At bedtime one night last week, Miguel said, "Mama, it is hard growing up when you feel scared and are just trying to figure things out." Well, it's also hard when your kid speaks such truth and you have PMS and are already prone to the weeping. I smiled and agreed by nodding. It's not that I don't cry in front of my children. I do. I cry when I'm angry, when I'm sad, when I'm tired. Ask Zeca if she has seen me cry and she will tell you the epic tale of 2007 - The Time Mama Cried the Cake*. Yes, I cried when I was making her birthday cake and the chocolate cake broke into bits which resulted in very unattractive brown crumbs in the otherwise pristine pink frosting. That night in Miguel's room, though, I fought back the tears because I wanted to create a reassuring air, not an "oh honey, things will get a lot more confusing and frightening" air which I have found doesn't go over so well with young children. When he was tucked into bed and I was downstairs, I cried. A lot. I cried for his angst and I cried for my own because the truth is that I find this very thing to be true at 39 as well. I cried because, sometimes, I feel so ill-equipped to guide a child through this world. I cried because my Girl Scout All About said "FUN" and I don't like irony from my Girl Scout cookies. Did I mention the PMS? Because the universe thinks that I am fairly dense, it sent me a fortune cookie the next day that said, "Wisdom comes from experience, not from age". I find this to be horribly disappointing because I was really hoping for some sort of manual. I don't think it is too much to ask that each year, on our birthdays, we receive a nice little card revealing the mysteries and lessons of the next year in a feel-good rhyme. I could use the help. I was talking to my mother last night and she said, "You have two great kids" and in some sort of weird, openhearted moment, I said, "I don't know mom...I feel like I am making so many mistakes". In some sort of weird, shockingly supportive moment, she responded, "You are doing the best that you can. You are doing much better than I did." Maybe that is what we have to hope for as parents, to simply do better.
There is a quote from Dorothy Allison's "Two or Three Things I Know For Sure" that I have always loved:
"Lord, girl, there's only two or three things I know for sure. Only two or three things. That's right. Of course it's never the same things, and I'm never as sure as I'd like to be."
This has never been more true for me than it is now that I am a parent.
*These are Zeca's words. She often refers to the time I "cried the cake"