Waltz In Exile

8 August 2008, 12:29 pm
Filed under: Family, P2 | Tags: ,

The last time my Mom went to Italy, she brought me back a beautiful bracelet of hand-painted glass beads from the straw market in Venice (actually, she brought a lot of them back and my sisters and aunts each got one, too, but it still made me feel special, and this is MY blog, so we’re talking about ME, dammit.) The hardware was the simple (and not too sturdy) kind used by a lot of craftspeople (not that I know that firsthand. Crafty, I am not. [Well, actually, I AM sorta crafty. But not craftsy. That’s what I mean.] ANYway –)

Mom died soon after that trip, and I, well, I went a little nutso for a while (those of you who were there and totally understand what I’m talking about here should know something: I am grateful EVERY DAY for the fact that you are still in my life, but I do NOT understand how or why. [PA, this includes you, too.] Definitely not my finest hours weeks months.)

One of my least destructive behaviors during those months was an obsession with that bracelet; I refused to take it off. I’d be in my office, pretending to work, and probably IM-ing with some of you who are reading this (seriously, it blows my mind that you guys stuck around. Talk about anchors…) and the beads would catch my eye, and I’d have to touch every single one of them, moving the bracelet slowly around my wrist. And I would chant to myself (not out loud. Didn’t need the officemates thinking I was any crazier than they already did.) I just whispered (or maybe it was prayer): “It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay.” until I got all the way around the circle of beads. I’m not Catholic, but I can appreciate the soothing (or maybe I mean numbing?) power of rituals; that bracelet was my own private (damn, now I feel like I should be typing “Idaho” next) rosary.

One morning, while I was getting ready for work, drying my hair, the bracelet caught on the sleeve of my shirt. Beads went flying everywhere. It looked like a giant spray of confetti and I took it personally; that sense of celebration mocked me and I just got SO. ANGRY. I think I came closer then to having a total breakdown than at any other point that year. I never made it to work that day. Eventually, I got up off the bathroom floor and gathered up the beads and a fragment of still-threaded bracelet and put it all in a glass jar we had on the counter.

Eight years, five houses, two kids and two states later, Goat #1 found that jar in the office, and poured out the contents. I didn’t notice until he was out of bed for the kajillionth time, on Wednesday night, when he stood next to me in the office relating the kajillionth reason he NEEDED to be up. He was twirling something around and around in the air in that fidgety way kids do when you ask them a question and they’re improvising? I was getting impatient for a decent answer to the “why are you out of bed again” question (although at this point, I’m not even sure I’d have accepted “because it’s on fire, Mommy” as a good enough reason) when I realized he was swinging the still-threaded fragment of my bracelet. And I completely lost. my. shit.

The bracelet was just the catalyst. I know that. I knew that even then. But all it took, after being calm and firm about sending him back to bed for two freaking hours (anyone else interested in how long it would take my kid to reduce SuperNanny to a whimpering Brit?) was a hair-trigger. I miss my Mom every day. And sometimes, when it’s been a really long day, and all the evidence points to the fact that I could obviously use some help with the wild goats I’m raising, because I’m in over my head, it takes all of my willpower not to allow myself to wallow and wish I could call “Nana” and say “What the hell do I do now?” So my willfully disobedient son, standing there flinging about what’s left of my last present from my Mom like it has no more value than a Happy Meal toy, set me off. I yelled. (Actually, it had the timbre and volume of a jungle cat. Who knew Goat Mamas could roar?)

“What do you think you’re doing? Put that DOWN! That doesn’t belong to you! You’re supposed to be in bed! I am VERY TIRED of telling you to STAY. IN. BED. Now GO!”

Yep. Yet another for my collection of not-finest moments. Mother of the Year will elude me again, I’m sure. So now, on top of tired and frustrated and missing Mom, I had more proof just how much I still need her, because I obviously SUCK at this parenting thing.

Yesterday, I came home to find this on my desk in the office:

Another letter from Goat #1

Another letter from Goat #1

I couldn’t believe I’d been so out of control that he thought I blamed him for breaking my “nechlace.” Apparently, I don’t need to be Mother of the Year to have Boy of the Year. I picked it up, and went to find my boy, so I could grab him, and hold him tight, and tell him “It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay.”


12 Comments so far
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I diligently read your blog and have smiled, laughed, grinned, and always empathized with you. But the tears came instantly and furiously with the last sentence of this one. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, with children will instantly recall that one time (well, there are many times for most of us, but that big one always stands out) where they’d give anything for that ability to erase little patches of memory like Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones did in Men in Black. To continue with the analogy….that time where an alien inhabited your body and you lost. your. shit. Here’s mine…for the millionth time, my goat is taking FOREVER to get out of the house en route to daycare. Utterly not grasping the concept of being late (of course how can you at 4-years-old??), and I’m fairly certain, even TRYING to dawdle. Repeated attempts to hurry her along continue to fail and as she begins to whine about what pair of shoes to wear (thank god for uniforms in Kindergarten!), I raise my voice to a near yell, no, a real yell, and say “Mama is going to be so so late that she will get fired, lose her job, and we will have no money for food or clothes!!! Now go, go, go!!” A terrified goat looks up at me and hurries to the door, shoes in hand. In the car, she quietly says, “I’m sorry I might make you lose your job. We can sell some of my clothes and toys if that will help.” And for the nail in the coffin… I am my own boss, report to no one, and other than my brother (who is my business partner), no one would have any idea I was “late” to work.

Comment by Dayna

If this isn’t you Mother speaking to you through Ike, teaching you what to do, and what not to do, next, then what is?

Comment by Bronson

You are an incredible writer, I am sure an even more incredible mother, and a wonderful daughter.
You keep those memories close to your heart. Maybe make a few smaller items out of the beads and spread the love???

Comment by Mandy Smith

Dayna – You and your beautiful brilliant daughter are amazing. If I can manage half the job you’re doing raising her, my kids will be lucky.

Bronson – Thank you. I forgot to recognize it for the bigger sign it was.

Mandy – Thank you….and thanks for the idea for the beads, too. There’s a great little store here that does that craftsy thing with tons of beads; maybe Ike and I will check it out this weekend.

I can’t thank you guys enough for your support (now I sound like a Bartles & Jaymes ad. Nice.)

Comment by waltzinexile

The last line made me burst out in tears, too. I have been so irritable and impatient with my children today as I have a big event I’m coordinating for tomorrow that I’ve been stressfully working on all day. I have been so short-fused with them and after reading this, I will take them both in my arms and apologize for letting the inconsequential get in the way of the moments that could have been spent so much more appropriately today.

Thank you for the reminder to cherish every minute, and to take every opportunity to “choose love” instead of the things that eventually fade into oblivion. Each day is a gift, and we never know how long we’ll have the gift and these times with our kids (or our parents, or our spouses).

I’m so sorry for the loss of your mom, and also so sorry that we had lost touch and that I wasn’t there for you during that time. I can only imagine how much you miss her, and haven’t we all developed so much more respect and admiration for our mothers as we have become mothers ourselves?

I like Mandy’s bead idea, you could make key chains or a pendant or something with them, or maybe you could re-thread them back into a bracelet?

Thanks for sharing your heart. You really should write a book. I could read your stuff all day long!

Comment by Caryn

Okay, I didn’t mean to make any of you cry…
And Caryn, you don’t ever need to apologize for “not being there.” You’ve always been there. You’re one of the only ones who made it through 8th grade still talking to me, so you get big fat extra credit for that, anyway.
I think you and Mandy and all your craftsy ideas need to come visit me, BTW. This is way outside my sphere (unless maybe I could make a memorial database out of the beads…..)

Comment by waltzinexile

OMg the tears came just now and I have a feeling they won’t stop anytime soon. You have NO idea how much I can relate, in a weird way.

Sunday marks 18 years since I lost my two year old son, and I have “touch points” with certain objects that were his, and at one point years ago, one of my twins spilled orange juice all over the lone little sneaker that sits on my desk. I completely stripped my gears and I think, in the process scared my kids senseless. It was silly. But that little shoe that once held his small foot was somehow still connected. I would, and still do, touch it each day, and I tie and untie those laces, several times throughout the day.

Your post today touched me deeply.

Now I must go and find a bath towel to clear the tears off the keyboard before I short it out.

Comment by Auds

Auds – I’ll make you a deal. I won’t think that’s weird if you don’t think it’s weird that YOU just made ME cry. I’m so sorry for your loss and I will think of you on Sunday. But for the love of God, get a towel, because if you short out your keyboard and don’t post this weekend, who will make me laugh?

Comment by waltzinexile

I share Bronson’s thought — he just beat me to it. I also share Dayna’s that we all lose our shit as parents; although, for most of us, on occasions far less significant than yours (i.e. there was just a pause in my typing as I followed the silence of my son into the bathroom where he was sitting on the floor squirting hand soap all over himsef). Anyway, I’m pretty sure it even happened to your Mom (hello — she had 5 kids!). Look at the bright side, intended consequence or not, Goat #1 will probably think twice the next time he goes for something that doesn’t belong to him. And perhaps even warn his sister, “I wouldn’t do that — Mom will FREAK OUT!”. 🙂

Comment by Stacy

Stacy – Thank you for reminding me (again LOL) — I do know that other people do this, too, but somehow, when it happens, it doesn’t register that way. I genuinely feel like I’m making a giant mess of my poor kids.
God help Goat #2 if Goat #1 gets any more bossy because of this, too, LOL

Comment by waltzinexile

I can’t imagine losing my mother, or father for that matter. While it is not nice to lose it and blow up at a kid I think that perhaps it is a lesson in and of itself that parents are human and what you do or say after will potentially make the bigger impact. It is obvious you love your goat children and work hard to do the best you can with them and in the end that is what matters =).

Thank you for saying so; I really hope you’re right. In a family full of stubborn goats, sometimes it feels like I am doing too much headbutting and not enough deep breathing, but we all always remember to say “I love you” when we do talk calmly again.

Comment by Karen

[…] N/A-Bling In which I bare quite a bit of my soul (this is probably my favorite.) I know I’m supposed to throw “I’m not afraid of you running away” in here somewhere, but really, I am. Be nice. […]

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