This past weekend was difficult. Tensions ran high, nerves were frayed, voices were raised. I was reminded, for the umpteenth time, that Matt and I are Grace and Whit’s weather, and though they exhibit it differently they are both keenly aware of our moods. It’s a big responsibility, being someone else’s sky: when I’m stormy, that has a huge impact on them. Still, still, I had my camera out, and I was able to unearth a few gems from a weekend otherwise filled with a slurry of sorrow and frustration.
Grace let me braid her hair. This reminded me of my own childhood, spent often in two uneven braids. This was the result of several tries; I’m not a good hair-doer. Still, the braids were perfect.
Matt got home late on Friday night so I took Grace and Whit to our local pizzeria for slices for dinner. As we waited I turned to shush them and saw that they were (loudly) dancing around the empty room. My voice, raised to tell them to be quiet (oh, irony, I know) stilled in my throat and tears sprang to my eyes. It was perfect.
Saturday night Whit would not go to sleep. He was wired and tired, bouncing off the walls with a frantic energy. Everything was a chore: trying to get him to brush his teeth, clean up his room, put on his pajamas. My defenses were (and remain) paper-thin: the mere sight of his big top teeth coming in, where so recently there was a gaping gap, made me cry. And still, amid all of that, I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw this in the mirror. It was perfect.
Late on Sunday afternoon Whit and I dropped Grace off at a friend’s house and, needing an escape from the house, drove to the cemetery nearby. We arrived at our tower to discover that they had just closed it. Crestfallen, we got in the car, and then Whit asked me to pull over so we could climb down to a pond at the bottom of a ravine. I did, and followed him as he skipped ahead of me down the narrow path. The end of the day grew dusky, and I waved away mosquitoes as I watched Whit watching a pair of ducks and a small, silent turtle at the edge of the pond. Moments of calm descended on me, but I also felt aggravated, and impatient, and aware of an internal thunder whose rumbling I could not quiet.
Finally we turned to head back to the car and made our way back up the path. Whit trailed me, carrying his “walking stick.” “Mummy?” I heard him say behind me. I turned. “Yes?” “I really like when we spend time just you and me.” It was perfect.
One year and one day ago I wrote these words:
I need to trust that as surely as my frustrations and irritations, my guilt and paralyzing panic about missing it rise up, they will ebb away. These emotions are clouds sliding across the sky of my life, that is all. This is what I am realizing: it is up to me whether I let these feelings, these moments when I am not the mother I want to be, mar the perfection of this life. And I won’t let them. I can’t change, I don’t think, the spikes of agitation and restlessness that sometimes overtake me so fast my head spins. But I can change how I let them impact my overall sense of my days, of my life.
This life, this moment: it’s all so perfect it breaks my heart. Every day.
And my emotional sky remains full of clouds, and it’s all still perfect.
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