Then it dawns on me. What do I say when he suggests an activity? "Oh, that's a good idea, but..." "We could, but here's the thing..." "We're going to do something else right now. You know the plan." How often do I jump up joyfully and say "Yes, LET'S!" Well... never.
[a note here--it is awkward to keep writing "my oldest son" and "my toddler", but I can't bring myself to use their names and violate their privacy. That's not really my choice to make. So henceforth I will call my baby "Anainn" (Uh-NON), the name he would have if I ruled the universe. And though it's tempting to then call my 5-year-old "Amos" I will with difficulty restrain myself and call him "Xir", the name he briefly bore and would still bear if humans were monoecious.]
So now the boys are with their father---getting their weekly dose of his own special brand of crazy---and I have a guilt-laced reprieve. Knowing something needs to change. Knowing that if we are to make this little house a happy home, I will need to find some last hidden reserve of power and turn things around. How do I plan to do this? With SCHEDULES! Yippee! You know, get up at 5, face the rising sun, ask for strength, then proceed to do craft projects and reading lessons and community service and playdates and chores and language exercises and wilderness survival games. And I hope, deeply and fervently, that I will find some co-conspirators in my new neighbors, what with summer coming and all.
Also, much as I love this little house and the new life we are building as a family, I need to acknowledge that I would like more in my life. More what? More...LIFE. Traveling. Friendship and dinner parties and plays. A willingness to grow up and move beyond this self-imposed poverty mentality, to shake off whatever it was that sent me into that particular 8-year eddy and find a place of strength, comfort, and joy. To agree that I deserve a real home of my own, a home I can make lovely and welcoming and warm, a home to build memories in, a home the boys can look back on and say "what a wonderful place that was to grow up."
But there I go, I'm doing it again. I am their home now. I am primarily responsible for creating their memories, and the quality of those memories has nothing to do with the beams and plaster that surround them. Well, very little anyway.
Biking home today I paused to harvest some cattails from Ballonna Creek. The new heads aren't ready yet---soon their pollen will be ready to gather for sprinkling on pancakes and in juice---but there was an abundance of last year's heads, and I need the down to stuff pillows. There was an egret fishing very solemnly nearby, and an abundance of coots. The water was flowing east; I guess the tide was in. Just snapping the heavy stalks in my hand, watching the seeds take off in the wind like living things, brought me firmly back into place. Making things matters. If I do not forget that---though I always do---I will be all right.
She has gone out from among you.
Her voice has dwindled. She has crossed.
She has set her face against you.
Turn the tide, and one more turning.
She is lost.
Hang the heavy-headed barley.
Hang the golden sheaves of grain.
The aspen quakes to keep from breaking.
Their hands are shaking.
She'll not speak again.
Mend your nets, and fish the quiet waters.
Mind your words, and draw your friends close in.
She has gone out from among you.
Weave each prayer. Let every spindle spin.
Once there was a silver ocean.
Once there was a golden bird.
She has gone, and gone out from among you.
Turn the tide, and turn again.
She'll not return.