It’s spring break in Grand Haven, but spring break or not, we’ve always been a family that travels. For a week or sometimes just a couple days, we hit the road whenever we get a green light to go. We are privileged in this way, having been able to show our boys so much of this country at such young ages. Their excitement each time they discover something unexpected, something new, makes the work of these trips worth it. Burrowing down into crisp hotel sheets at the end of a full day with all of my children gathered in the same room, I listen to them drift off one by one until I am the only one left awake. This is when I finally recount the hours, tucking the highlights away for a bit of warmth on a day when it’s hard to find the sun.
“Wagon Wheel” pounds from the radio, and we are headed south. “Louder,” shouts a kid from the back. I should insist on manners but don’t. I’m so tired of talking. “Where we going?” says the baby. “Mama! Where we going?” he repeats. “To the mountains,” I say. “Where?” “To the mountains.” “Where?” Forget it. It’s impossible to hear in this car, but the song and the sun beat against my chest, begging me to turn it up, so I do. We are calling in the good spirits to bring back that joy we lost all those months ago. Joy was a fickle friend last year, and the warmth soaking through the windshield says she promises to change. She means it this time; I want to believe it. As the chorus hits, my husband points out a waterfall charging down the rocky roadside, a scene created by heavy morning rain. The kids keep count of each stream leaping off the edge. Eventually, an argument erupts. There is a cheater in our midst, someone fudging numbers to claim all the glory for himself.
I am starting this year by claiming defeat. Last night, I fired off an email to my kids’ principal, begging the school to take them back. I tried. We all tried. And cried. And then tried again. But this is not working, and something has to give. If I’m not careful, it will be my very fragile state of mind. This past year has taught a lifetime of lessons, but one of the most apparent to me is that children are not meant to learn via blips on a screen – recorded videos from some revolving writing instructor sitting at a kitchen table 200 miles away, pages of social studies transformed to digital drivel, Michigan’s economy laid out before a third grader in 4 interactive maps, 2 color-coded graphs and 16 clickable boxes, each containing their own individual set of instructions. I watch my son stare into the monitor, eyes beginning to glaze.
I am standing in a minefield of spilled blueberries. My foster son gnaws at a banana in the grocery cart, smashed fruit littering his face and the gaps between the fallen berries on the floor. In my wallet sits a state issued Bridge Card waiting to be used, but the moment the flimsy carton busts... Continue Reading →
Five of us sit, silent in a 10 x 10 hospital room. Our foster son is on an operating table down the hall having a minor procedure which feels major given the previous months of recurring illness and sleepless nights. We are hoping this one finally does the trick. The last procedure, six months prior, brought little improvement.
“I’m selling the shop,” he said. “With places like these, you never know what kind of offer will come when you’re finally ready, so if you get one that’s any good, you have to take it.” A week later, he walked out the door into retirement and my beloved heroine was left slumped over a laptop, deflated once again.
There is a little boy who lives at our house. He sleeps in the corner of our bedroom cuddled under the fleece of hand-me-down blankets inside a well-loved crib. The teeth marks of our three children decorate the railing. A sad gray bunny sits at the foot of the mattress keeping watch.
My Facebook game is strong. I have a cover photo boasting a towering mountain range from our last trip out west. There’s a profile pic with three happy children and a smiling husband.
I’m learning to parent like I’m dying. Tomorrow, or next Tuesday, sometime soon. Death is imminent. And really, it kind of is. In the grand scheme of things, the hundreds of millions of billions of souls floating back and forth from Earth to sky, our death is imminent. We are all dying. Every day. Every... Continue Reading →