Monday, June 16, 2008

we all live in a yellow submarine

She ruined the hike, there are no two ways about it. She started complaining almost immediately, and we cajole and then talk sternly and there is nothing, not a thing that will change her mind. We are a few miles out and it's getting worse and she's been carried almost the whole way. I feel it, the shit's going to hit the fan.

J loses it first. That's it, he says. We aren't going to the show later. A plan we'd had all week for today, a hike and then later, a show. I turn to him, silent and glaring. I really wanted to have the day we planned. M starts to wail, big fat tears in the middle of nature, she's drowning out the birds and we've got nowhere to run. J puts her on his shoulders, steam rising from his ears. We start to argue. It's all my fault and it's all his fault and it's all her fault and we fall silent, the hike is ruined. I feel the tears welling up, senseless tears and yet they are there anyways. I really wanted to have the day we planned but what's done is done. I am also twelve years old.

The drive home is long and silent and when we get home we go to three corners, M plays quietly because no one feels like entertaining her. I am lying on the couch thirty minutes later when she walks up to me and holds out a tower of legos. Mama, I made you a lighthouse. I didn't even know she knew that word. We embrace and talk a bit about how frustrated I felt and how lame that hike was because of how she acted. I hear J stir in the other room, he comes around the corner. Maybe we can still go, if we talk about it maybe we can still go. He's caving now and he knows it and I know it and there are costs to the caving and yet I am happy to join him. We three sit on the floor together, we each say what we need to and we hope it sinks in. I look at J. It's this, I say. This is what a family means, it means we find our way back to center each and every time. He looks at me and smiles. M, he says, this is our first time as parents, we don't always know what we are doing and we are trying really hard to do the right thing. But it's all of us together who needs to be a team. She throws her arms around us and goes running through the house. You guys gave up! And we look at each other over her head what are you going to say to that he says and I don't know but I am laughing, because in a way she's right and in a way she's wrong and we go to the show just the same.

And later we sit in the darkened theater, the three of us in a row and I watch her face, enthralled at the screen and she looks absolutely beautiful. I look up and I see J looking at her too. Our eyes meet over her head and we smile. It's this, I say again, out loud and to myself. It's this.


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36 comments:

ewe are here said...

We've started out days like that ... everything planned looks like it's going to fall by the wayside ... often bothers me more than anyone ... but then, we find our way.

I'm glad you found yours. Together. As a family.

QT said...

That M....I love this post.

Karen said...

thank you - we've had many things big and smalled ruined -just as you say, sometimes you can't dance around that fact - but you inspire me - finding that center is worth the effort it takes.

mamatulip said...

I love this, Jen.

furiousBall said...

definitely have days like this once in a while. the recovery, like you did here, is what being a patient parent is all about.

Omaha Mama said...

It is this. And it's beautiful.
As parents, we (the Hubs and I) are usually bumbling idiots. But we still try really hard, every day. It's that. And it matters.
Great post!

Jennifer said...

You know when there are words so simple so true and so sincere and written so beautifully that the very words make that place in your heart just ache?

It's this.

All of it.

cce said...

Sometimes make-up and compromise are just as important lessons as consequence and punishment. And I do love the way people look in the light of the big screen, the glow of the cinema makes a face sooo beautiful.

bgirl said...

thank you, really, i can't tell you how your experiences map to my own. a good reminder of what it means to be a family, an authentic one. and that moments are just that, moments.

one day the whining will pass...at least that's what i keep telling myself. of course these days we waver between whining and bossing!

crazymumma said...

Here's the part where I get all peachy on your ass. Well not really, but ahem...with all my years of 'xperience and all that...

I like thinking of it as remaining flexible. Going with the chaos and the smallness they throw into our lives. It makes me crazy and sometimes some alien 1950's disciplinarian wants to take me over. But for the most part, when they are very small, being bendable is a good thing. Cause sometimes don't you think it is nice for them to have the power? To watch us 'give up'?

I am wondering what show you watched.

crazymumma said...

I um. meant preachy. not peachy.

hele said...

Flo and I laughed and laughed. We had a fighting experience in the middle of the road while walking the puppy. Which your post sort of reminded us of.

And then later when we finally allowed the puppy on the bed (for just a second) he immediately curled up with a you guys gave up look on his little face. I swear he did.

patches said...

You could spend hours discussing family dynamics, but it wouldn't cover things as well as this singular post.

carrie said...

Absolutely! All any of us can ever do is try - and be honest - and find our ways back to that center that binds us.

Family.

Amy Y said...

I think sometimes it's Ok to cave. Hell, that's life ~ sometimes they cave and sometimes they don't. What matters is that you're having fun along the way. :)

marymurtz said...

Oh, she's a keeper, that M.

Bon said...

oh, she made me giggle with her "you gave up!"

i would have too. i think you're quite right, about family. and oh, sometimes it is so hard not to be twelve.

slouching mom said...

ah, so yes. your comment on my post makes perfect sense. today, i, too, was twelve. or six. i am learning. we are all just learning.

painted maypole said...

very sweet.

and "you guys gave up" - hysterical!

Aliki2006 said...

This was perfectly put. We have so many days like that, and sometimes we struggle so much to find the center again. But you're right--that's what it is all about.

Christine said...

for what it's worth, we had a very similar scene at a strawberry patch that morning.

later there were hugs and apologies an love all around.

being a family is hard--we're all just muddling through.

looks to me like you guys are doing a wonderful job.

xoxo

Lucia said...

Such a beautiful post that I am left nearly speechless.

Family Adventure said...

You just described my parenting imperfections perfectly. Thanks, jen. I don't know how you do it, but I love you for it.

Heidi

meno said...

Damn, you are good, you are really good.

Hetha said...

dude you need to stop making me cry!

kristen said...

i don't know how i missed all these posts, somehow my bloglines weren't updating you!

this is so very lovely honey. i related very much as we are a small family of three.

Mad said...

That Crazy, she's a peach...and wise.

Kyla said...

It's just like that, isn't it?

Sorry I haven't been around. My bloglines hasn't been alerting me. I hopped over today thinking, "My, she has been quiet lately." and I found out you haven't been quiet at all, I've just been missing it!

Susanne said...

Yeah, that's it. We fall apart, and then together, and then apart, and together again.

Sometimes I wish that it hadn't be this way. But, well, it's good too.

Janet said...

Negotiate, give up; it's all about embracing the flexibility to change the course of a crappy day. You did it with grace.

Maggie said...

Brilliant.

Anjali said...

I love it when giving in feels so damn good.

kgirl said...

Yup, that's exactly it. The problem (and the wonderful part) is that the day is always for all of us, so yes, we are a family of 'cavers.' And I think we have way more fun for it.

Binky said...

This is my favorite line: "big fat tears in the middle of nature, she's drowning out the birds"

I feel like I'm there. It helps that I HAVE been there ;)

What a wonderful piece.

lildb said...

don't I know it - you said it, word for word, you summed it up.

and it certainly makes me feel better about the times I've caved, too.

thank you so very, very much for this post, J.

lildb said...
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