this just one … is hard.
i believe myself to be incredibly compassionate and mostly kind … except (gulp!) when it comes to the people i love most — my sweet little, tight-knit family unit. intensely ashamed to admit it, but it’s true. and it makes no sense, i know. i mean, if these are the people i love and cherish and trust more than anyone on the planet, then shouldn’t the opposite come more naturally. shouldn’t i want to shower them always, save for a few bad moments, with compassion and kindness? shouldn’t i? why don’t i?
my greatest fear is that the pissy, cranky, less-than-charming woman i sometimes become around here is the real me. the authentic me. and that’s why she rears her ugly head so often in the place i feel safest and most loved. god no! and i know it’s not true. that it’s something more complicated. that the makings of family relationships do the damnedest things to us, often bringing out the best and worst. this is one of those horrifying and ingrained behavior changes i feel like i’ll be working on for a lifetime.
of course, the urge to make this change has amped up considerably now that one of my kids has a similar, shall we call it, emotional defense mechanism. so often, he will react unkindly, inconsiderately, and downright mean rather than let his guard down and be vulnerable and free with us. as far as i can tell, this isn’t a problem outside the house, but here it’s a problem. just like it is for me.
i just keep thinking — maybe if i walked the walk of kindness more often, then it would help us both, you know? i’m so sick about it that i’m actually considering hanging sticky notes all over the house that just say “be kind.” like in every room. reminders! is that insane? i’m not sure if it’s more insane that i need reminders to be kind in my own house or that i think sticky notes may solve my problem. shit.
this is the first summer i have been able to let them go. oh, they’ve been swimming, in lessons and otherwise, for years, but letting them go has always sent me into an almost anxiety attack. the paranoia started after clyde, then about three and a half, had “the incident” while i was pregnant with leo. he jumped in the pool right after his older cousin, and i had NO IDEA he would even think to do something like that. always a cautious kid, one we joke could not even open a door until he was at least four years old, it hadn’t even occurred to me to worry about him jumping right in when we headed out back to swim. of course, we were all right there, but it took several long seconds for my brain to register that it was clyde sinking beneath the water. i bloodied both my knees getting down to pull him out.
now they both seem so free in the water. or maybe it’s me who’s finally free. to let them. always cautious but letting them go and learn and be. and it feels so good. like summer should.
dug up this poem i wrote when the boys were small; makes me wistful and weepy for my babies:
I use the end of my pen to push
Your brother’s baby hair to the side
In his stroller, he wriggles, turns left,
then right, hates sitting still
So much older now, you are swimming
in a big, big soft blue pool
Long torso, hair covering your brown eyes
That still rise to mine across the water
Bare, wet feet pitter past
Like the moments of your youth
Running away from me
Your brother can suddenly
Hold and tip his bottle
“Dada!” he belts and you plunge
once again into the water.
having the best summer. some shots from camp.
the days were shorts and tshirts and ice cream and hikes and swings and friends and freedom. the nights were campfires and s’mores and singing. bedtime (my favorite) was cozy all tucked in our tiny cabin together. our uneven breathing, the open windows, the closeness in the middle of the forest until the birds woke us up again at dawn.
i’ve been dragging C out here to chase birds for so long, and he doesn’t even seem to mind it. on this night, it was blackbirds, cranky lady night herons, egrets, marsh wrens, grackles, and bullfrogs.
they still blow my mind over and over and every day.
we had our first fake spring. it was lovely.