Right Down the Middle

This morning I dropped Little Brother off for his second day at his new preschool, which was going swimmingly until I decided to leave, then they had to hold him back while I walked out the door, his shrieks following me to the street. Assume the maternal guilt pose. Then it was The Kid’s turn, for his first day of year one, which he’s been counting down to daily. He took the news of his former therapist’s moving on well when I told him in the car last week so that I wouldn’t have to meet his eye and start crying, and he ran ahead of me as we approached the school gates so that I was afforded the opportunity to scream his name in the middle of the street in terror, then we entered the school yard and a sea of people. He remained excited, if a bit more subdued, as I had fed him the lie that his therapist was stuck in traffic and would arrive shortly. (“Stuck in traffic” = had a death in the family yesterday; “shortly” = by noon.)

What I’m saying is, WHO’S GOING TO POUR ME A DRINK?!

A learning support teacher stepped out of the crowd and homed in on us immediately, God being all anonymous and such, and she promised to stay by his side until his therapist arrived. I waited with the parents of some of TK’s classmates, all of us reluctant to step away just yet. One child cried in his mother’s arms and she gently led him to the class, then stepped out and cried into her husband’s arms. Our war-torn army of veterans then left the battle scene to head in our own directions.

I assumed the maternal guilt pose. Then I prayed. Then I went for a run. Now, I’m just…in the between.

For the first time in a month and a half I’ve got both kids at school. It’s exhilarating and exhausting. We wake up earlier and I’ve got lunches to make. The anxiety sets in when (before) my feet hit the floor. I love it and hate it. I sit suspended in this space, split down the middle: free and chained, happy and sad, concerned and distracted. And it appears that things will always be this way. YAY.

Both of my boys were pulled from my body; even at birth I was unable to push them away. I’ve a biological predisposition for difficulty letting go. But damn was I also ready for them to get out of there. It’s this life between extremes that is so tiring and confusing and fraught, and medication only partly helps.

Where is my drink? How are my kids?

A friend (let’s call her The Sis) told me once that when she’s away from her kids for too long (a year or so) she can’t wait to get back to them, but she knows that within five minutes she’ll feel weary again. SAME. Is it being human, or being mother, that lends itself to this ambivalent form of living? I tend to think it’s being part of the whole now but not yet, home but not life on this earth; the hint of more underlying everything and making a promise that hasn’t yet been fulfilled.

It’s hard, is what I’m saying. And this split existence carries over into the little moments with my boys, the ways they each show up with pieces of me. For so long I assigned LB to The Husband in terms of genetic inheritance: looks, laid-back attitude. TK, poor guy, got all my anxiety and nervous twitches. But each day brings something new: TK laughs like TH, or LB flies off the handle and I assume the maternal guilt pose, all “I resemble that.”

They have split me down the middle, but I’m still jagged. There are rough edges and curves and somehow this all fits together better than a clean cut. Complications persist, and the story goes on.

The other day I was thinking I should make a business card that reads “Professional (ha) Mother: When I say Yes I mean Maybe.” When I say calm I mean frazzled. When I say wired I mean tired. When I say terrified I mean…I am…held. Grace where I am, which right now is hours away from pickup, blocks away from my children, and somehow right where we’re supposed to be.

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