Choked

I walked to work

with a wet scarf

choked

taut

pulled

from both

side

dampness

in two directions

moisture

most of it rain

but

little

least of it

was tears

More of it was snot

I’m sure

That’s what parenting is

Some days

Rain

Tears

Snot

If you’re lucky

you also get

a shower

a different sort of wet

a smile

and a hug at

the end of the night

uncloaked

unchoked

dry

Safety

Some parents use their kids as an excuse. Gets them out of work dinners, their own dental visits or unenthusiastic sex. The young creatures are marvelous scapegoats for these tasks. I know. I’ve done it all.

I’m afraid I’ve knit my child into my own safety net.

Didn’t chase the career I wanted?

It’s okay. I had a kid.

Tanked relationships?

It’s okay. I had a kid.

Another rejection letter for a writing piece?

It’s okay. I had a kid.

Except it’s not always okay.

My son is my life. And I don’t know if that’s always a good thing.

Some parents do incredible work with child raising as their primary focus. My mother was one of these parents. It’s still mind-boggling to me, remembering and watching to this day the sacrifice and giving she extending to caregiving.

I’m far more selfish.

Or maybe not.

There are many things about this life that aren’t enough for me. I want to swing and fly and walk the right rope. And I do it all with a net, just in case.

I don’t think that makes any more or less. Parents who strictly parent are awe-inspiring. Parents who run companies and are in love and volunteer to feed sick kittens are equally miraculous.

Me? I don’t fit in either box. I’m the one flat on her back, bouncing on a stretch of ropes and knots, still reeling from my most recent fall.

I hope there’s still time to get back up on the high wire again.

What I Didn’t

What I Didn’t

Learn to spell believer

Change to os to as for feminine

Include Ferdinand with Isabella
but that may have been intentional

That’s what I didn’t do in fifth grade today

Didn’t distinguish capability from intention
work from talent
strength from indulgence

He sees what I didn’t
make dinner
wash my hair
clean the crumbs

What’s the worse didn’t
That I didn’t

He can learn
because he watches
what I didn’t
and see his same
didn’t

And then he does
Lie in bed with a book
That others think
Is meant for another

Didn’t like I didn’t

He senses my shaking
and knows when I’m crying
even though
I like to pretend bathroom walls
are thicker than they are

Didn’t stop like I didn’t

He doesn’t want my reminders
but it’s my fault
when I don’t give them

Didn’t stand up because I didn’t

I watch him parent
what I didn’t
I try to take the blame
that he shouldn’t

I didn’t enough

I hope he knows it was my didn’t

Not his

His Trains

Two bedrooms.
Three babies.
Where does he sleep?

You have your dreams
wrapped and tied
with felled timber
and he’s left
to be your alarm clock.

To be the stark reality,
the cold winter floor,
the frosted window
in your cottage escape.

What you wanted,
then left,
now he’s left
to sure up
the beams
while you build
to the sky.

His trains
carry
your blueprints,
and the sledgehammer
that knocks down
his insulation;
transport an awkward visitor
to your family gathering.

I watch
and
I wave.
I hope he
survives the trip
and wishing on rails,

I dread
his crash.

A Fortress

Him: Mom, let me get under your blanket. I’m cold.

Me: It is no degrees outside. Put on some pants. 

Him: (Crawls under the blanket with me, rubbing clammy feet on mine)

Me: (Aw. And ew.)

Him: Pants are uncomfortable and I don’t like wearing them. 

Me: (Endlessly hugs the now-warm, still pantless child, who is clearly mine, and who tolerates the affection for one more second before he scampers back to his fort because sometimes too much mommy is too much. 

And we had a day in the fort with snuck-in food amongst the many pillows and too much TV. 

It was a glow of heat in the dark cold. 

And I remembered how much brightness there is. 

Repealing

 

 

I had every intention to handle this like a warrior.

A paint-covered, ladder-climbing, putty-knife-wielding warrior.

That’s not exactly how it all went.

 

After

Yes. That’s the after. I couldn’t do any more.

It looks like a preschool class painting their first flat for a school play.

But it was the best I could do. Multiple trips to fetch supplies I couldn’t afford. Almost as many panic flushes. I was done.

My best is not much. Obviously. I can write you a poem about patching a ceiling but I can’t do it in practice.

Was this mess at least better than when I started?

 

Before

Maybe.

I don’t know anymore.

The biggest hurdle was that I was going to handle this myself. And by handle, I meant just getting on with it. Not whining and whinging and lambasting my self-worth with the same enthusiasm that I used when wielding the blade of a paint scraper and the sanding block.

That hurdle, I instead smacked and took down with me as I tumbled to the ground. I sent endless texts begging for encouragement. To the point where I was disgusting myself, so I can’t image how pissed the receiver of my depressing messages must have been. I was so furious at myself that I didn’t know how to do this, how to fixed this, that I failed at something else. I

I do this every time. Every time. No matter what bobble or hardship or uncalm sea I encounter. Every little thing. Every time.  And this wasn’t even a crisis. When I came home to find this, now that was a crisis.

(For texture and amplification, it was -2 degrees Fahrenheit at the time outside the house.)

Did I handle both of these problems?

Sort of.

The heat now works and there’s not as much of a crater situation on the ceiling.

Did I beat myself up about my complete buggering of these projects?

Maybe.

Did I deserve that?

No comment.

Did I then beat myself up about my weight and my complete lack of musical or artists talent and my shit parenting job and…

Fine. You bet your sweet ass I did. Gave myself a proper run down.

I really need to stop this. It helps no one. It makes me feel worse and by doing it again, and again, and fucking again, I will push away the precious few that are willing to support me when I have legitimate crises, not just a few floating flakes of glossy enamel.

If I can kinda fix paint and more or less manage a broken furnace, why can’t I give myself a break?

That should be the easy part. Just taking away the labor I swing day in and day out that effectively chips mw down to a rubbled pile of nothing.

Even if I have nothing good to replace the absence.

A  wrong act continually enforced to the detriment of all is worth the struggle to repeal it.

The floor is open to motions.

Floor…

Floor…does that look like a hole in my floor???

Let Down

Today, I let my kid be disappointed. 

I could have swooped in and saved him, been a sidekick, been a day-saver. 

But I didn’t. 

There was a school thing today. There are always school things. Today was one of many. 

Last night we planned. We packed the bag. We stuffed the envelopes. We were ready. 

And then this morning, he forgot. 

I tried to text him. He didn’t answer. I tried to FaceTime him. He didn’t answer. Why do I buy expensive tech that we don’t ever answer????

He went to school without. And I let him. 

Avalanche of guilt. Big, sharp, pointy, heavy boulders of it. Everywhere. 

I wasn’t there for him this morning. In my heart, I felt I let him down. 

Last night, I was at rehearsal for a show I’m excited about. I get excited about Shakespeare and that’s awesome. 

But, if I’m at rehearsal, my kiddo is with his dad. At their house. Because I couldn’t make that work. 

Now, I’m a lousy mom and a lousy partner and my kid is the only one in his class today without the things and ye gods these boulders of guilt are CRUSHING me and where’s a Shakespearean witch with a vanishing spell when you need one!!!

Stop. Move the boulder. Breathe. 

This is a nothing. In two years my kid won’t remember this. Other things are bigger. Maybe he’ll remember his class election not going the way he wanted. Maybe that was a big deal. We’re not there yet. 

I don’t want him to have my anxiety and hang ups. As a adult, I want him to take things seriously when they matter. I also want him to brush off the nonsense that causes ulcers but in reality doesn’t mean shit. 

So, I let him be disappointed. But I didn’t let him down. 

I’ll be under these boulders trying to remember that.