Friday, April 27, 2012

I Wish it Too

"Mommy, I wish I could live with you forever and with papa for sometimes."

The last words my son said before he fell asleep put me in a state of unrest. My heart breaks every time they go to with their father for "his" two weeks, but this phrase, uttered by my baby, haunted me to sleeplessness until morning.

I've had them for over a month now.  I've felt like myself for the first time in over two years.  I'm the mother I am, the mother I'm meant to be.  I give them so much; I give them all I am; I give it willingly.

But then, when they go; I'm empty.

I once thought that new love -one that takes the form of food, a lover, a sport -could fill their void, but to no avail.  I come close in the arms of my fiancee, but the wholeness of my being is lacking for the simple reason of my children not being nearby.  I search within myself, and it only proves time and again that the ME I've always been meant to be is, and has always been, "mother."

I'm not even maternal.  I'm probably more associated with being a dog-owner or horse-lover than a mom, but I only became whole when my daughter became part of me.  And I don't' mean that in the creepy, she's going to linger forever kind of way, but in the empty-nest way that a mother of very young children shouldn't have to experience.

I was so un-prepared to be a mother; I was ready to be hers.  I fought with my life to be hers, even sacrificed it, only to be revived so that I could be her living mother.

Initially, when deciding on a second child, my greatest fear with was that I might not love him as much; a fear overrun by reality and proven wrong the minute he became part of me; instead my heart doubled over and there was love to come.  So much more than I ever knew one person could hold; and so it was as I held him the other night, rocking him to sleep.

I should be driving to my fiancee's house, but my emptiness won't let me through the door.  I know with my mind I don't deserve the private hell I'm suffering, of my children being with my ex-husband; I fall so short of myself when they aren't with me.  I might be glad for the time I have without them, the time parents swear they'd use to do a million different things, but instead I try to rush into sleep.  I rush to the next time I see them.

I shouldn't be mourning their absence like death, but I do; a little every time.  Some of the greater hits I've taken have been more shattering than should be permissible in a mother's lifetime.  When they leave, sometimes I feel dead.  Sometimes I feel nothing.  Today I feel pain in my chest; -no. It's their absence.  Right now I feel their absence...

They are so young.  When my children tell me they wish they could be with me forever, it is next to impossible to hold back the tears, to not tell them that I want it, I want it even more than they do.  But they wouldn't understand at their age why I can't make it happen.  I've tried.  I've tried so many times and so hard and with so many attorneys but it's beyond my control.  For now, I'll just continue to miss them, and continue to wish for forever with them too.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"Castle Weeds"

image by slimmer_jimmer
I absorb the ground
My back-muscles drink the cold
Looking up I see
Sun-burned aster
long-stemmed, stretching
downward. Alive, listen
Blazing grey
dry, cool, still
drying the earth's sacrifice
Dry Hollow (wc/ hollow ng)
Whispering Rustling Worshiping
Proud Strong Endless Empty
Changing Knowing Touching
Frigid Hollow

Angelicum Eye

It was an eye that saw her grandmother's death, strung by an electrical cord from the rafters. She was nine at the time and it was ten years later. She stared into the April ocean, rocks in her pockets and determination anchored to her will. In all these years she had learned only one thing; her and her grandmother's fate were tied. She would never be the child-prodigy again, never run a bow across the violin strings again at all. She had failed them. She had failed at life. She put a fist around the cold, jagged stone and inhaled deeply and without thought. Wind cut her eyes, stopped her and breath, and caused her head to turn from the inevitable waves. The cold sucked an unemotional tear from her dry and intentional eyes. No feeling, no regret, no sense of anything but the pain of knowing that the only one who ever loved her would leave her in a tangle all her own, weighed down deeper so that nobody would ever find her the way she found her grandmother.

photograph (actually a drawing!) by an angelicum high school student (found through the school's website)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Murphy's Oil

After devouring as much cake as he could before it mysteriously disappeared into the hands, hatches and floors of the daycare, my son ran off with a friend and I had some time with my daughter.

We talked about her day. She was extremely excited about a new table and a new house and how nice it was to have a table; they had just set it up in the kitchen. My face started to sink as I listened through forced smile while she described to me my grandmother's dining-room table.  The one I'd lost in the divorce.

Childhood memories flooded my eyes, so I sucked them down toward my heart, stopping at my voice so I could share a singular memory from that childhood artifact that served as my inheritance. Rather than brand it as "mine," I thought I could simply share it with her from a distance.  I told her enough for her to know the table meant something to me; after-all, she could enjoy it, even if not with me.

When I got home, I started remembering.

Days like film-reels began at that table in my grandmother's house.  Friday nights, Saturday afternoons, weeks at a time in the summer, -stories like fairy-tales mixed with memories beyond imagination existed in that hearth center, a life-force that pounds even stronger sensed through the experiences of childhood.

Maybe its time for creative non-fiction to be a memoir, not for adults, but for the child inside who remembers Fourth of July like heaven, and thicket as a fairy fortress whose thorns protected me from dragons and angry babushkas.  Perhaps its time to nourish; time to get myself out of the rut and into a place that I remember as "safe" even when it did skin my knees to nothing.

My childhood exists somewhere in there.  I catch a shard-like glimmer of it on (very rare) occasion.  Maybe if I approach optimism like a quest, -risking an adventure to crack the stone of hardened memory.  Perhaps if I'm brave and take that risk, the light won't go all the way out, the way I so often feel it has.  I want so badly for it to be real.  I want so badly to catch fire once more.  And mostly, I want the light back so I can teach my amazing children how to keep it aflame throughout their lives.

Murphy's Magnificence

The night was horribly bittersweet. I hate going out after I've crash-landed at home but my son's recital was at 6:00. It was his father's week, and when I called.  He had already been picked up at daycare and  gone home, but the center was told that he would be back for the show. 

To be polite, his father isn't the exactly reliable when it comes to timeliness; to be polite, I had my doubts he would even show up.

I had exactly 30 minutes to debate the Murphy's Law bluff that if I went, my son would miss it, with the contra-indicative of the idea that if I missed it, he would be able to go.  I sucked it up and went, knowing that at least i tried; I couldn't control the inciting force otherwise known as the ex-husband.

I went through the inner montage of sadness, anger, frustration, "I knew this would happen" (among other, less-polite, inner dialogue) as the myriad teachers asked me where my son was.

I watched the show in its entirety, listening to his teacher say all of his lines.  My heart tightened into a fist that both squelched in my sorrow and tightened into anger.

Around the corner, a highly expectant and familiar face arrived as the parents and students dispersed to devour the cake.  It was the first time I had seen him in a suit. He was so handsome in pin-stripes and fancy man-shoes, my throat choked; I hardly knew what to do or say and doubted my ability to do either without breaking down into tears.

He'd missed it.

I was lost, but somehow managed a forced smile through my swollen throat and was able to comment on how handsome he looked. 

Then I heard a magical sound.  Teachers really are angels.  It was that moment, as my voice cracked that his teacher announced a special reprieve; the kindergardeners would preform an encore show -this time with the full ensemble cast.  My little man was great.  No.  

He was magnificent.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Little Trouble Maker

Aurelia’s youngest daughter was over the top that morning. It was worse than the bath tantrum that Sunday night, a forty-five minute scream-fest of refusal to bathe. It was like that now. She would get them, greasy, overtired, hungry; but at least now they were safe. Still, her daughter lacked the ability to understand the anger accompanying the confusion of separation. Was she being punished? He’d promised her punishment in exchange of any kind of retreat from him. Was she being blamed? Surely if she blamed herself enough for her child’s helplessness she wouldn’t be blamed by her children.

It was Wednesday. There were two semi-peaceful days of standard sibling pissing contests and territorial rivalry. The three girls were a handful, but they were with her; they were where they should be. But some days… Was she a bad mother to wish she had some alone time?

This morning alone, there were three incidents and a tantrum that shifted topic from socks to toys to buttons to yogurt to zipping to moving anywhere at all -another one of those days. She wondered how many letters would be sent to management that day regarding unwanted, screaming, children who woke them up before their alarm-clocks forced them into their days. She tried not to think about it; she was already running late and her new goal was to get everyone in the car, strapped, sealed, and delivered.

There would be two stops. She just had to keep them from driving her insane for two stops. When they got to the first, the tantrum got physical when her daughter slammed the buckle from her lap and at her face when she slid open the door. It hit her. Hard. Hard enough to welt; even with all she had survived, she kept the shame of bruising beneath blouses and boots.

But that wasn't the issue.

The trouble started when the car-seat hit her over the head. and started to scream. It was just like him. Suddenly she was in the kitchen, not next to the open door of her minivan, but besidethe refridgerator, wishing for the strength to hold it between him and her, realizing what a terrible idea that was only when he started to grab the bottles... beer, ketcup, and cracked them over the back of her head and shoulders. Suddenly her sweet, sweet daughter was him. She saw her as him.

And she was terrified that it wasn't over.  That it wouldn't stop. All the work it took to escape was in vain. Her daughter was her husband. She was crying, confused where she was, at the fact that her four year old had this power, this rage. What did she do? How did they get here?

"Mommy!!! Hurry up! Someone's coming! Someone's coming from the school!" Her oldest daughter saved her not only from humiliation, but probabl from having the kids taken away. She knew she was unstable, that this wasn't how it was supposed to be. She left that world so she wouldn't ever have to go back, and here she was again, perhaps even more scared of this new predicament.

By the time the director came out and confronted her, she had cleared the mascara from her eyes, covered her cheek with her hair and a scarf, and politely said, "yep. Just a little trouble from my little trouble maker."

She flashed an exceptional smile, and it seemed to please the director enough so that the quizzical look softened. Aurelia got up, hugged her youngest, and told her to have a great day.

They reached the second destination in silence.