From the past week:
Frustration the color of crushed grapes; my fingers in my palms. We’re at a stand off: my five year old and I. He wants to do one thing, I’ve given him a choice of two others. It was like this when he was a baby. People said, “just let him cry it out,” but when we did, a single time, he cried for an hour, then fell asleep but woke up angry, remembering everything. Now his eyes are puffy with tears and allergies and I’ve had far too little time to myself, and far too many deadlines to make time now for this push and pull. I scream. SCREAM at him. I am ashamed, heartbroken. I want to snip through everything I’ve done with a small pair of embroidery scissors, thread after indelicate thread until I get back to the place where our hearts are close and our cheeks touch.
I hate you, Mommy. I hate you he screams.
Nothing prepared me for this. For the way I would feel like I had ruined everything. Like being broken up with, but irreparably worse. (Thank god we have a few more years before he is a teenager to figure things out...)
Finally I backed down. He played outdoors. We skirted each other ashamed by the mess we’d made of things. At bedtime he asked for Daddy to read to him, and slipped by my studio door without coming to goodnight.
2. T carries him into the bedroom before I am awake. The feeling of his bird like shoulder blades; the hull of his delicate ribs; the haphazard placement of his marionette arms against my neck, wakes me. I love you Mommy. I love you so much.
I love you too. I love you. I love you. I whisper back. His elbow makes an upside down V along the line of my chin. I press my nose into his neck where it smells forever just like him: like cookies and grass and autumn air, and slip a little towards a softer sleep.
3. We're downtown at a street festival and he stands watching the fire throwers, just like his dad, hands in pockets, one knee bent, transfixed. I leave the two of them watching and walk with Sprout and my mother to the Capitol green, where my littlest runs like he has something to prove. (He does: joy is everywhere.) His face beams. He climbs every set of stairs he can finds. He stops to smell every single flower; stroking the plush purple petals of the petunias as though they are the source of joy. (They are.)
4. My little one. He is the still point at the center of my heart, and a twirling dervish that colors my heart with of comfort. He is curls and sticky fingers and sweat on his brow and newly found independence and tantrums. He is laughter with juice running down his chin. He carries crushed gingersnap cookies in his fist and grins.
5. I can see them walking towards us across the green grass, both wearing yellow, like sunshine flooding towards me. They walk in synch and they are grinning: they’ve gotten lemonade and a new hat and gloves for him for winter, and they are almost one and the same, those two foreign bits of my heart.
6. The light is golden and the hills are purple and flame. The leaves have begun to turn to orange; tattered yellow; ocher. The grass is dewy now and strewn with the tree’s spent energy of a season.
Light refracts like fire in what remains.