*Cough* Ballabusta *Cough*. Day 86 of 100 Days of Writing.

I’m not sure what the deal is with my lungs. I had what I thought was a bad cold for about a week. It cleared up for two days, then about 4 days ago, I rebounded. I cannot sleep for coughing. I’m exhausted. I’m achy in the chest. I’m guessing bronchitis, and I’m sticking with that because I really despise going to the doctor, not because they always find something wrong, because they do, but because they always weigh me. If I go in there with this cough, they’re going to weigh me. If I go in with a sprained finger, they’re going to weigh me.

I probably should mention the coughing seems to be causing me some form of delirium. I choose to enjoy this.

So of course it was a really good decision to go to my kid’s nursery school yesterday and participate in the semi-annual toy and room disinfecting hootenany. I’m zonked. I’m not contagious, because I’ve breathed on my children for a month now and it just makes them stronger. They are running around and testing the tensile strength of my lap furniture more than ever.

I’ve been wanting to play and frolic (which is what I chose to use to describe their water fights and foot fights and weird dancing contests/fights) with the kids as we’re ending summer, but those spurts are short lived. We’re taking a one-day vacation tomorrow to Michigan. I feel like I’m losing their childhood when I can’t play, though this 65 degree weather isn’t helping us feel summery. There are no lightening bugs to catch, and we all hover around the grill for warmth more than anything else.

Ultimately, I’m nesting well before it’s appropriate. I made a glorious, light and fluffy cheesecake yesterday (phlegm-free!) and am working on knitting up a cowl in a gorgeous fuschia.  It’s one of those projects I put down too regularly, but I am always comforted by the meditative aspects of cooking and knitting.

Before I got married, my fellow teachers threw me a mini-shower one Friday morning in the lounge. One of my pals said, “You’re a real ballabusta!”  Despite growing up in New Jersey among many Italian-Americans, I had never heard this word. I loved it! Ball buster, right? That’s what that word is? I mean, not the image of a loving wife generally applauded, but I liked being thought of as tough.

Well, not tough so much as stupid, because despite growing up Jewish in New Jersey, I never heard anyone utter the Yiddish word, ballabusta, meaning good homemaker.  I like to cook, I like to knit (recent discovery!), but my home is quite a disaster area, and most people are unaware that our shag carpet is actually just shed dog fuzz that accumulates at a blizzard pace. To be honest, thinking of myself as a “homemaker” sounds flabby and bereft of meaning. I mean, besides raising three functional human beings. I always prefer feeling strong and potentially ass-kicking. Homemaker makes me feel like one of the extras on Little House on the Prairie. Bringing in the sheeves, tending to folks, doing good deeds, and generally boring. Ball-busting is Laura Ingalls. Homemaking is Mary Ingalls.

My edges have softened, since, and I’m learning to reconcile the two.  I can be a bit edgy and a bit soft. If Donny and Marie could do it, I can, too.  And I have purple socks, to boot. (Bonus if you get that reference.)

So those moments I stop and sit and cough, I’ll fancy myself a ball-busting, cowl-knitting, dessert-baking, book-devouring, joke-flubbing, possibly oxygen-deprived mamacita who would gladly be swimming with her kids if her lungs and Chicago’s climate would let her.photo 1 photo 4


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