Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Iron Man, day two

My back is burning, a searing pain bisecting my left shoulder blade, so intense it's hard to fill my lungs to capacity. My mid back sports a duller ache, almost as if I'd been kicked a few days ago in the kidneys. My sciatica is throwing itself into the mix—a numb tingling in my left butt cheek that can explode into hurt so intense I can't put weight on that side, spasms shooting down the back of my leg. At this point even my breasts hurt, but I'm thinking that's more PMS than laundry hoisting.

My 45 year old body is saying fuck you, don't do that to me anymore.

(2 hours later)

Since starting this post, I've taken Iz to school and watched as she found out she didn't make the school play. The pain of watching her scan the list, over and over, making double, triple, quadruple sure she wasn't on it, that she didn't somehow overlook something, noting her friends and classmates in the cast but not her dulls my laundry injuries. She stood in front of the bulletin board, holding back tears, acting as if it was no big deal when I knew it was a huge, game-changing in a really hard year deal. An hour later, I still have tears in my eyes. This will be one of those moments she'll never forget. I often wonder what events will be the ones that stand out for Iz and Jack. I remember getting lost at Disney World when I was 12, angry there weren't enough tickets for me to go through the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House. I turned away, furious at being left out, and when I turned back, my family was gone. There was the time my dad locked me out of the house, when I was 7, and I wasn't allowed back in to read, my favorite pastime, until I could ride a bike. I remember being the understudy for the witch in the Wizard of Oz and finding out the morning of the performance that Terri, who'd won the part, was sick, that I'd be going on. My mom rushed my costume to school, but 10 minutes before the show started, Terri showed up. My stage debut dissolved back into Munchkin Land.

The memories that resonate most are so often fraught with pain, fear, disappointment. Not making the play is powerful enough to be one of those for her. It will be a touchstone in her life. Perhaps she'll learn a valuable lesson about making more of an effort, going after what she really wants, understanding that just because she really wants it doesn't mean it will happen. That sense of entitlement of early childhood, that you're the center of the universe, that life is really pretty good and you get what you want (for the most part), that birthday parties are filled with cupcakes and balloons, that someone will scoop you up and take care of you when you're hurt, is slipping away from her.

I can't make it better anymore. And that's a part of getting older that's heartbreaking for me. The more independent she becomes, the more she'll own her experiences—I won't be able to fix things. I can listen. I can hug. I can hold her while she wails. I can be the recipient of violent angry outbursts, of mood swings that make my head spin to watch. I can assure her that what she's going through won't last forever, that things will feel good again, that life is full of ups and downs and it's all about knowing she'll be ok in the end. But, I can't take away the hurt. Hers, or mine.

I remember my mother telling me, as I suffered through something, that I couldn't understand how she hurt so much until I had a child of my own.

I get it.

It sucks.

Day 3 is all about the pain of being a mother of a child who's growing.

1 comment:

Amy Oscar said...

Oh how heart breaking... and how tragically human.

Your story brought a flashback: The day my daughter, a third grader with a smile and a hug for everyone, set off for her class's week long overnight trip to a farm in upstate NY.

Recently, Katie had been wrestling with a big challenge: FInding the special someone who would be her "best" friend. Now, her teacher's question: Who do you want to share a bunk bed with? had put her struggle into sharp focus.

Who would she choose? Would someone choose her? Who would sleep on the top bunk? Who on the bottom? We talked about this a great deal and finally, Katie made her choice.

Alas, the beloved "best" friend had been snapped up by a quicker, perhaps less insecure, child. Katie, always positive, rolled with it, partnering up with her second best pal.

I thought it was over - a potential crisis averted. But no. On the day they left, I stood on the train platform with the other parents, watching the children scramble for seats. Heart breaking, I saw it happen: Katie wound up sitting alone - one row behind her three best friends, who'd snuggled into the three-across seat before her.

It's ten years later and KT may not even remember this. But I do. I remember the crush of my heart against my ribcage as she pressed her palm to the window and the train pulled away - and the wrenching sobs as I realized, I cannot help her with this.

Though we mothers know (intellectually) that we must let our children suffer through such things, we suffer right along with them.

Today, in a strange reversal, my own mother is recovering from open heart surgery - and I, the daughter, am feeling HER suffering.

Today I'm thinking: This is how it's supposed to be: That the hearts of mothers and children are inextricably bound - designed to join and support one another, to make such situations bearable.