Posted by: alegra22 | August 9, 2010

aftermath

My heart feels composed of paper-thin sections but it hangs heavy in my chest. There is a constant buzzing beneath my skin. My mind swarms. The last four weeks have been a continuous cycle of illness and sleepless nights. The chicken pox have flared up, angry constellations moving between the bodies of my children. As the last of those red irritable stars die, scabbing over on Zaviera’s skin, Joaquin spends the day screaming. His top front teeth decide to make a debut. He transforms into two arms reaching, a noise that comes at me over and over and over again, until I pick him up and sling him on my hip. He shoves his face into my chest and bites. I can barely feel the edges of my body.

I spend the day moving through brief exchanges with friends and family over the internet, a revolving door of words, thoughts, quips. They are like small, sweet morsels dissolving on my tongue, giving my blood energy. When Joaquin goes down for his nap, I pull up the latest chapter and edit, trying not to snap at Zaviera when she interrupts the quiet my body needs like it needs oxygen, light, air. The constant crying, Zaviera whining in competition with her baby brother, has left me feeling like a shaken wasps’ nest. A thing repeatedly whacked at by a broom.

I look at her on the couch, small scabs littering her face, a darkness beneath her eyes, and all of the passed opportunities for me to be a good mother, the kind of mother she deserves,  fall on me like a landfill and I am too tired to dig my way out of it. I pick her up in my arms, her small bones folding so easily against my body, and then I set her down again. Mommy still has work to do.

Last night, she threw a tantrum that sent me backing up into myself. I had to pick her up as she screamed and flailed and deposit her in her room. She clawed and howled and I said in my stern voice, “Zaviera, you need to listen to me. It is not okay to yell at me or to hit.” Somewhere in my heart, another self frantically gathered all of her most precious belongings and wrapped them in a polka dot handkerchief. I tied it on the end of a stick, slung it against my shoulder and headed for the horizon.

As I walked down the hallway she slammed the door. I kept putting one foot in front of the other until I reached my husband. I wanted to yell at him, “Why did you get me into this beautiful horrible heartbreaking motherhood mess? I can’t do this!” He could see it in my eyes. He has seen it enough times over the last five years. He wrapped me in his arms and said, “You handled that well. It’s okay.”

Later, when she calmed down, I climbed into bed with her. She pressed her nose into mine, her hands around my neck, and in the quiet, in the settling down of all the buzzing, the anger  of this last week rose up in me. So did the grief. I felt nauseated inside.  Last I’ve heard, the convictions placed against those involved in Cezar’s death won’t go to trial for at least a year. And the other things, the things I can’t talk about, make those wasps in my heart start attacking one another, their wings blurring. I have to let them go. I have to throw dark, heavy blankets over the chaos. There are some stories, some cycles, that have been on this planet for so long, that to try to rewrite them feels like staring down a mountain of water – they are forces that are destined to come crashing down. Over and over and over again.

After Zaviera  falls asleep, I extract myself from her embrace. I go into the living room and curl up with my husband. He rubs my feet. We start to talk about what’s happened. My husband says, “Everytime we discuss this, I feel the energy drain out of my body. We can only do what we can do.”

We are exhausted. When the busyness of the day settles down, when we relax into one another, there on the edges is the sickness of what the last few weeks have brought us. We need to heal, so we watch an episode of Monk, laughing every five minutes, declaring, “Look, did you see that? That was SO Sol, couldn’t you just see him doing that?”

When we are done, we curl into one another. We whisper, “I love you.”

We pray for a good night’s sleep. For an abundant future. To be blessed so that we may be a blessing to others.

The buzz inside me settles into a hum until there is nothing but peace. In a few hours, Zaviera will wake up crying, she will climb into bed. I will wrap my arms around her, half-remembered dreams scattered throughout my mind. In the morning, we will begin again.

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Responses

  1. We are so blessed sweetness,

    Beautifully spoken-written. Always.

    Love You,

    Raniera

  2. I’m so proud of you.
    You made it through chicken pox.

    You’re an amazing mother.
    Dan’s an amazing dad.
    Your kids may not remember all these times, but you will. He will.

    Your words bring me hope.

    I start a new job tomorrow.
    I am leaving this part of my life.
    I’m scared.
    I’m excited.
    I’m mostly apprehensive.

    I read your words and see that it is true for me- “we can only do what we can do…In the morning, we will begin again.”

    thank you.
    still praying
    stacy

    • I read your comment last night and bundled it to my heart. I look forward to reading your thoughts when I post a blog, my husband and I’ve appreciated them so much. There is an intention in your spirit that is so full of warmth that I know as you travel forward into the new job, the new terrain, there is already goodness waiting for you.

  3. One thing I know: you never pass an opportunity to be a good mother.

    Being a good mother isn’t just what you do. It’s who you are. Your fierce love for your children is so strong it resonates in every word you write. They are lucky enough to bask in it daily. And they feel it even when you’re at the end of your rope.

    I hope you can feel the arms of your friends reaching out to comfort you as you reach out to comfort your babies. We’re your nesting dolls 😉

    xoxo

    • Mary, the knowledge of all the love being sent our way is something Dan and I discuss on a daily basis. It means more than I can say.

  4. Oh, how you captured the “feelings” of being a Mother, the inner anxiety of “am I good enough for these children”. The added tragedy of the past few weeks magnifies the necessity of those like you – who are good. Keep on keepin’ on.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Deborah

    • It is so difficult to love other human beings so deeply and to be such a flawed human being myself – there is always a gap between my awe of my children and my limitations (such as my sensory issues with chaotic noise!), but I have to keep trusting that love fills in that gap and that is the way it should be.

  5. This writing, oh this writing… the wasp metaphor…the angry red stars… sigh. You are amazing. And also I saw my self in this. Felt it like a kick in the chest. You are a brilliant writer. And: sending love, sending quiet moments, sending breath towards your little buzzing space in the universe so far from here…

    • Christina,
      These words, coming from you? I feel like you just dropped me in a personal secret garden with everything in bloom.

  6. It goes without saying that I love your writing.

    What I was thinking as I read it though, was how interesting it is that when we feel small and humble and afraid, we pray for small and humble things, like a good night’s sleep. When we feel blessed and abundant; like things are all falling into place, we have the confidence to pray for bigger things, like blessings for others. The common thread is prayer. It seems that no matter how humble or grandiose the prayer, that praying is the balm one’s heart needs.

    • Emily, I agree. I have been thinking about prayer lately and how it is a constant conversation that sometimes is nothing more than a whisper and sometimes it is a head thrown-back shouting match. But it is always there, as important as breathing.


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