love them. Plans to go on being incandescent with love. Like a fucking meteor. Like a goddamned forest fire. Like a motherfucking mother.

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