And then, just when I decide that I'll never get a handle on anything, it all comes together: I get a good haircut on Friday, and on Saturday I wake up early and run the dogs for three miles straight. I shower and put on earrings. I sit and read the paper while the baby is napping. I play in the baby pool with my 2-year-old while my husband makes us all dinner, then I have a beer and watch Suze Orman yell at people who are far less financially responsible than I am, while the baby yells along from her play chair.

"That's it!" I think. "I've finally turned the corner! Everything is right. I've arrived at last. Everything will be perfect from now on!"

Of course, that's not true. But this is: I love this f***ing clown show of mine. The unruly dogs, the distracted husband, the alternately sweet and enraged 2-year-old, the enormous baby who still wakes up at 4 A.M. even though she clearly has the fat stores to hibernate through a long winter. I love them all, along with my overwrought teenage stepson and my little, overheated house and my hairy rugs and my smudged windows and my scrappy, overgrown yard, and all of the imperfect manifestations of this imperfect life. I am flawed, flawed, flawed, and I will rarely feel shiny and complete and utterly calm and prepared.

But look how hard we try, you and me, us and them, everyone. Isn't it sort of sweet, to see how determined we are to do better, to be stronger, to make sure our kids and our mothers and our partners and even our dogs know that they're loved? Sometimes, even as my world is in chaos, I see myself braiding my daughter's hair, drinking my tea, blending up a fruit smoothie and singing and dancing crazily to distract the baby from the blender's scary, grinding sound, and I think: "That woman is weird, but she does seem to be enjoying herself."

Adapted from Disaster Preparedness (Riverhead), by Heather Havrilesky, copyright © 2010.

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