I’ve put them to bed, after a particularly animated reading of Jason and the Golden Fleece, and the requisite argument about when, exactly the big light will be turned off and how long Rosalyn has to read before she needs to consider how early Vivian’s day starts. More water. Let the kitten in. Let the kitten out. Fix my blankets. Find my bear.
I think I’m done, and I go in search of dinner, now that it’s 8:30 and my stomach is pleasantly but insistently reminding me I haven’t eating since 2pm, aside from that greasy handful of peanut M&M’s around 5 from the vending machines at work. I’m humming that Health song I’ve been obsessing over, and mulling my options when I hear a door open and small feet pad across hardwood.
Mummy, exactly why do you and Daddy not get along anymore?
–I could mutter and mention that we don’t have the same goals, or really, goals at all or I could mention that we’re so far gone that any little thing, leaving trash on the counter, not saying thanks, is misconstrued as being something it isn’t. Or how Mommy just can’t take being married to someone who sits up until 4 am and sleeps until 11 or so in the morning but has no time for her or how Daddy obviously wants something Mommy isn’t and no one can really explain what that is since all Mommy is trying to do is be an adult and a mother and live a life full of those things, for now. I could blather out any of those things, stretching all the way back to wondering if I should have taken his name or if I should have somehow given the girls his name as well but–
I don’t say anything. I stare at her intently, this girl child, this woman to be, and I hold her close, her tiny, wiry arms wrapping around me, her body pressed up against mine. I can feel the silent urge to scramble in to me, to become part of me again, to find that place where it is safe and the world makes sense. I remember what I felt when my parents told me Mom was sick, THAT sick, and dropping ache that sat in my stomach like a piece of cheap meat. I hold her shaking body and hope she doesn’t feel this.
I explain, In the sky there are clouds, and they are perfectly happy clouds together, fluffy in the blue sky and all, but that sometimes, each cloud has it’s own bath, and they aren’t together. Sometimes, the clouds smile and go their different ways. Daddy and I, we’re like the clouds, except we’re happy when we find our paths, not when we’re sitting still together. We’re happier apart because there’s no fighting, no yelling and screaming and crying and being mean to each other. Just, friends. We’ll always, always be friends.
She looks at me unconvinced.
The best thing Vivian, of Daddy and I, is you, and Rosalyn. We love you, we will always love you, to the moon and back, to the moon, to infinity. That will never change, for any of us. We are always connected. We’re clouds in the same sky, all of us.
Dubious she looks. And I don’t much blame her. In a few days, we went from the family she knew, that which she felt safe within, to a place she doesn’t quite understand, a place that scares her. Daddy moving out. Daddy having a new place.
She doesn’t quite know where to put it all. And it fills up her chocolate eyes each night, leaving me to decipher her tears into something I can manage. But what can a 6 year old fear that I can make better? I can rationally know that this will be better in the long run. But she forgets what day Tuesday is sometimes. Time is not negotiable at this age-it’s ether, floating, all days together and yet not. She only sees, fears his back out the door, gone from her.
I can’t find the right words to fix this hurt, and maybe it’s not my job to do so. But the hurt in her eyes, the keening wail from her throat, I recognize them, and it’s a legacy I wish I could slice out from her. I was never my wish to do this to her, my precious child.
These tears should have been saved much much longer.
Tonight she was pretty much crying when I got home, at the littlest of things, my normally resiliant girl forced to tears over, well, anything. But the look on her face is what caught me. Instead of the usual “I’m not getting my way, let loose the dogs of whine” look, there was one I’ve felt so often in the past-the look of a person who has utterly lost the pulse, fallen from control. It was like her sense, her self was spinning outside of her, and she couldn’t catch it.
Into the bath with a few battles. A few stern moments about the whiny voice. Screaming about having the hair combed, even when I wasn’t combing. Dried off, into bed. Told tomorrow we’d read for her again, tonight was for Ros.
I HATE the sharing in this family! tears…
I sat with her and held her some more, murmered that I loved her. Asked if she felt out of control. She nodded yes.
Well Viv..taking a deep breath and hoping I got it right…sometimes we need to cry. Sometimes we need to sit and be sad or mad and find a way to let it go. I cry-I feel better. It’s normal and good and I know you’re sad and frustrated and confused right now, and I want you to feel better. I’m sad too Viv. I’m sad too. Please, cry if you have to. I understand. I get it.
And I love you. To infinity and beyond.
some snuffles. What’s infinity. Is it a descriptive word?
It’s forever hun. I’ll love you forever.
She lays down with a few more sniffles, concerns herself with the cat and demanding Rosalyn turn the light out soon. I shut the door behind me.
It opens when I’m 10 feet away, and I steel myself.
I love you past the universe Mum. Past the universe.