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Day By Day: Confessions of a mother made crazy

Somewhere in Birkmose Park there's an albino squirrel who knows too much.

I think some of you may be able to relate. I had a Thursday about a week ago that just went from bad to worse. I was feeling overwrought, underappreciated and generally taken for granted. And it was on all fronts -- family, work, all of it.

It began with my husband encroaching on my day off. I'm OK with spending time with him but my Thursdays are kind of coveted. It's the day I usually clean, catch up on personal paperwork, watch a few soaps or do something with friends. And his being there really didn't stop any of that from happening. It's just that he was THERE. It is the day I get to decide if I want to talk to anybody or just belt out show tunes at the top of my lungs all morning.

I like to make lists on Thursdays, most of which get lost in the mess of the rest of the week, but there is always the chance I might get a few of the things on them done. I call people I don't get to talk to very often. But I can't really have a good session with my friend JoAnn with Kevin in the next room. Most of the crabbing that goes on is about him. And I talk to myself -- a lot. Sometimes it's about getting something off my chest, sometimes it's a way to get a story started for the paper, sometimes it just helps me remember from one room to the next what I'm headed there for. Having him around, constantly asking me what I said and to talk louder, takes all the joy out of the one conversation I can always count on winning.

But that particular day it wasn't just Kevin. I was supposed to pick up my generally sweet daughter at work and drive her to a doctor's appointment. That was a good thing -- it got me out of striking distance of Kevin and got me some time with her. I should have stayed home. Kevin would have healed eventually.

The ride over wasn't bad despite the look on her face as she got into the car. Was anything wrong? "No," came the reply which doesn't begin to cover everything that was, indeed, wrong. But I settled. I managed to get in a few suggestions to talk with the doctor about and I dropped her off in a semi-civil state.

I enjoyed the next half hour or so cruising through Herberger's and patting myself on the back for not having charged anything new to my account for almost four months. So I headed back to the doctor in a good mood and was in the parking lot when I got her cell phone summons.

She was talking to someone on the phone when she got in the car. She eventually got off and I asked about the appointment. My first mistake. In my defense, I don't think either my questions or comments were too over the top for someone who still pays all the bills and is, on her day off, serving as chauffeur, even if it is to a "20-year-old woman." My sister, who is all knowing, says the so-called "terrible 2s" are nothing when compared to the "terrible 20s," when they not only talk but drive and ask for money.

She disagreed, and who needs air conditioning when you are riding with an angry, post-adolescent daughter. I immediately saw the error of my ways and attempted to amend the situation with highly positive remarks and what can only be called sucking up. It didn't work.

But when her phone rang again, I was lucky enough to witness that not uncommon morphing from demon child while talking to me into pleasant, happy and sweet young lady. I listened, intrigued by the little quick change artist I had raised, until we hit the I-94 bridge and then I was mad.

I spent the rest of the way home trying to figure out a dramatic enough move that would aptly convey just how mad I was. Yes, that's right. Mom is mad and she doesn't have to take it anymore.

I considered dropping her at Second and Walnut and telling her to call someone who cared, which no longer included me. I decided against that since, with my luck, she'd walk home, maybe get picked up and sold into white slavery and I'd be the blubbering mother on "Dateline" saying I didn't mean it.

Instead, I silently dropped her off and made my very best attempt at screeching the tires as I pulled away. Alas, the driveway is too long and her earphones were in, reducing any kind of an impact.

The next issue was where to go. I thought about walking off the mad back to Willow River Falls but that was just too much exercise, and isn't exercise supposed to improve your outlook? I wanted none of that.

I headed to Prospect Park but found that the best bench in the park -- for yelling without getting carted away for evaluation -- was already occupied.

I decided on Birkmose, which brings me to that squirrel. I was just sitting there, listing and lamenting all my troubles, when there it was, white as snow. It stopped just a few feet away and kept its eyes on me for most of my rant, chewing on something that must have tasted good.

I'm not familiar with any omens or legends about albino squirrels but I know the white buffalo is sacred to Native Americans and since I was in the park with the native burial mounds, I thought maybe this was some sort of message -- like "listen middle-aged white woman with a pretty nice life, quit your belly-aching."

It seemed clear to me suddenly that my issues really didn't rate much more than a white rodent. I still complained to the squirrel but he didn't stick around long. My best guess is that he is looking for a raccoon with rabies who might like to put this woman he knows out of her misery.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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