“Do more of what makes you happy.” Read the rainbow letters on my mug. The mug I bought while shopping with Elias on a rainy night last week when my “big” kids were at swim practice. I had whisked Elias from his own practice to get a grocery shop in and I couldn’t help but smile at this love of a boy trailing beside me with his chlorinated hair uncombed and his permanently chapped lips distracting me from his chatter. I kept licking my own lips as if to soothe his as I watched his mouth — circled with a red-purpled hickey of dryness — moving up and down. I was itching with discomfort just looking at those lips. He on the other hand wasn’t bothered by them at all. How is that possible?
We were careening around the corner of the narrow aisled green grocers and there it was, jumping out at me. “Buy me! Buy me!” Sang the happy words on the mug, but I wasn’t searching for more bumper sticker slogans, I was on a hunt for Shea Butter. My friend suggested it as a lip remedy and
we were I was desperate. I had taken to rubbing my own smooth-unchapped-lips with the corner of my sleeve. Scratching at them. “Move out of the way mug.” I muttered impatiently. Picking it up in my hand to get to what was underneath it.
The mug sat on a table, sandwiched between holiday tchotchkes and a zillion different types of seasonal lip balms. It lingered just long enough on my fingertips and I was distracted by its message. I figured it was a sign and I tossed the thing into the cart and continued my fervent search. Finally, crouching down in a squat, unzipping my coat to cool off, I settled on the only Shea Butter I could find — close to the ground on the bottom corner of the lowest shelf. I wiped the dust off its cover and ignored the price tag.
It was, in fact, a tub of Shea Butter. Bigger than the mug. With the salve in my palm I could slow down for a second and get a grip. Itchy lips would be remedied! Hallelujah. Elias looked down at me with wise and knowing eyes, the way that kids see their parents in their truest forms, smiled at me with his crackling lips (God help me!) and said, “Um, Mom?! Can’t we just get one of the Christmas lip balms on the table? That’s kind of big, you know!”
“Oh no. We need this one. Those are minty. They won’t work.” I patted the bucket on its dingy top lovingly. The way I often look at a cup of coffee or chocolate … or stand in the candy aisles of the Target store mesmerized. Transfixed by the beauty of all things chocolate packaged in glorious brightly colored bags and wrapping. I was like that. Past the point of return. And Elias knows this about me perhaps better than I know it about myself. “Come on, Mom.” He nudged. Probably while rolling his eyes. “We have to go get Zoe and Brayden. Let’s go!” He tugged on my shoulder, waking me up from my Shea Butter reverie and distinctly said, “That stuff looks gross.”
I heard him. I did. But I didn’t really hear him. Truthfully I was distracted by fantasies of him waking up in the morning without cracked parched-ness radiating from him and I thought about how much better I’d feel when his lips were no longer chapped. I’m sure I told myself that I could convince him to smear the spackle onto his lips. I thought for certain that I could discreetly plaster it on him. Believing he’d feel the cooling relief and sing my praises while doing a little jig.
I heaved the barrel of Shea Butter into the cart. He asked again for the red and green candy cane lip lube. I may have tossed that into the cart too; days later, I’m not even sure. Elias walked ahead of me as I held the mug in my hand for a moment — debating whether I wanted it or not. Leading the way to the checkout he said without turning back, “You should buy the mug though, Mom. It’s totally you.” How did he know I was wondering about it?
Elias was right. The Shea Butter is gross. Really gross. Brayden jumped and ran away from me when I wrenched the cover off. Yelling, “Holy cow that stuff reeks!” To which I earnestly denied this truth and smeared the putrid stuff all over my lips: “See! It’s great! It works! My lips feel so much better!” “Um. Your lips aren’t chapped.” All three of my kids said matter-of-factly to me. True. “You can even use it on your hands!” I declared with desperate enthusiasm while chasing them around the kitchen. Trying to get one of them to offer up a hand for me to coat. “NO WAY!” They laughed while running away from me. I laughed too, a little defeated … but I’m not giving up. Not yet.
Someone has since put the Shea Butter into the cabinet mistaking it for a nut butter. Or maybe they’re just messing with me. I continue to take it out and leave it on the counter hoping Elias will relent when he can’t stand his lips anymore. I hold on to my dreams of soft lips and the wish that my son will one day talk without his lips taut and parched. Without the incessant licking. But so far he isn’t budging and his lips don’t bother him. Which of course makes me insane! I even bought cute little containers to fill up. Hoping if I made it look better he’d use it. I suggested we add some essential oils to it — prodding Zoe to concoct some delicious masking aroma — but all three of my children pretty much just patted me on the head lovingly and looked at each other knowingly. They’ve got my number.
“Do More Of What Makes You Happy” chides my mug. That damn mug. I mean, really? Do you really want me to do more of what makes me happy? Sometimes what makes us happy might actually bite us in the ass … don’t you think?
I made tea the other night in that mug of mine. (I secretly hate tea.) The slogan on my tea bag read: “Be Yourself” which left me reading the two blurbs together over and over again: Do more of what makes you happy. Be yourself. Do more of what makes you happy. Be yourself …
Well okay then.
I am a chapped-lipped-hating momma who loses all sense of time while lingering longingly in the Target candy aisles. I am a woman who loves chocolate and coffee
a little way too much. And today, it makes me happier to write lightly about chapped lips and mugs than to write deeply about my worry about Rob’s health and the seven hour infusion he had last week. Or the second infusion he has coming up in two weeks. And the fact that he still has no relief from his chronic arthritic pain.
I’m not quite sure if doing more of that — eating chocolate and drinking coffee — will make me happy. But both soothe my soul more than the blasted Shea Butter has soothed Elias’ lips. And they comfort my aching troubled heart. For now, I’ll take that.
Categories: Tri-Umphant Living