I’m tired, but more to the point I’m sad. I have a grey cloud over my head vis-a-vis my troubles and my temperament is such I get entangled in this ish most nights. I’ve tried talking it out, I’ve tried praying on it, I’ve tried meditating, I’ve tried not thinking. But I’m a mess over it all the same.
But now, I sit on my daughter’s bed and try to be with her for a bit. She’s playing on her brother’s 3DS but she puts it aside to cuddle me a while.
She suddenly remembers she has something for me and fetches it from her bag: her progress report, her grades. I flip through a frankly confusing printout and see all A’s and several classes recording over 100%. I am beginning to suspect she’s top of the class. Kind of incredible to me as kids have so much school- and homework these days and she is completely self-motivated about all of it.
“This looks really good. I’m impressed,” I tell her, flipping the packet back on the bed.
I’m quiet a moment and then I say, “You know by doing so well, you’re doing a favor for future homeschoolers and unschoolers out there.”
“You mean I prove that kids can go to school after unschooling and succeed?”
“Yeah,” I say. “You know a lot of people are afraid to unschool or homeschool their kids,” I tell her.
“That’s okay,” she says. And just when I’m thinking how compassionate and live-and-let-live she is she follows up with:
“They just have to get their shit together.”
She says it in the gentlest tone possible.
Ah… my little Beak.Read More
Domestic life. Comforting. We are always shopping, preparing, cooking, cleaning, storing. Then: cleaning out the fridge. Four people (and four critters) eat a lot of food; half the time we are making up an extra plate for a friend, or my mom.
A late-night walk for the pooch; a mail run.
Kitty Josie helps me with my latest – a new coat for my son. It is my first project constructed by my newest sewing machine – a 60s-era Brother, pink and ivory. What is better than a “new” vintage machine? NOTHING!
Today would have been my father’s 71st birthday. I miss him terribly. He taught me so much.
After he died I wrote his obituary – I believe I began it with his body still in the room. Re-reading it now it fucking kills me he never knew my daughter’s real name. He never knew how homeschooling would go for us. He didn’t know Ralph and I would get through some hard years and build a strong marriage.
He never saw me get sober. I don’t think my dad thought of me as an alcoholic but I know he knew I was troubled. It is only through some ministration of divinity I am not in personal agonies that he died before I could make direct amends to him.
I don’t believe he “knows” somehow, anything, now. Or that he is “with” me in some way, watching over me like those maudlin Family Circus comic strips. I believe we have been separated in some profound way and his form will never be reassembled again. “Everything dies”, and from that stark sentence springs a beauty so fierce I want to cry. From that stark sentence springs a faith that is simple and indefensible.
Sometimes I think it was my father’s gentleness, and his witness to my life that enabled me to survive so many trials. My father didn’t rescue me from so many perilous situations, but he seemed to know a lot more about me than anyone else did. I didn’t think anything I did could separate me from his love.
As he sickened and died it was my mother and I alone who stayed witness. Sometimes I think that is a bond she and I share that could also never be broken. I remember watching him in his deathbed and watching him waste away and feeling a profound, keening helplessness that was beautiful in its simplicity. I could cook or clean but nothing would change a thing. I could wait on him but he needed me less and less until he left.
I can remember the panic in my mother’s voice as my father fell into the suffocating last moments of his life, not enough oxygen. She cried out for me while holding his head to her breast. It was a horrible way to die maybe, but we do not know how exactly the body suffers, and our own time will come soon enough. There is no part of me that regrets being there. I only hope I offered him some sort of comfort, some sort of Presence, just like he’d given me.
My heart breaks to think about it. Today would have been a wonderful day to remember him in some way, besides the small slice of lemon meringue pie (his favorite) that my mother procured me. I would have liked to do more – but I was tired, preoccupied, I had a hard day of my own. I know that sometimes these milestones pass and there is only this scuffling sound and an inert sadness.
But even so: one never knows. Tonight in searching his obituary I find his Guest Book hosted by the mortuary; I had never seen these notes before. There is a glimmer of something; someone out there cares. Whatever struggles I go through, mediocre or keenly-felt, there are those who care and who are there to keep pace.Read More
Today one of the chapters closed on our child’s sexual assault case.
I have longed to write more frankly, and more frequently, on the events we’ve been privy to since the abuse first came to light. Interviews, medical exams, evaluations, appointments, reading materials, and helpful and less-helpful professional experiences, opinions, and evaluations.
But I don’t write more, because I have been learning to more deeply respect my child(ren)’s privacy. In the early days post-abuse disclosure, when I was treading water and flailing, I shared a few details with adults in my life. Not every one of those people held my disclosures in confidence. I’m not sure how much it hurts to be gossiped about, for me personally. But it really hurt that I trusted a few people with my child, and they were clumsy with the child’s safety, and the child’s story. So, I’m not willing to throw my child’s life on that particular bonfire again.
Damn their eyes!
I have a few friends that I’d trust with my absolute life, and those are the friends who hear more on the subject. They have been a lifeline.
But oh, how I’ve suffered. I’ve suffered horribly. I’ve suffered in ways that don’t make sense. The depth and breadth of my suffering has been unreal. Sleep has been snatched from me; at times my appetite slapped from my mouth. As a spiritual mentor of mine told me last fall – “Remember – this didn’t happen to you. It happened to your kid.” Her helpful sentence has sometimes been the slim thread that has kept me in sane behavior – if not in a sane thought-life.
I’ve suffered while trying to do my best with institutions and entities that have been occasionally helpful, but often bureaucratic, dishonest, and frustrating. Entities who had more information on the assaults than I, yet were not willing to share it. I’ve had to make decisions and find counseling and advocacy and that has felt like a crap shoot at times. The financial expenses are nothing when compared to the anguish of worrying for my child’s wellbeing.
I am not trying to complain for pity, or for – well, anything. I am trying to be honest. This has been difficult. And since my habit of writing – and writing frankly, warts and all – is one of the most helpful exercises I’ve ever had at my behest, to err on the side of non-disclosure these past months has been stifling.
I only write now, not for my own therapeutic efforts but in case someone who reads here may one day need comfort. I can say this has been the hardest thing I’ve gone through as a parent – so far. Sometimes the pain is so great I don’t know what to do with it. It has been a dark experience. I can feel okay for a while but then something bumps up against me and suddenly I am angry. I can’t sleep. I am full of anxiety. My trust is etched away in an acidic bath of hate.
So today – another report. Another series of findings. A case closed. Another difficult talk within the family.
I light a candle and take Refuge. I swim for an hour and meditate. I do housework; I help others. I feed my body and care for my loved ones (and a few friends, and a few strangers).
Friends give me tender loving care. They send me kind messages, texts, and sometimes emails. Sometimes they send funds, which are very helpful. Sometimes they more or less just tell me they read here – that is very helpful too.
I’m trying to be patient with myself. Because lately life has been dark, and ugly, and baffling.Read More
During our new swim session a few of the homeschool parents descend on me at poolside – almost ravenously. It had been a couple years since I connected with the group. Touchingly, even though I have been absent for a while, and I don’t remember their names nor their children’s, a few ask about my daughter. I tell them about Phoenix enrolling in school, and how she’s doing. There is a bit of a flutter as a few of them seem to be deciphering that in some way. One woman says, “You can write on your blog about how you can go from unschooling, to [successful] schooling. Most people I talk to think unschooling won’t work.”
Why YES I CAN! And what a great idea that is! And – you are right! And – thank you for the reminder! I am a little delighted. My brain is all rusty and cobwebby.
I only discovered there was a six-week class an hour before the class, so I’m just glad we made it here on time. I’m not quite ready to publicly interface in a graceful way. I have a pen in my hand and I’m meeting a friend and I’m watching my son in the pool – I’m watching him learn a bit more about proper swimming technique. I’m so glad the sun is shining through the windows and I’m so glad to be here with him.
I am not used to getting invasive questions but today I am not minding much. I am mellow like Ben Murphy. Since I don’t feel I owe anyone an explanation sometimes I just let the questions or assumptions roll over me like water.
And hell sometimes, I think directness (in the form of, “Why are you doing this? Why do you do that?”) can be refreshing. Because let me tell you, I have encountered some weird behaviors in my day. People who hint so many layers deep I know they’re fucking with me but I can’t figure out exactly why. People who aggressively compliment. Can’t figure that one out either. People who, like today, corner me and start telling me very detailed stories about a specific cultural aspect of their home – even though I am sitting with a workbook on my lap and I was busy writing in it when they approached. I am not here to socialize – not today, at least.
Nels is the last out of the pool; it is so warm out I simply wrap him in his towel and hold his clothing under my arm. Home for a bath and then to enjoy the sun. It’s a good day to walk this Earth.Read More
“I’m so thirsty,” my son says. “I could kill a cow for its BLOOD.”
You know. Not its milk or anything.
“A gallon would be fine,” he continues.
“Of water,” a suddenly docile young man amends.
Today is rough. Several responsibilities, and I’m feeling off, and tired, and anxious. You know a few years ago, for about fourteen months, I had this prescription for Klonopin and took it nightly. A small era in my life but sometimes I miss it. It’s hard to relax. Sometimes.
But I don’t get bored of “chores” (housework, errands, cooking, appointments) on days like this because these so-called menial tasks are bookended by some brief but really unsavory ones. Since I get to do shit I don’t want to do, and deal with shit I occasionally wish wasn’t happening, anything short of physical agony or emotional bankruptcy is still pretty cool.
My daughter burns some homework; symbolic of her Spring Break:
Later she emails me: “Google up ‘bigfin squid nope’. You won’t be disappointed. Or maybe ye will.”
Yeah, so. Days like today I cling to kindness: the kindness of friends, who support me in so many wonderful ways. I cling to humor: my kids have got it right, a lot of times when I simply don’t. I cling to the knowledge I tried to help others. Today I helped facilitate a meeting with about fifteen young addicts and alcoholics. Statistically, something like three of them will get and stay clean and sober. Today I tell them, “You’re the lucky ones. No one’s life is over yet! You know why you’re all young, right?”
And I wait to see if they get where I’m going with this.Read More