There is something about being home and being lost.
I start thinking my house is the problem.
I’m furious with someone and I start to hate everything.
Mim is talking more and constantly- she has been talking a lot for years but her conversational style has sped up and she asks questions non stop- which is a great way for her to advocate for herself. She questions our server at the restaurant, the woman who speaks little english at the nail salon, the guy you pay at the pool, a lady in line for the bathroom, the gas station cashier, a guy meeting people at the airport. She is fairly constant and I am Tired. The kind of Tired that feels like mild depression and that feeling of being lost in your own world. In your own home.
Sometimes I am lost within myself. I don’t even want to be around my own self and I can’t find the way to the right place away from myself. There is no GPS for this situation and Grace (who the rest of the world calls Siri) is just so fucking bossy anyway. You know I would listen to her, either.
Tuck is home from California- it had been 7 months since I had seen him. That is just all together too long- I should have visited him this spring. A mom, this mom, should not go that long without seeing her baby boy. We sat at Raging Burrito watching the World Cup and we got to see the overtime and PKs which is the most exciting part. I thought Russia was Croatia and Croatia was Russia. I mixed up the team colors for like 30 minutes and he pointed it out once and I didn’t catch on and I kept commenting occasionally and then he told me again and I understood this time. I knew I had become or had succumb to being the annoying mom of a college student who no longer lived at home. I know less than nothing and he knows about a whole world out there that I can’t even imagine. I felt like Mollie Gavigan used to feel when her boys would come home from college and with all the love in the world they would roll their eyes at something she said and Mollie and I (the babysitter) would know that the boys thought she didn’t understand. There was this new us against them. And now I am the other. The one taking too long to understand something so simple as which team is red and which team is blue. I wasn’t speaking Tuck’s language. And it was really nothing, truly. Just silly dumb stuff. But- I was lost. Wanting to be attached to my long gone boy and being a string clinging to his jeans and matter of factly brushed off.
BeBe is busy. The summer before college and I ask her dumb questions, too.
George went camping with Chad just for the night but that has left me without my personal assistant.
Dolly was having one of those moments when she was venting and I was hushed from helping. She wants a listening ear without opinions or head nods or knowing smiles. I was dismissed.
Mim yells a lot.
She doesn’t know she is yelling. She is crushed easily and when she is embarrassed she lashes out at me or herself. Today she broke glass inside a frame when she stomped past and Tuck said she should stomp less and she ran outside screaming in anguish saying “I made a mistake and Tuck is so mean. I feel horrible.” And this is awesome progress. Awesome. This use of words is so much growth- she had been only able to say “I don’t know” when she got upset.
We ended our night running the dogs at a park and getting snowcones which sounds like a nice summer evening and it was but it ended with Mim crying because BeBe was going on a date and Mim wasn’t invited. Mim begged and pleaded. I decided to take this moment of hell and just wash her hair. Might as well get two hells for the price of one. And she begged for her goggles from the car which B had just driven off in. I suggested that she could swim without the googles in the tub and …. she did. She told me not to cheer or clap and not to tell anyone but she did it. She was proud. She spent a considerable amount of time like 7 minutes doing it over and over again. She got the shampoo out on her own for the first time in nine and a half years. The combing process went better than usual. The swimming lowered her sensory processing nuts and it allowed her to let me brush her hair without claiming bugs were all over her.
She took my phone and wrapped in two towels she watched Netflix on the couch.
I went outside in a moment of peace. Frida was licking peanut butter off a plastic bone. Gnats flew above my head. Fireflies blinked. And a breeze blew. And another breeze blew. I thought about Jimmy Carter. He has seen the whole world and he chooses to live in Plains, Georgia. I can be happy in Atlanta? I can be happy in Atlanta. I’m home. I’m not lost. I’m not depleted here. I could be renewed here. I love the beach. I love road trips. I love to see things I never get to see. And I can love home and not be simple minded or dull.
I went to the High Museum today and saw the Winnie the Pooh exhibit. It was nice to see the sketches. The Howard Finsters have been moved because of renovations but we landed in the right space and found his passionate overflows of art and words and praise. Mim asked if he was an owl. I showed her a painting of Howard on a donkey and said that is Howard and she said “which one?’ Meaning is Howard Finster the donkey or the man. You gotta love a brain that can ask that question.
Aunt Kay- my owl has been around recently. I guess she heard I was lost and home.
I got my feet knocked out from under me on July 4th. It used to be my favorite holiday- very little preparation and lots of family and sweaty faces beaming in the red glow of fireworks and cradling the youngest so that she or he feels safe in the dark with explosions above.
I wore a Mexican dress in protest. Two out of six kids were with me. Plus two dogs. The rain descended like a plague. Mim already can’t see in the dark and the rain and tears made her glasses opaque. My peach chenille blanket with ball fringe edges was soaked and George held the dogs leashes and Mim’s roller skates. We ran for the overhang at the post office where the drunk asshole who had already lectured me about fireworks being a dumb place to bring dogs waited. Why do drunk men turn into know it alls? Mim needed holdings. It has gotten hard for me to hold her for long periods of time. And she needed me. She is 9 and almost as tall as me.
I have had this Stop Me In My Mothering Tracks Feeling twice in my life. And both times it set me back for days. The feeling is “I can’t.” This job is too hard.
I’ve heard other mothers say it happened when all three children got a stomach bug or when their 4 year old got lost at the beach. For me, the first time was when Beatrice was 12 months and she burnt both her hands and I had no idea how she had burnt her tiny palms. After a day of detective work I discovered the drawer handle to the oven drawer was hot and she had pulled up on it. Her baby perfect hands were sheets of blisters. Her pure milky pink skin was raised and scarred. And it hit me. I can’t keep her safe. No matter how much I watch and keep her close. Accidents are possible and probable and my protective seal was broken. Life wasn’t childproof. My arms that I viewed as their cradle of civilization were not enough. It would be impossible to keep my children safe. This whole thing of mothering felt like a farce. Life was insecure at best.
And the second time was July 4th, 2018, Mimmy was too heavy for me to hold and walk a mile home in the rain. Of all the things I have experienced as a mom (crazy hospital stays, broken bones, a car accident)- these two small moments were the ones that destroyed me. I can’t do it all. Even when I am doing my best, I will fail.
I knew it when it was happening. The rain was pouring and I thought to myself just laugh and enjoy the rain and I was concrete. George offered to carry her the mile home but I talked her into walking and she did it amazingly well. I couldn’t have G carry her because what about the next time when he isn’t there. I had never imagined needing to hold my child or my child needing to be held and not being able to either fulfill the need myself or handing her to her dad- my husband (who was no longer my husband.) The breath was knocked out of me. I was stripped of every ounce of can do. *Single parenting was not what I had imagined of my favorite holiday. There should have been a wagon and a cooler and a dad with a lanky 9 year old on his shoulders and a mom traipsing along through a summer storm with 5 little ducklings following behind. Instead, it was me, George and Mim with a group of drunks huddled under the post office overhang waiting for a storm to let up.
Mim is falling asleep next to me and she just popped up to say “Text BeBe and make sure she is not kissing.” So if anyone sees B out in Decatur let her know -Mim says no kissing. Dolly is watching MaMa Mia so I should go join her. Tuck came home to look for a fake ID his friend had accidentally left here last year. I can’t remember where I put it. Maybe I threw it away.
*When I use the words single parenting, I am aware of how loaded that term is. When friends post on Facebook- “I am single parenting this weekend. My husband is in Utah for work.” I want to punch them. That is not single parenting. My husband when we were married, worked a lot. Weekends, out of town, and every other available minute- but I couldn’t call that single parenting. And now I’m divorced and I still don’t single parent. My kids have two parents. We work together to support the kids monetarily, spiritually, physically, emotionally and cosmically. My kids have two people who love them. I am not alone in my care of the children. It is hard and it isn’t fair or right but technically there are two of us. Some moms and some dads truly single parent. Like catch the bus, take the baby to day care, work 8-7, do the laundry at a laundry mat, and feed the kids and fall in bed with no one to call and say “can you pick up the kids from day care tomorrow?” No one to stay home with a sick child. No one to say did you see that? No one to help in an emergency. That is single parenting.
**I am linking a single parenting article that might help you imagine how it feels.