Thursday, October 21, 2010

How do You Title Something this Morbid?

Ever since I started to live alone with Max, I've thought often of what would happen to him if something happened to me. Like, in the middle of the night.

A mother cannot afford to be mortal, at least not while her kids are young.

Early on I lost a lot of sleep worrying about what his tiny little self would do if I were hurt late at night and he woke up to find me unresponsive. What would he do? How long before anyone noticed? How would he manage? How long would he be alone? How would it affect him to see me like that?

My worry and fear are at this point only very slightly assuaged by the fact that he's older, more verbal, with better understanding. It wouldn't be any less a terrible thing, but at the very least, he could call his father, or Jevo, or my parents on the phone. The truth is, though, I don't even know if he would think of that, and I've struggled with how to even approach this.

This is, after all, a very real possibility. I live alone with him, and anything can happen. And if "anything" happens while we're home alone, it's a very real problem for me to figure out how to prepare him and educate him without scaring him. It's not right that I haven't done anything about this - but what the hell am I supposed to do, exactly?

I know this is terribly morbid of me, but like I said, I think about this often. You know how something tragic happens to a young person and at least one person always says, "You just don't think something like this to could happen to someone her age" or, "At our age, you think you're immortal, that it can't happen to you"? I've never been that person. Never. Not as a kid; not as a teen; and certainly not now. I've always thought it could be me - too much so, really. There's no tragedy that I don't take and place myself smack in the middle of.

But it's been in living alone with my son that my sense of my own mortality has become really real, more than by anything my imagination could conjure in the wake of others' misfortunes. I'm suddenly aware that I really, really can have a deadly accident (and last year's car accident affected me so deeply because it hit too close to this reality), or be the victim of a crime, or become seriously ill. It saddens me and makes me worry for him, but honestly, for me, too. I don't want to contemplate my own mortality, don't want to have to deal with this while my son is so young. I hate these thoughts, hate the worry, hate being so morbid, hate the way one bad thought or situation spins off into multiple terrible thoughts and scenarios. ARGH.

And yet, this is motherhood. This is as much a part of it as anything else. It's hard to switch this off if I fall into a funk, but at the same time, it presses on me exactly how important it is to savor every day I have with him. And I do. I revel in every moment and pray that he does, too. I pray that I worry for nothing, that I never stop savoring what I have.

Funny how such morbidity brings about such gratitude, too.

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Posted by Tere @ 10/21/2010   | | | links to this post

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Take Me Back to the Start

I adore songs by theme. I'll get caught up somewhere in my head, a place where a specific theme is stuck, looping over and over, and I'll play my own musical loop on my iPod, songs that correspond to that theme.

One of those themes is the notion of going back to the start, and/or of staying rooted right where you are, waiting. Both concepts are about the same to me. It's unavoidable sometimes to wish to go back to the start of something, when it was fresh and new and hopeful; when it lay wide open before you and anything was possible, and "anything," whatever it was, you were so, so sure, was good.

It's a very similar idea to staying in one place, waiting. There is something to that, to holding on to one time and place because that's the one that defines you in some way. There are times you can't help holding on to, at first because that time was simply very sweet, very significant, but later, as it grows more distant, you realize it's because that was a moment where you knew yourself, knew another in a strange, aching, perfect connectedness. Sometimes that place is the start, and it's here that the two ideas meet.

This is a place I find myself in sometimes. It's wistful, melancholic - two emotions I feel in spades, about a long list of things.

There are, of course, other themes. But a couple of months ago, this was the loop in my brain, and on my iPod. The "back to the start/waiting" songs I was listening to the most are these:

Crashing Down by Mat Kearney
En El Muelle de San Blas by ManĂ¡
The Scientist by Coldplay
The Man Who Can't Be Moved by The Script

Like almost everything, though, it got much too morose for me, and I had no choice but to slap some sense back into myself. Loop unstuck... till a different theme takes hold.

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Posted by Tere @ 10/16/2010   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

I Love Me Most when I'm not Myself

A couple of weeks ago, I let Max (and his cousins) finish off a pan of brownies for breakfast. When I told him the news - "hey, go eat some brownies before your cousins finish it all!" - he looked so stunned that he didn't move for a few seconds. When he realized I meant it, he was off in a flash. A few minutes later, as the four of them crowded over the pan, their fingers grabbing chunks of brownies, their mouths dirty, crumbs littering the table, they were engaged in some hush-hush conversation when they all looked up at me and shrieked, "THANK YOU!" And in that moment, watching this scene and feeling tickled at whatever sparked such a cool moment from me, I found myself thinking, this is the kind of person I want to be. Let me explain why this is a big deal to me:

The day before, I'd spent the day/evening with Max and my nieces and nephew, watching them while their parents were away. A day of being silly in the pool and an outing to the movies culminated with all of us at my sister's house - with a couple more cousins thrown in - eating pizza and making brownies. By the time I shooed everyone to bed, it was almost 11 p.m., and we all crashed into exhausted sleep. I just described what unfolded early the next morning.

For the day that Max and I spent at my sister's house with her kids, I was the Tere I always want to be but am not. I was a little more laid-back, a little more relaxed and not so quick with my "no"s. I realized this, of course, after it was all done, when the brownie scene was over and I pondered what was making me feel so happy and light. And what it was, was this: for once, I was just plain old Tere living her life with Max and jevo (who joined us for part of the day) and her nieces and nephew. I was Tere as she sees herself in her mind but as she can't be in practice. I had perspective; I wasn't drowning in worry and "what if"s; I wasn't treating the day as something to pepper with lessons or rush through. And most importantly, I was not the Tere I've become, the one who is half a mom and devastated by it; the one who carries so much guilt that seems impossible to shed; the one in a never-ending limbo, living two lives, back and forth, just like my son; the one who can only see her life through these narrow filters that just cast too many damn shadows. (butchered metaphor, I know....)

That morning was a rare moment where "real Tere" snuck out, and it felt wonderful. I was fun. I put my guard down. I wasn't over-thinking. I was in the moment. This is me as I am in moments that are not frequent enough. All that I've been through over the last two-and-some years, I have recently realized, has been much more intense than I previously accounted for. It's scarred me, and it's marked me in ways I didn't foresee. And it's only now, when everything finally seems stable and life is good, that I can see just how true this is.

So the question becomes, how do I break through the fog that's preventing me from being more like I was that Sunday morning? And how do I get out of limbo, stop filtering and widen my perspective? How do I stop worrying that I've wrecked Max's life and stop beating myself up for "doing this to my son"?

How do I allow myself to be happy and to accept what I feel: that this life that I never expected to find myself in is indeed good and that my boy and I, that we are truly, really, very o.k.?

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Posted by Tere @ 10/05/2010   | | | links to this post