The day passes quickly but drags at the same time. My husband is gone for twelve hours each weekday, and it’s often just me and the little one. We play with play do, we have peanut butter sandwiches and orange slices for lunch. We go to the park on Monday, swimming lessons on Thursday, Storytime on Tuesday. On the way home we stop at the store and get chicken and sweet potatoes for dinner and rush to get her home in time for her nap. During her nap, I write as many words as I possibly can, I empty and reload the dishwasher, I start laundry, I write some more, and I eat some chocolate that I don’t want to share.
When my husband comes home, he’s grouchy. His day is too long and he’s justifiably tired. He doesn’t see what I’ve done, he only sees what hasn’t been done. When I tell him I have to work more after the kid goes to sleep, he grumbles.
I ghostwrite and make up stories for people I’ve never met or seen. Though I like what I do, I’m already exhausted by 9:30 and I have to write until midnight. By the time I go to bed, my husband has been asleep for a couple of hours, and I crawl into bed next to him. This is the time I have all to myself. I have Lulabelle perched in clear sight: on the post of the dresser’s mirror. I don’t even have to lift my head to see her. She sits there and reminds me of who I am, or at least who I used to be. I think she gives me better dreams.
Lulabelle is my rabbit puppet. I can’t remember a time in my life when she didn’t live with me, and I don’t remember receiving her, so she must really have come directly from Puppetland. She has extraordinary eyesight because of the amount of carrots she consumes (vitamin A is good for the eyes), and she is Queen of Puppetland. She is ageless and can transport herself at will back and forth between Puppetland and our universe here. Lulabelle’s Earthy form goes limp when she is in Puppetland, which is basically any time I remove my hand from her.
Lulabelle is married to Theo the Lion, my brother’s Lion puppet. He is, of course, King of Puppetland, and his reign encompasses all puppets everywhere. He is a just and kind ruler, and well loved by all. If it seems odd that a bunny and a lion would be happily wed, remember that all puppets, regardless of the animal that they represent, are the same, magical species. See Kermit and Miss Piggy.
Lulabelle and Theo would hang out with us in my brother’s room. They co-hosted a radio show during which they would field questions from other puppets on how to deal with puppet problems such as voracious household pets and children who didn’t respect their dual citizenship. But almost always, an emergency would come up in Puppetland, and the King and Queen would have to go take care of things there. They were very effective leaders and worked together as a team. Lulabelle would use her extraordinary eyesight and Theo would use his incredible hearing to determine the best course of action and where they should be when their enemies attacked. Also, they were very skilled at settling disputes.
Once, my family took a road trip from our home in Michigan to our Aunt’s house in Denver, CO. On our way out there we happened upon a truck stop with an extensive collection of puppets for sale, and there just happened to be one with Theo’s body, but without the wear and tear suffered from years of being a little boy’s favorite toy. My mother bought the lion puppet, which was just an empty shell without a child and a home, and we took it home to Michigan with us. My brother and Lulabelle and I undertook the painstaking task of performing the brain transplant. We spent a whole morning making sure we did a good job—we didn’t want to leave any of Theo’s essence in the old puppet. We cleared out a place on my brother’s very messy bedroom floor and got to work. We transferred every bit of fluff from old Theo’s brain and didn’t miss a fiber. Puppetland was depending on us. Periodically, Lulabelle would go to Puppetland to report to the people, who were holding their collective breath. Luckily, they had nothing to worry about, because the operation was a success, and Theo was Theo—just fresh and young again.
Sometime in the past thirty years, Theo has decided to reside permanently in Puppetland—there is just too much for him to do there, and these frequent Earth visits started to become too much of a distraction. When my brother grew old enough to start making important decisions without the council of the wise and experienced Theo, the King of Puppetland, the lion went where he was needed most. Apparently I have never progressed to the level of maturity necessary to live independently from my puppet monarch, in spite of my advanced degree and motherhood status, because Lulabelle is still a permanent resident of my bedroom. It’s surprising, considering my wild youth and proclivity for moving about the country, that she’s still around and in such decent shape. But there she is, every night, reminding me that I was a kid once myself. She’s evidence of the wonderful but dubious truth that I was carefree and imaginative at one time, and maybe I could be again. And she also reminds me of my own childhood perspective on the world—how strange it seemed—which I hope makes me a better mother.
I will pass Lulabelle on to my daughter when I feel she’s old enough to appreciate the history of an object. It will be nice if she loves the bunny as much as I did, but that probably won’t happen. She is creating her own reality and she’ll have her own favorite toy for which she creates a personal mythology. Something she has now will end up being a magnet for sentimental value and future nostalgia, and there won’t be a time in her life that she doesn’t remember having it.