The Hillhouse

The Journey of a Mother and Son

Snowflakes February 28, 2011

Filed under: An Ongoing Journal...,Divorce Diary,Pics — wingmother @ 6:11 pm
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It’s a snowy December night in a tiny, rural Midwestern town. We are at the town’s recreation center, a building that looks rather like a four car garage. The grounds are a few open acres with a playground at the far end. Beyond the chain link fence an ocean of cornfields extends for miles out into the blackness. Big, sparkly clusters of snowflakes are falling. They seem to appear from out of nowhere when they hit the parking lot lights. A narrow gauge train idles near the sidewalk waiting for the next load of passengers, which will be shuttled along a great oval track around the park. The train will pass homemade displays of lights setup across the lawn, the ride culminating in its passage through a tunnel of lit Christmas trees near the loop’s completion. It’s a nice crowd – enough families to be lively, yet nowhere close to crowded. A good place to be at this holiday time of year.

Our four-year-old son wants to see the train up close. Already marching to the beat of a very different drummer, he wants to know if the little train has a diesel engine, and he wants to see so for himself. Currently, he is a train boy. A little bit of Thomas the tank engine, yes, but mostly he lives on a constant stream of information about the history and evolution of the train. His book collection is mostly limited to encyclopedic volumes on the subject. He has learned how to instantly multiply by two, motivated by the need to know the type of train as described by its wheel profile. He knows his ponies from his drivers. This is the place to be at Christmastime for just such a young boy.

I hold his father’s hand and our son walks ahead of us to the train. We are walking slowly. It is one of those magical winter nights. As I look upwards towards the falling flakes I feel as if I’m flying forward through space at a great speed. The snow is so perfect it hardly looks real. I look at my husband with a question on my face. He squeezes my hand reassuringly, and then winks both his eyes – he isn’t able to wink just one at a time – and he nods just a bit, with a half smile. “Nothing will change,” he says. “You’ll see. It will always be like this”. Really? I think. I wonder if I heard correctly. I feel like I’m drugged anyway. I’m not sure what’s real right now. Did he just say it will always be like this? How could it be? I wonder. Then I ask him this aloud, but my voice is soft, and it sounds like I’m talking to myself. I am in a daze. I can’t decide whether the setting takes the edge off, or if it just adds to the surreal quality of my life tonight.

Just a few weeks earlier my middle-aged husband told me he had a young girlfriend in our new community, and that he had decided he was going to make his new life with her. The words he used sounded sickly chauvinistic in this strange new context: “she’s carrying my baby” he’d said to me. They’d been through a lot together he explained; she’d been pregnant by him once before, but she’d chosen to have an abortion. They’d been on again and off again for the past two years, struggling in their lover’s dilemma. He’d thought I’d known about her.

I hadn’t.

The past three weeks since he’d told me, he’d seemed much lighter. He had been increasingly distant and less like his old self of the past couple of years. Although I wasn’t the recipient of his affection any more, at least I benefited from his lighter mood recently. He had unburdened himself. He was finally free. But my incarceration was just beginning.

Just two years earlier, I’d been in our beloved Evanston home just outside of Chicago, making tea for my husband and father-in-law who sat on the couch, and who had begun to make their pitch about my husband and me buying a business. They were proposing we buy a building in the town in which my husband taught part time, in a town 75 miles from our home. The building even came with a restaurant – one which we could own and run ourselves. At first I was puzzled; we were musicians, what did we know about running a restaurant? I paused for a moment to understand them better – wait, were they actually serious about all of this? Yes. It turned out they were.

My husband was convinced that with the current team of employees, the place would easily run itself; we didn’t even need to be there! It just didn’t sound realistic to me, and I wasn’t on board. I’d worked plenty of waitress jobs, and I knew that running a restaurant was so much more than a full time job. I also knew that absentee owners were completely at the mercy of the staff. When the cats were away, the mice were definitely hosting after hours parties.

But the pitch continued for weeks, months. It was a sure thing. A sound thing. A dependable source of income. We went to inspect the place and then pour over the pages of numbers the previous owner provided for us. (I’ve since learned about the malleability of numbers; they can be arranged as creatively as a piece of music.) Finally, we were going to own a real, money-making commercial property just like his parents. We would be real grown ups now.

The restaurant was in a small college town that was an hour and a half’s drive away from our current home; it was the town in which my husband taught three days a week at a state University. The weekly commute he made was becoming too much for him – and also too much for all three of us. Although we weren’t entirely decided, we had begun the discussion about moving. If we were going to have a second child, it really did seem to make sense. My husband made the point that until we made the decision whether to move or not, he was out there every week anyway – he would be there to make sure things ran smoothly.

Even though I was never completely convinced it was a great idea, I really did want to support my husband in his vision; is that not what your partner is for? Yet I found myself wondering if it really was his vision – or his father’s. In the end it didn’t matter; whether he was driven to acquire the property to impress his father or to satisfy his own ambition, it was becoming very important to him. He was fired up to do this, and he needed me on board. So I agreed. We went ahead and bought the building, and the business too.

For a year it seemed to go all right. My heart was still tied to the community in which I’d lived my entire personal and professional life – where we continued to live – and I wasn’t keen on moving. I was now mother to a young child with low vision issues who needed my help physically navigating about his world. I had experienced the sorrow and loneliness of a miscarriage that year too. My husband had been out of the country on the day I miscarried. He was on the road a lot. He later confessed he “knew it was over” when I miscarried.

Wait, what? A two-decade union is just “over” when the wife miscarries?

It seemed to me that this should have been a time for solidarity, love and compassion, a coming together and a re-dedication to create the family that was yet to be…  I’d kinda thought that was where we would find ourselves. But instead, no discussion was had, and I just assumed we were on the same page. The marriage went on for two more years during which he never brought up the subject. I had no idea that he’d considered us “over” from that first miscarriage. Hope pulled me forward. Our family would join us soon; our someday couldn’t be too far off. After all, we made no efforts to prevent a new soul from joining us…

When my husband wasn’t teaching, he was touring. I was on hold, waiting. Just waiting. My husband didn’t talk about looking for a house anymore. When we spoke, he talked only of the business. Things I couldn’t really help him with. I spent most of my time at home, he spent most of his time away. Within months the darkness began.

The restaurant manager in whom my husband had put his trust was ruining us. Whether she was stealing, making bad choices – or both – it didn’t matter. Here was the alarm call. What seemed like a far-off reality became my immediate to-do list. Clean, pack, list old home, find new home. Within months I was standing in the living room of our new house, surrounded by boxes, two cats and a small child. Starting over.

The next year was a whirlwind. I had to step in and run a business, I had to use whatever knowledge my previous supplemental part time jobs had taught me. I had to order food, create menus, set prices, paint walls, unclog toilets, renew liquor licenses, pass health inspections, tally time cards, hire bands, fire employees, make peace with the police, meet with the mayor, settle disputes. It was baptism by fire, and nothing I’d bargained for. My Pakistani father in law kept telling me we should just sell homemade pakoras and that would save the business. My husband told me it was not as hard as I made it seem. “I ran this from a cell phone for a year!” he would scold. And so I muscled on. In one year I experienced events that I would have expected from a decade.

Between the duties of café owner and mother I fairly passed out at the end of each grueling day. I’d noticed my husband taking on a strangely quiet distance – and our sex life was currently non-existent – but as the business was hemorrhaging money I thought it was the obvious reason for the changes in him. There was a pit of fear in my stomach nearly every day of that year. Just getting out of bed in the morning took a huge effort of will. I’d figured my husband, my partner of more than two decades, was feeling the stress too, and this was his way of riding out the tough time.

After two years we finally decided the grand experiment was over. I had a good plan. I also had a good manager. She wanted in, and I wanted out. We passed the café on to her. Now we would simply collect rent on the space. When she signed the lease, I felt the most supreme relief I’d felt in years. In spite of a two year detour, we were now poised for our new life to begin. A new life to be sure. Not one I ever could have seen on the horizon.

We wrapped up the business. Then a few weeks later, we wrapped up our marriage.

Fareed had a pregnant girlfriend, and that was that. He’d been increasingly distant over the past two years, and now, at the very least, I had finally learned why. It’s one of the worst kinds of things to hear said aloud. So painful, so strange. So unreal. So surreal.

It is now almost three years later. I live on ten acres in rural upstate New York, just outside an historic, cosmopolitan college town. I live two doors over from my aging parents with our son, who is now 7. I am now 47, and have finally come to terms with the reality that I will no longer bear another child. My husband now has two young boys with his girlfriend. The juxtaposition of her youthful, childbearing chapter and my peri-menopausal reality can weigh heavy on my heart if I think too long about it.

As with any experience in life, it’s often not until the event is well in your past that you can fully glean the insight it offers. For as much sorrow as I have felt over not having our second child, I can say now that I am glad not to be parenting two young children by myself. For I surely would have been, if I hadn’t miscarried. The relationship I have with my son would be entirely different if he had a sibling who also needed me. I simply would not be able to devote myself as fully to two children as I can to one.

I want to be truthful about our new life. Sometimes it is downright lonely. Sometimes it really hurts. The poverty we now live with can add to the sense of betrayal, especially when we’re weakened with grief. There are moments when my son weeps inconsolably that we two live alone, that he lives without siblings, without a dad, without the noise of a full house… There are moments when I too can do no more than drop my face in my hands and sob, for me, for my son…. My heart just breaks that my son will never have a father here in our home; a father to help with homework, to sit at the supper table, to wrestle with on the living room floor… I am, however, grateful that he’ll always have his father in his life. His dad visits every month or so, and our son goes back to the midwest too. When he visits his father, our son stays in our old house, in his own bedroom. He does have a father, and a father who loves him dearly. He’s ahead of many.

Although I would never have chosen any of these experiences for myself, life has given me a surprising reward in exchange. I have a relationship with my son that is so intimate, honest and strong, that I absolutely know I got a good deal – even with the betrayal and sorrow. My son and I are living a life rich in nature, music, art, self-discovery and love. A life very different from the one we might have had. I could never have envisioned our life as it is now. Everything about our new life was a total surprise; our new life simply came from out of nowhere.

In spite of the hardship, the last few years have presented me with so many opportunities. Even in the midst of my pain, I was always aware that there were lessons here somewhere that I needed to learn. Things I needed to pay attention to, to resolve. But despite my own self-coaching, learning still just isn’t as easy as it seems it should be. Sometimes, when I think I’ve got my head wrapped around this, and I’m praying for forgiveness to live in my heart – just when answers should be a moot point – questions still pop into my mind. And I often think of that snowy night at the Christmas train ride…

What did my husband mean when he said nothing would change (while holding my hand)? Everything changed! Oh how many times I’ve wondered just what exactly was he was thinking when he said those things to me! Did he mean them, or were they just words to soften the sting? Or might he have truly believed them?

When the questions and the ‘what ifs’ arise, I make an effort to send them on their way as quickly as possible. These past few years I’ve seen what a waste of energy it is to consider the things that might have happened. This happened. It’s my reality. I start from here. There is no other option.

People see the same things so very differently. What was my former husband experiencing that night?  I don’t know. What choices was he planning on making? No idea. I can only know my own experience, and I can only know the choices I make for myself.

And so, I will choose to remember the beautiful snowflakes that appeared from out of nowhere.

 

Ruminatrix November 30, 2014

When my dad’s estate was finally settled and the funds put into an account, my mother was given a checkbook to draw on the funds. I thought she’d have been mostly pleased that there was something to draw on even – but that was eclipsed each and every time she’d pull out the checkbook by the horrible thing she saw printed upon them. She let out a veritable shriek when she first explained the situation to me… My mother almost always takes any situation and immediately finds – and calls attention to in the bitterest way possible – the great, personally-directed injustice of it (for her a glass is always half empty and not half full, a fear-based reaction likely tied to her father leaving her family for good when she was ten). And this checkbook presented a major offense, it appeared. In fact, it was a two-pronged offense in her eyes; on the one hand she’d lost her identity again, and had reverted from “Nancy J.” back to a “Mrs. Robert S.” (her generation has strong feelings about women’s hard-earned rights), and secondly, her title was listed as “Executrix”. Hm. Sure, I paused at that. I needed a moment to understand it, but certainly, these estate planning folks knew what they were doing, this must have been a case of archaic language surfacing in modern legalese. “Trix” was merely the feminine for “tor” and should be taken as nothing else. (Yes, I know, our modern minds all go immediately to “domenatrix”.) For some reason this feminine form of “executor” has survived, while other words like “aviatrix” or “administratix” have not; I suppose it’s another gender-equalizing step forward in the de-sexing of our language. Guess I can understand mom’s displeasure a bit better. Regardless of her feelings on the matter, there you have it. My mother is an executrix.

My mother is also, once again, Nancy. She is still someone’s widow, but in some ways she’s now coming into a new version of herself that wasn’t possible when dad was alive. I get that. In her day a woman lost her name when she married, it wasn’t questioned. In her case, she also lost whatever it might have been to be Nancy, instead, she became the wife of a famous harpsichordist. To her great credit, while Andrew and I were still small, she went back to college and earned a Bachelor of Science, and got herself a job at the local hospital. I remember seeing her at the kitchen table with her Texas Instruments calculator, the size of a small brick, working on numbers way into the night. So growing up, I naturally thought her to be a math type, unafraid (as I was) of calculations. Maybe she even liked math. It seemed so. At least I never heard her complain. And it wasn’t until recently, as we discussed Elihu’s math assignments for school, that I heard her make a comment that shattered my previous assumptions about her. She felt herself actually bad at math. It was her weakness, and she hated it. ?? Since this is a woman who has been doing crossword puzzles religiously for decades, I naturally thought she just had that clever brain for whom nothing is a challenge, and for whom everything comes easily. Guess not. Immediately, it put a spin on things: my mother had stepped out of her comfort zone when she’d gone back to school. It might not have been so much about keeping busy or contributing income as it had been about her keeping – or creating – her own identity. Her sanity, her sense of self. Another piece of the puzzle was revealed, and things made more sense.

Marrying a mildly famous person has its downside. Like my mother, I too had a partner who was well known. Much more often I was identified by him, very seldom was it the reverse. In the beginning of our relationship this was a point of stress, and it was something we talked about, and worked on. Thankfully there then came a good long stretch of time when I myself found success of my own, and in my own niche subculture had become modestly famous as well. I was busy, and creatively satisfied. It was only after I discovered my own life that I was able to enjoy, shame-free, a life alongside a famous person. But truthfully, a voice nagged at me towards the second half of our relationship: “What are you here for, and how can you possibly ever find out if you’re living with this person? Your life as a couple is all about him; are you sure you’re ok with that?” There was so much more at play than simply being partnered with a famous person. There were my insecurities, yes, but beyond that there was a person on the other side of the equation who was slowly morphing over the years into a textbook-perfect narcissist. I know he wasn’t like this in the beginning; no, we were both very naive, young things back then. Trying situations had yet to bear on our simple lives. I personally believe that his own highly dysfunctional upbringing plus the stressors of life had a cumulative effect on my ex, gradually nurturing the lion within until he became the strange, self-serving creature he is today. At present he is a mix of things; while I can no longer recognize (even as I could a year ago) any human tenderness in his eyes (his son also notices the creepy transformation when his father is here with us) I do know that he is a loving father, and that somewhere in that self-serving, self-justifying persona of his, there is a misunderstood boy who wishes only for love, comfort and sincere recognition. And these are things I could not have known before. And it helps tremendously. But it didn’t come to me overnight; it’s taken time and lots of introspection to arrive at this place.

Last night, as Elihu and I played Scrabble, we chatted about many things over our game, so when he paused and said “I don’t really get it”, I wasn’t sure what he’d meant. On Thanksgiving we’d watched videos of his father and me, from preparations for the wedding through the wedding itself (this was our only footage of dad) and then to his birth and first adorable months as a baby. Elihu had never seen his mother and father together – as we had been for over two decades –  as a couple. There was much laughter, and an ease about us that no longer existed in any way. Turns out the videos were on his mind. “He was just all about you. You guys were so happy and showed each other so much love. I don’t get how it changed.” “Well,” I thought aloud, “I guess my ‘negative Nancy’ stuff helped. I mean, I was a lot more like grandma than I’d realized. A lot of the time I felt like we lived his life more than mine – or ours – and I guess it made me upset. So I was mean sometimes. Looking back, I guess it probably helped change things. It wasn’t the only reason, but it was one of them, I suppose.” We talked a bit more about it, and Elihu came to some new understanding which seemed to help. The conversation ended while the Scrabble game continued on. (Yes, he won.)

Elihu recently asked me what makes kids in their twenties so much more ‘grown up’ than the high school kids. He saw them all as physically grown, savvy, smart and funny. How was it that they high schoolers were still considered ‘kids‘? Immediately, I recalled the chicken curry effect. Some nights I’ll whip up a batch of his Grandpa Riaz’s chicken curry, and while I follow all the directions just so, it won’t taste quite right. But the next night? Dead on. Delicious. One can’t help but notice the difference. What the curry needed was time to settle, time for the ingredients to become integrated. Yes, all the right ingredients were already there with the high school kids – they had lots of information on board, and as Waldorf kids, they had lots of world experiences too – but what they didn’t have under their belts yet was time. And there is no substitute for the deeper advancements that come with the simple passing of time. It becomes a subtle form of contemplation in and of itself. I always tell my students that the time in between practice sessions is just as important as the practice itself. Some magical, internal process takes place that brings the pieces together. Glad of it too, there’s so much information in life to assimilate; emotional, factual and otherwise. Happy to know some of it takes care of itself. !

Three years ago, when I first started writing, I had said that I knew things were ok, in spite of my bad situation (see the post “Snowflakes”.) That I knew there was a silver lining somewhere in the middle of the whole mess. That things, although they didn’t appear so on the outside, were poised for an improved future. Thing is, while I was writing what I knew to be true, I did not yet feel it. It’s almost as if I was self-coaching in front of an audience, that I might soon come to believe in my heart what I knew to be true in my brain. I hesitated to publish it too, because I knew damn well that I was not feeling as optimistic as I’d sounded. Just the opposite, really. But something inside me knew that it would one day be true, and that I’d catch up. Quite honestly, six years after having left my Illinois home and moving here I have still not caught up. But I’m much further along. I continue to revisit my old life (maybe a bit more than some folks would think productive), trying to identify the actions that brought me here, and more importantly what created the spirit in which those actions were created. How do I ensure that I behave differently in the future? How also do I ensure that my child doesn’t pick up these emotional weaknesses himself? Thanks to the solitude I enjoy in the country, plus a combination of thinking and simply being, I have come closer to some answers.

That being said, daily I’m still combating a deep, existential fear, one which will be quieted only when I realize what it is that I do, and then find myself doing it, and one can only hope, getting paid for it as well. ! (Living with the help of state assistance, while still essential to our survival, has become a little challenging on the ego.) The Studio lurks in my mind as a dormant dream with plans that sit, waiting for the next step. I know I’ll get there, and until I do, much of my psyche is upset because the place still lingers, unresolved and waiting… Yet while The Studio sleeps through the winter and waits for my attention, I continue to heal, grow and learn. I’m still identifying aspects of my life – good and bad – as well as some issues carried over from my own parents, and coming to understand how these things manifest in my life today.

I’m still dealing with panic attacks these days too. Realizing that I went for years without any fear of them, I focus my thinking on what made that time different from today. How was I able to live panic-free? I believe it was thanks to a clearer sense of meaning and purpose. I know I’m a very good mother, but at the end of the day, that alone is not the answer. Sometimes I wish it was enough just to be a great parent, but important as that is, it’s not. I still need my own thing, too. Something that satisfies – and also pays. Yes, I do have ‘things’, but none of them is panning out as I’d like: I’m a musician, but I don’t play much anymore. A teacher, but too few students to make it a real job. I’m a writer, yes, with enough material for a book or two – but I don’t write for hire, I write for me (don’t get me wrong – I’d gladly write for hire, I just don’t know how to begin that pursuit). I’m a chicken farmer too, I suppose, but egg sales only cover my costs if I’m lucky. I spend my time doing many things, but at the end of the day I probably do more thinking than anything else. If only there were a name for such a thing… Oh but hang on, just maybe there is… Do you suppose there are any job opportunities out there for a ruminatrix? Or maybe… a Ms. Ruminatrix?

Well, at least it’s something to think about…

 

Dream Tears May 10, 2013

Guess I’m still workin it out. Every now and again I’ll wake up in the night, racked with sobbing. It’s the physicality of it that wakes me, and I always stop and spend a few minutes trying to piece together the events of the dream that led up to it. In the ‘beginning’, that is to say within the first few months of my ex’s news, I’d find myself waking in tears several times a week. In the years that followed, it only happened every other month or so. This past year it’s happened only a handful of times, so even in my groggy state I was rather surprised at it. Even more surprised to remember the situation surrounding it. Last night was a brand new theme; usually it was me begging him not to go, or being surprised once again at his news, but this time it was quite the opposite; I had just told Fareed I couldn’t marry him. Everything was in place for our ‘second’ marriage; somehow he’d left the anonymous other woman he’d been with, somehow things were all set to begin again. His uncle had even come to my house to discuss some plans… But I couldn’t. I remember it being the hardest decision I had ever made. In some ways I could think of no greater relief than to be reunited with this person with whom I’d shared so many years of my life. His company was agreeable, he was an intelligent person, we shared a common knowledge of things musical; there were a lot of reasons to make him the simple, easy answer for a life partner. But something in me knew, and finally I had the balls to face it. And in the eleventh hour, I informed him, his parents (and his uncle), that I was not going forward with the plans. This dream was long and involved, and as I lay there trying to calm my breathing, reconstructing the events of the dream, I surprised myself at the number of details I was able to recall. Fascinating. I had been the one to end things this time, not him. Guess deep down I needed to reclaim the power I must have felt I lost in being the partner ‘left’. The right decision, but a tough one, and it still involved enough conflict to break my heart once again.

A friend suggested on my recent birthday that I look back over my old posts so that I might fully appreciate where I am today. Sometimes – most times, I think – distance from life events is required to formulate perspective on what’s happened. Understanding and insight cannot be rushed, they are organic and need to grow and evolve before their ultimate lesson can be recognized. My friend’s idea was a good and fitting one for such a landmark birthday, and it reminded me of an experience I had back in the beginning of this blog regarding perspective… I recall writing the very first post here, entitled “Snowflakes”, and in it saying something about knowing that things had happened as they were supposed to; that my situation had actually served me well in some ways. Immediately upon writing it, it occurred to me that although I was certain it was true, it didn’t feel true yet. I wondered if I might edit it out – because honestly, my heart hadn’t caught up to the platitude. But some two and a half years later, I finally feel it. Makes me wonder how my current experiences will resonate with the me two years down the line. Funny how some things can’t be rushed. They just need to happen on their own timeline, no matter how much you wish things would hurry up and resolve themselves.

Some five years later, it comforts me to learn that my sleeping self is still tending to its healing. Woulda thought that was all history, a done deal by now. But apparently not. Guess that’s what dreams and tears are for.

 

Touchdown, Takeoff December 2, 2012

It was almost midnight when I picked my son up at the airport last Thursday. I arrived a few minutes early, so went to the observation room in hopes I might actually see his plane land. The huge glass walls mostly showed the reflection of the room itself, so I had to lean way in and raise my arm above my head to register the inky black airfield. As I looked at my reflection in the glass, superimposed against the blinking lights of the tower beyond, the strange mix of the archaic and the futuristic struck me. I was in my farm jacket, my hair hanging messily about me – an untidy figure in a clean, modernistic room of glass; the farmer come to meet the sky ship.

This time I was lucky, for as I casually turned my head to the right I saw two lights approaching at what seemed to be a breakneck speed. I couldn’t see the plane itself, but knew my son was there somewhere in the darkness between the two lights. I watched as it zoomed past, wondering how on earth something like that can possibly stop in time, and never taking my eyes off of it as it then turned and taxied briskly back towards me. As the plane came closer, I saw big, fluffy white snowflakes in its lights. My son was home safe, and it was snowing. Perfect.

As I expected, Elihu seemed taller. But more had changed than just that. No longer did he run into my arms as he had at nearly every other reunion. He stood, shy, waiting, giggling somewhat uncomfortably. Huh? I hugged him, I exclaimed how happy I was, and after thanking Dave (our friend at Southwest) we were off to baggage claim. But what’s this? Tears? Already? What the hell just happened? This: apparently I made ‘too big a deal’ of seeing him. I ‘treated him like a baby’. Oh man. Are we here already? I mean, really? I swear sometimes there’s a teenage girl lurking somewhere close to the surface… sheesh. But I try to honor his feelings, after all I remember very well that horrible kind of embarrassment that only parents can create, and it’s made worse because they keep telling you you have no reason to be embarrassed… Well, yes, you do! If a kid’s embarrassed, no matter how hormone or insecurity-induced, if it’s what the poor kid’s feeling, it’s real! So I have to respect it at the very least. I let him talk, cry, explain. Might also be the late hour, I think, but I don’t say that. Eventually, we reach a new understanding. I’m not to call out his name, run towards him, nor open my arms in hopes of a huge, public reunion. I will simply stand there, arm around him as I sign the release, maybe give him a subtle sideways squeeze and a quick kiss atop his head.

In my mind’s eye I play the scene of my adorable six year old boy squealing with delight at seeing me again. I remember his little lisp, his tiny body. Did I savor those moments? I guess I did. I can’t have regrets. I just need to switch gears, because those days are over, and we’re entering a new chapter. As we drive home through the fluffy flakes I wonder at the new stories ahead of us. This week alone there will be plenty, from lessons to chores to his first school assembly (he sings the harmony part and will likely carry his section with great pride and confidence…) and the many other unexpected events that will pop up before us. We two live a full and interesting life here, and now that we’re both refreshed from a week away from the routine, we’re ready to begin it all again…

 

Elihu’s Journal Number One March 1, 2011

Filed under: An Ongoing Journal...,Elihu's Room,Mommy Mind — wingmother @ 12:50 pm
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I’m on the playground. I look out, cars bustle and the streets look busy. I wonder what the people in those cars are thinking. Then I go. Well, I don’t know what I go to do then. After that I look around and well, there’s not much to do. I just sorta sit. And sit. Jack passes. I know he doesn’t want to play with me. He hasn’t been playing with me for the past two months. What if I were one of those kids, one of those kids that always seems to be having fun? Would I be having fun? Or would I just realize that it’s not any better to have friends? Snowflakes fall and it’s still winter. Nothing’s going to change that. And I’m still me and nobody’s going to change that. Nobody’s going to change anything. Snowflakes fall and nobody’s going to change that either. Maybe that’s the best thing about winter.

Sometimes winter can be the worst season, but yet the best. I look at the tall fences and I look back at myself, down at my legs. There wasn’t much to do except keep doing what I was doing, whatever that thing was. Soon the whistle is blown, and I slowly walk back. I get in line and now things seem to be a little better, well at least now that recess is over. There are worse times in the day, like science. You know I don’t mean to mean they’re bad, I just mean that I’d rather do different things. I’d rather be on the playground than in science. Yeah, of course I hate the playground, but the playground could have a better side if I had someone to play with. Right now it’s just sort of the place I always…. I don’t know, whatever I do.

And now it’s science time. I get out my science book and I get out my science packet and my pencil. I look at the numbers. Number one through ten. We’re starting at five. At least this packet didn’t have twenty questions, the last one did. After science it’s pack and snack time. I feel great. At least the day is over. I mean come on, this is my favorite time of the day. Who doesn’t like the time of day when you can do anything you want, you can read, you can eat your snack, you can do whatever you want.

After that the bell rings. That was the first bell. It should be the second bell. Mr. Hewitt’s probably just a little late. It doesn’t matter. Sheesh, this day has been a long day. Well, now I’m listening to the second bell and time’s going by pretty fast it seems. Soon the buses will be called. The first buses are Raccoon and Octopus. “Raccoon and Octopus” repeated Mr. Hewitt. Oh man, I can’t believe the buses are in a different order. Well, Dog bus is usually the second bus, but when they’re out of order it could be the sixth or seventh bus. I didn’t have to wait long.

I got my backpack, and I’m ready. Put my backpack on, put my chair up on my desk, and I was out of there. I walked down the long hallway. They’re filled with kids, some I know and say hi, some I don’t know. They just look at me and pass. I keep walking. I don’t mind those kids. Even the ones who say hi. I say hi back sometimes, but I’m more eager to get to my bus than to say hi. The day has been long and of course I’m eager to get onto my bus. I say hi to Mr. Taylor standing in the middle of the ramp watching the kids.

Then I go through the open door and I’m outside. It’s cold out, but I’ll only be out, well, speaking of only – it really takes me about five minutes to get to my bus.

I’m on the bus, and now starts the 45 or 50 minute drive to my house. I look out the window. What pretty forests, gardens and houses. They’re all pretty. Some of those houses aren’t really houses, they’re shacks. Serge used to say that some of those houses had ghosts in them. But I didn’t really believe that. When I was just a silly little first grader I believed it. I still sit with my backpack pressed hard against my back, making a shadow over my head. I felt sort of over my head. I sort of felt scared on the bus and that’s why I always put my backpack near me. With my personal belongings, it somehow made me feel safer from all those unknown kids and unknown star wars things, and legos and whatever they were. And so I got off. Off of the bus.

When I got home I realized that the bus was the good place. Aww. Oh. I was home. The most boring, but in a way, the most exciting time of the day.

Aah aah aah ahh. A rooster crows. I knew Bald Mountain felt happy that I was here, and I knew that Whitey felt happy that I was here, and I knew the rest of the flock was happy that I was here. But there’s one thing I didn’t know. If I was happy that I was here. We drove down the long driveway and we got in the house. Ah, felt good to be in the house. I layed down on the couch and looked at all my presents. Aahhh. I felt tired, and happy and I felt like it was time to relaxamate. The tree looked dry. It’s branches had curved in and fallen down and it had lost quite a few needles. But with still a few ornaments left on it, it looked pretty. Chickadee-dee Chicka-dee-dee. Chickadees rang out from the porch, and lots of them too. I looked around, lifted up the shade and sure enough there were two Chickadees trapped in the porch. Wait! That second one wasn’t a Chickadee, it was three times as big as a Chickadee, had a crest, and a black mask. It flew around in the porch and over time let our an ear piercing “jay jay jay”. I knew in an instant it must be a Blue Jay so I ran and got the net, but when I got in the porch he was out, sitting in the Butterfly bush and scolding. “Jay jay jay” he yelled at me and flew away. Now all that was left was the Chickadee. “Chicka dee dee” he said to me as he turned his head around to look at me. Then he jumped off the screen and a blurry figure flew away. It was now getting dark, the sky was getting gray. I checked out my presents, I had a lot of cool ones I realized, cooler than I thought.

After that, there’s not much to do except take all the ornaments off the tree, take the lights off and take the bins downstairs. And that we did. I looked at my bed. I looked back at Mommy. I didn’t want to go to bed. The snow sparkled and made the whole backyard look so beautiful. Looked out my bedroom window again, now I saw crows. They flew away. Now I knew for sure it was time to go to  bed. I looked at my pajamas, they were layed out. She must have layed them out while I was looking at birds on the computer (which I did not include in this paragraph).

And so, since it was time to go to bed I did, I brushed my teeth. Mommy read me the rest of the Saint Francis book and then within fifteen minutes (well I really couldn’t tell) I was asleep.