Trying to recover, at least. The process never feels complete, as the hours while the kids are in school fly by and I am always somehow still connected to them: through their laundry, in meetings with their teachers, by the emails I’m sending to the rest of the parents in The Kid’s class.
I’m getting ahead of myself. The point is: the school year has begun, began five weeks ago actually, and I am in many ways just now coming up for air.
Little Brother’s last day at his first childcare spot in Sydney was a few days ago, and they sent him off with a huge card full of pictures and notes. I cried, naturally. Goodbyes are almost as hard as hellos for me. We drove away and I processed how this familiar place, where he is loved, will from now on be a part of our past. (It’s possible I overthink things. I’ve heard one of my weaknesses is that I care too much.) And now he’s fully immersed in his new preschool, where they are beginning to love him–his teacher yesterday told me that whenever LB goes to the toilet, he announces, “My mom will be so proud!” He’s not crying at dropoff. Life goes on.
And The Kid. Well, I’m back into advocacy mode with him, having spent two mornings in the principal’s office this week due to teacher difficulty. I’m acquainting other people with him, filling in the picture that’s nowhere near complete for them yet, and picking up that brush again can be exhausting and…fraught. Finding his place is, for now, my role, and it runs the span of emotions daily.
Last night I fell asleep with LB beside me; this morning I woke up with TK beside me. The days start early and in full-on mode, those first two hours full of sandwich-making, breakfast-dispensing, coffee-drinking, toilet-visiting, scream-stifling, brother-fighting, anxiety-managing chaos.
And later, when they come home? Sorry not sorry, but playing with kids is the worst. LB has all these rules: “Be the bad guy! No, NOT LIKE THAT.” And TK is constantly asking questions, the whys affording a glimpse into his beautiful mind while driving me to the edge of insanity, these pendulum swings between love and rage, understanding and confusion, laughter and tears the measure of our time together.
Also, the questions TK asks really should be directed more toward experts in the respective fields: physicists, theologians,, meteorologists. Because really, how am I supposed to answer why God takes people to heaven after their hearts break and the hospital can’t fix them and the moon is behind the clouds and walking uphill is harder while I’m making another f-ing sandwich?
Someone asked me awhile back if having kids changed my writing. Again, maybe an expert should respond, but here’s my take: Having kids changed everything. As far as my writing goes, they frustrate it even as they inspire it; the interrupt it as they provide all the parts of it that matter. Mainly, though? They ignite it like never before.
That’s the thing, the worst and best thing of it all: they kill me to bring me to life. I think they got the idea from God, and grace.
Last night LB would NOT go to sleep. I let him come upstairs with me since The Husband was a dinner, and I thought I had been more surreptitious with comments made under my breath. But lying there beside me, he began to whisper: “Fuck fuck fuck.” FAILURE AGAIN. Sound the alarms. And this after I’d lost my temper enough times to approach sleep from a shame spiral.
Just before that, before TK had fallen asleep, the boys were fighting and squealing in bed and I had explained to them, through gritted teeth, how hard it is for me when they’re both making demands at the same time. That I’m not their servant, but their mother. TK asked if my heart was broken, and I assured him it wasn’t.
And after all that mess, all that death…life. TK reached out for me. “I love you,” he said, so softly I had to ask him to repeat it. He did, those all-too-rare-from-him words sinking into a heart that, let’s face it, is always somewhat broken. An hour and terse words after that, TH arrived home to find me and my arch-nemesis/BFF, LB, spooning in bed. Tomorrow, I’ll spend my third day in a row in the principal’s office, trying to sort out what being my child’s advocate looks like right now.
Yesterday, after (another, always) rough morning, I drove by the beach on the way home. I got out of the car and walked to the edge of the sidewalk, stared at the water and the gray clouds, felt the wind whip through my air, sand blow across my face. No one would pick this weather scenario for a day on the shore, but still…sometimes you can smell the salt better on days like that. Smelling the salts that are meant to revive.