Friday, January 30, 2015

snowbelt winter, and my kids at 8 and almost 7

I heard from two different folks that the sunrise this morning was spectacular, but I'm having trouble imagining that because it would require SUN and today is so completely soaked in gray that I feel it press up against me.

Yesterday there was sun. For the first time in a hundred years, a full sunny day, glistening on the snow, amazing, delicious. I walked the dog for a long time, even though the air was cold cold cold. I felt like I was drinking long pulls of cool water, the sun. That was yesterday. Today there is steel gray everything plus hail. 

I definitely have the winter blues. Seasonal affective disorder. Cabin fever. Crazy person syndrome. The conviction that everything is heavy, everything is hard, everyone is tired, life is monotone and endless. Doesn't that sound great? 

We live in the SnowBelt and this is an actual Thing-- four cities in a line, snug up against Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, all writhing under the power of Lake Effect. We get more snow than anyone else in the country (although whenever I see those statistics I never see Alaska listed. Do they just think of Alaska in another class? Are they only interested in continental US? And how on earth does anyone live in the Alaska winter anyway? I cannot imagine. Rather, I can imagine--SnowBelt cold and gray but with less light and more dreary dreariness. What I can't imagine is how people live and work there and come out sane on the other end). 

It hasn't been snowing much this year. Winter is always gray and cold, but usually there is more snow, more of it blowing around in the air. I miss it. It's what makes all this tolerable. 

Ok, I'm done with the weather.

Frances says she wants to grow up and marry a regular guy and he will win the lottery (why he instead of she?) and they will live in a mansion with a pool and go to Disney world and have three kids two boys and a girl. And for work she will be a bartender. 

I said, "That's your plan? That's what you aspire to do with your life?" Wow. 

Clark said he is going to grow up and not have kids although the getting married thing is unclear, and he will have a cabin in the woods and collect shotguns. He will also have a house in the country. And for work he will be an artist. 

Who are these kids? And what on earth does Frances know about tending bar? For the record, they haven't been to Disney and no one in our family owns a gun, shotgun or otherwise. No idea. 

Recently I had two far away friends ask me to post again on the blog, a way to keep up with me and with the kids. And recently two new friends asked to see the blog so I forwarded them a link. Whenever anyone asks to see the blog I take a look at it too, try to see what they will see, and then I get a bit sidetracked reading about my kids when they were littler. So much of it I don't remember, and I'm so glad I have it written down. One of the posts I read was about toddler Clark and how to keep him in his bed at night, and I asked for help and suggestions. One of the comments (by anonymous) said: "OMG. Makes me so glad for picking a sleeping philosophy and sticking with it. Parenting doesn't have to mean giving up your life, your boundaries, and routines.  My suggestion? Toddler bed--not a fancy bribe, just a bed. In his room. (It's where one sleeps.) Put him back. And back. And back. And back. Period. I just don't see it as subjecting him to some awful powerlessness. Kids need to know that a trusted adult will make decisions, provide structure, be in control, and can be relied on to do just that."

Thing is, I wasn't always a trusted adult, I don't think. I wasn't always in control. Sometimes I pulled the van into the garage and sat in the driver's seat with my head on the steering wheel, sobbing. Sometimes when Clark wouldn't stay in his room, I would become every so slightly hysterical and scream a tiny bit and lose my cool. Sometimes the gray and the toddler hysteria and the schlepping of things and the lack of support and the complete tetheredness was simply too much for me and I would break. Just a little. I agree that kids need a trusted adult to help them cope with their big and confusing feelings, but sometimes a trusted adult simply isn't available. It's unfortunate. It's imperfect. It's the way it is. 

But now--now that they are in first and second grades, now that Frances is 8 and Clark is almost 7, now that they can dress themselves and feed themselves and empty the dishwasher and vacuum the family room-- now I can be a trusted adult. Now I can stand solidly on the ground and provide a home base, a place to reground, to regroup, to check in to see if everything is normal, is ok. Now I think of myself as a good parent (thank all that is good and holy). My earlier struggle was the primary impetus for the blog in the first place. Which perhaps is why I slid away.

But since loved ones have requested, and since I'm still teaching the memoir class and wanting to do some writing too, I'm going to spend some time here. Hello again! If anyone is still out there, hello!!