Leap Day comes once every four years and Kendra accepts it as extra. On this one day nothing is lost because everything is a gift. It's an outlier day on the calendar, a day in which she takes everything as freely given.
Kendra wishes she could view every day in this light: a gift of time. Pure. But it's difficult to maintain that high level of optimism on a daily basis. She'd have to drop a few IQ points. Once every four years will have to do.
Kendra sits at the kitchen table and stirs soy milk into her coffee. It's four in the morning and everyone in the neighborhood is asleep. This is her second Leap Day as a parent, the first in which her kids are old enough to get it.
Isn't this how kids see every day? A gift of time from the vast universe, no end in sight. She probably said something like this herself before having kids of her own. Now she understands that this is nothing but bumper sticker bullshit. No one gives kids any credit. They're not blind. They have bad days.
She used to cry when she was a kid at the thought of growing up. She thought she'd never have whole empty days again, never have a minute to herself. It turns out she was more or less correct, but it's not as bad being grown up as she thought it would be. That's what her mother told her at the time, and her mother was right. "It happens gradually," she said. "You get used to it."
"Never!" Kendra thought back then. But it's true. You do.
Kendra vows to really listen today. She's working a half day seeing patients, and then the rest of the day at home. The house is a mess, but so be it. She will not clean on Leap Day. Or maybe that's exactly what she should do. The kids will be in school, Joe's gone this week to a meeting in Denver. She'll pour all of her energy into cleaning the house. It'll be like a workout. She'll do it with ankle weights.
This is how a life passes, she thinks, staring at her reflection in the big, black kitchen window. Leap Day to Leap Day, forever cleaning the house, forever trying to get out of it.