Friday, July 27, 2007

The Clinging Heart


The girls start daycare full-time next week.  Eric and I paid bills tonight and planned our monthly budget for August and were amazed at how much this all costs.  We shouldn't be, I guess:  in the past, we've contorted our schedule in every possible way to avoid this.  I've worked nights and weekends, and we've both felt stressed that we're not putting in our time at the office the way we should be (not true).  I tried to simultaneously work and parent, laptopping and playing, and felt like I was failing miserably at both (also not completely true).  But we've decided that we'll both be a lot happier if we can try to work while we're at work and be home while we're at home, and with two kids, that means daycare five days a week.  My paycheck at work is about to get a little better, which will help.  And we're not freaked out or anything--we can reduce our spending elsewhere to cover it.  We're just amazed, and wondering how other people do it, and maybe a little pissed off that there isn't more help out there for families.

I had a dream last night that my grandmother passed on, and I was telling Eric about it in the car today, the girls in the backseat.  Addie was listening, little pitcher with big ears that she is, and after a few minutes, piped up.  "Mommy?" she said.  "Do you know when I am going to die?"

I'm used to these conversations by now.  Remember Addie talking about my Aunt Ruth being dead?  She's just exploring this idea of death, and trying to figure out what it means.  So I wasn't too surprised.  "I don't know, Addie," I said in response.  "But I think it's not going to be for a long, long time."

This interaction was a lot harder for Eric--he gripped the steering wheel tight, and said, "Addie, you don't need to worry about that, sweetheart."  And, to me, "Just even hearing that kills me."

It does.  We hate the idea of our kids being sad or in pain, and can't stand the idea of them dying.  It's a good thing it's worked out this way, right?  Otherwise, if we didn't care so much, and some hunger pangs hit, we might go all Donner party and gnaw on the kid's leg for a mid-day snack, oblivious to her wailing.  But at times the emotions feel heavy, like too much to bear.

Addie had a potty accident at school this week.  When I picked her up in the afternoon, she told me about it and said the other kids were making fun of her.  This is tough, because I'm not sure if they really made fun of her, or if "making fun of people" is a concept she is interested in, having heard about it on t.v. or in a book.  It's probably better to assume it really happened, since believing your kids is generally a good idea.  Anyway, the idea of Addie being made fun of killed me.  Just the day before, her teacher had come up to me and said, "You know, she's finally starting to make friends.  I was worried at first because she only wanted to play with me.  But now she's doing much better."

Catch in the throat.  My Addie, my outgoing Addie who says hi to everyone in the street and who talks my ear off and who talks incessantly about her "best, best, best, best, best, best friends," is a loner?  A kid who poops her pants and gets teased?  I thought for sure I had a few more years before these sorts of heartbreaks set in.

But that's me, not her.  She seems unfazed by it all, continues to love school, has made friends.  I mustn't project.  And still, you shield your heart from these coming traumas, try to shield your little ones, your babies.  At work today there was an orientation for parents of future college students at the school.  A panel of us faculty sat on stage, answering questions.  One parent asked us each for our best advice, for what would help their kids succeed.  "Have them talk to their professors," one said.  "Encourage them to seek help," said another. 

"Let them go," I said.

I am so full of shit.

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