Rock a bye

Hike up to the big rocks to see our tiny house down there, choose rocks for the new fireplace, move rocks along the garden walk, order a load of rock for the paths. Rock, rock, rocks. I can’t sleep.  Rocks for a pillow. Gravel filled chest and eyelids. Dry throat and tongue. The taste of dirt. Get up, make coffee. Mud. I’ll make you some tea when you get up.  Before school.  later.

Its damp, rainy, cold; thunder and lightning shake the timbers of the house, my timbers shiver.  How are they doing down there in the tent? I can see a glimmer of light. They leave the string Christmas bulbs on all the time. How’s our Liza? How can she possibly be okay? You have slept here in our room for the past three nights. Maybe you guys won’t make it through the winter in the tent.  Some people could, but not your mom and dad.  Not them.

I’d hoped your mommy and daddy would figure something out on their own. But knew they wouldn’t. I had to believe that the tent would hold up.  Grandpa and I both did.  We talked about each detail. We all hoped. It has been okay until now. But now its November. The little sleeping room we are adding to the back of the cottage house should be done soon.  But it’s not yet. You and Liza will sleep here anytime.  Maybe all the time and mom and dad have to figure out the tent or leave. But the room’s not done and the rain is here.  What do we do now, buddy?

In bed, when I tossed my head to the right, I saw you here with Grandpa and I.  Sleeping warmly, but I couldn’t see the daytime.  It was a dream. But, I couldn’t see me and grandpa and you and Liza all the time.  I lose you. You run to fast and Ellie rolls away and I wake up startling myself. Grandpa is too tired, has to go to work, to planning meetings and must sit and read quietly.  Like grandpa and grandmas are supposed to do.  Maybe we hire somebody to help all of us.  Maybe somebody lives here and helps us and becomes your nanny, your friend.  Maybe you still have your mommy and daddy here to play with, visit and…oh, dear.  Where do they live?

I toss to the left and think about grandpa and me in the tent instead. Maybe the garage to sleep and the tent for daytime and evening meals.  To the right, daddy and mommy in tent, to the left grandpa and grandma in the tent. Then, staring at the ceiling, I see it all crumbling apart. So what’s next?  Middle. Right. Left.  Maybe Grandpa and I move to another house for a few months. And your family has this one. But where?  How do I supervise construction? You supervise them?

Just I get up, I tell myself.  Make a new plan.  You can figure this out.  Its 4 am again.  You have to be ready for school in four hours.  I guess I can write for a few minutes.  I have time.  Then I’ll pack your lunch. I should go get Liza.  Maybe she’s cold. Too much is hard right now.  Maybe I’ll just sit quietly and pet the dogs.  Maybe I’ll close my scratchy eyes and think about Thanksgiving dinner. I know if it weren’t for the construction, we’d pack you two up and go someplace warm for a few months.  That’s not a bad idea. But I am the manager of the project, the manager. Manager. Ear rocks, spinning head. So just manage, I tell myself.

Metro whines for food, you and Grandpa sleep and Georgia rolls to one side, heavy on my feet.  Rock a bye baby….wind blows…rock, rock, rock, little angel.  gma

Turning Sixty

My birthday was a month ago, but sixty?  Not me.  Younger than myself feels truer than the six tens of years that the numbers call me.  But today, I am feeling ten, six times over.  And more.  Sixty is heavy with experience.  Weighted with life.  Like pile of rocks with each stone an added event, a thing that happens, placing another stone on the pile, heaped into the hourglass of years to roll downward eventually piled with the others, ten twenty..all the way closer to one hundred than zero.  No doubt about it.  Sixty years sifts by, spills out and rumbles its way through tearing the connective tissue.  I  see sixty in the mirror. Damn wrinkles, damn gravity, damn kids.

Liza and Ann came home today, daddy went to work and you went back to the tent. You didn’t want to go.  Everyone is full of salt.  Everyone of us needs a nap, a bowl of hot soup and a vacation.  But this is the beginning.  Talking adults starts you humming loudly, kicking the floor, creating a distraction.  So we stop, but we’ll never finish.  I’m coughing up a golf ball each time I talk to your mommy.  Don’t want to make her run. I have to be careful.  Approach her by connecting with her and solving a mutual problem.  Daddy is confused.  And leaves the room regularly.  Your mom too.  She needs to sleep before anymore thinking.  Liza waves bye the happiest one here like a prom queen wave, twist and rotate the hand.  Kisses, buddy. We’ll tackle more tomorrow.  Tomorrow I may be seventy.  Or maybe tomorrow mommy will grow up.  Maybe daddy will grow up. But probably not.  Probably not.

Keep playing, little bud.  Keep playing.  Gma

Is this it?

Today Liza is gone.  She is sick. Mommy and Liza are at the hospital.  Ellie has a bad cold, RSV, which is common in the Fall and can create bad pneumonia for babies.  But this sick is more about mommy and daddy.  They kept Liza there because of suspected neglect.  OMG.  I drove back early from an out of town meeting to catch the CPS social worker  ready to call the sheriff.  Ready to assign a foster family.  Your sister lost too much weight.  You were with Grandpa.  Daddy was at work.  Mommy was defensive and had to get home for a break so I arrived and met with the CPS worker.  Bad.  Its bad.  Its really bad news for your family, our family.

Your sister is skinny.  Mommy and daddy are not too good at their jobs as parents. That’s the problem. That’s what has always been the problem.  Now the social workers are noticing.  Breathe. I should have taken you before this, Liza too. Just taken you.

Let’s you and I go to New Leaf to get some food.  Let’s pretend I am just your Grandma.  Not the one in your life taking care.  Not anything special.  Not a foster mom, grand mom, a co-parent.  Please, not that.  I long to be an old lady, someone’s grandma, my husbands old wife.  That’s all.  Not a mom of a one-year and a 3 year old.  Not that.  But what about you?  What do you need?  What works for you? I do. I know. I do.

Martyr me goes to the store.  Boy in cart.  Baby at the hospital.  Grandma’s burden.  Choosing odd things to eat, we are trying out for our parts in this new act.  Its inevitable, real. Am I a co-mom?  UGH.  That really hurts.  Today is not a good day.  Today, your mommy blows it.  Today your daddy does the laundry and asks me what to do.  Today you and I plant potatoes.  The CPS worker checks my criminal record. Today we eat halibut.  Today we get you to bed at my house.  Tonight you say, I love you Grandma.  Tonight you brush your teeth just like I do and pull up your jammies like Grandpa does.  Tonight you sleep in my room.  Tonight, little buddy, you are safe. Asleep.  Liza and Mommy at the hospital.  Tonight things change forever.   gma.

We all pretend

I was talking to a friend yesterday about your family.  I told her about Mommy’s school, your school, Liza’s spunk, daddy’s job and your tent life.  I bragged about all of you.  With a few tiny worries slipped in.  Worries about adults, not kids.  You guys are great.  I told my friend that I was probably too optimistic.  Probably deluding myself about your mommy and daddy’s abilities.  Oh well, I guess I thought its better to believe than to have no faith.  It rubs off on everyone. Doesn’t it? Or am I just pretending?

Pretending is useful.  It serves so many purposes.  It’s for mental health, cognitive growth and idea formation.  Its social, it’s a healthy and necessary part of child development, grown up life, too, a shield, a place to hide.  You pretend that the Play Mobile people can fly, they fly to travel, to eat, to find safety.  You build them shelters, serve them food and sometimes put them in danger.  But then you help them overcome their obstacles, get them out of danger, find safety.  These are life skills, tools; attributes of healthy humans.   Problem solving can never be practiced enough.  Keep it up, buddy.  And even when pretending represents escape from reality.  That’ too serves a purpose.  Hey, that’s what I am doing.

Today I got a long email from your mommy’s dad, John.  He came around last year about this time when you guys decided to move to Montana.  He showed up for a little drama.  Then left.  It was weird. He rides a white horse, but wears a black hat, Buddy.  Watch out.  He scolded me about not taking good care of your family, letting you live in squalor, giving you no medicine when you are ill and not even providing a thermometer for the baby!  I wonder why your mommy complained to him?  She has really hurt my feelings.  She doesn’t tell the truth, and manipulated her own daddy to think she needed him.  That’s lying.  It’s a kind of pretending, but not honest.  It was mean.  Sometimes when someone is mean, you want to be mean to them.  My insides are having a wrestling match.  And it makes my stomach hurt.  It paralyzes me for a while.  That means I can’t act.  I can’t do anything.  I am so so sad about it.  Its called betrayal among other things. She didn’t keep an unspoken agreement in our relationship.  To talk to one another.

When I feel this kind of sad, surprised by the betrayal, I know that I was pretending.  And not in a healthy way.  I was fooling myself , and that can be called denial.  Not seeing what is there all along.  Your mommy can be so mean and hurtful when she is hurting.  And now I carry worry, anger and confusion about what she wanted to have happen after lying to her dad.  What was mommy thinking?  What is really going on?

At times like this, when adults get upset, sad and confused, we’ll protect you and Liza from hearing meanness or getting worried as well as we can, but this is also a time when we have to be honest.  So you will know that we are struggling, that we seem upset at one another, and you won’t understand.  But trust me, buddy, we love you and are working hard to be sure you people who love you stay close and available  whenever you need us. There’s no pretending about that.

Sad today gma