Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Trying - Part II

It's happening at the end of our street as we speak. The pond and springhouse are leveled. The barn and house will be disassembled and salvaged rather than bulldozed. But, still, the last of the homestead that spawned my neighborhood will be gone all the same. The deer and the ducks seem unimpressed by the sign touting the arrival of luxury townhomes. Funny. They would probably have a better shot at getting approved for a mortgage than any of the people who will come looking.

I suppose it's easy to look back and think that things used to be simpler. My instinct is to believe that simpler is better but it's probably not true. Once upon a time there was probably a girl who lived in that house and she probably spent her nights listening to the frogs chirping away in the pond and wishing that they could be replaced by the hiss of a highway that would take her away from her dreary life.

The old me, the pre-babies/baby me, seems so superior from this angle. Boy, was she ever high and mighty. She got things done. She went to town council meetings and had opinions about...everything. And what a mother she was going to be!

I was cleaning up my bookmarks folder on our old PC the other day and I came across all of these pages I'd marked before the girls were born. The twin parenting stuff stung a little but, it was the super hippi-fied pages about 'green' baby products and the dangers of disposable diapers that stuck on the jagged edges of my mind. I had such firm ideas about the kind of mother I'd be and I don't think I held to a single one of them.

The contents of that house are sold, baby. The house itself is bulldozed into oblivion. And the absolute impossibility of a return to some alternate version of the past has settled in its place.

I used whatever diapers would stay on her scrawny, little rump. I bought mass-produced toys from mass-produced stores that specialize in mass-produced human-rights violations. I went back to work. I let her eat store-bought baby food.

And it goes on. She's well-versed in Sponge-Bob and the Bieber. On her last day of preschool this year I hit and killed a bird while driving her to McDonald's to celebrate. It bounced across my hood and right up over the roof of the mini-van that we use to transport our family of three. Dead bird. McDonald's. Mini-van.

Things change and we're forced to let go of our expectations. But, with all of the stuff I've let go in the spirit of unburdening myself, I should be able to levitate right up out of this chair. And I might as well seeing as I apparently don't care about much other than getting mine these days.

I look at all of the cheap, plastic crap she's accumulated and I want to tell her how horrible it is. I want to explain that we need to give some stuff up and live with less so that others can have more. But the words can't find my way out of my mouth.

What is it that C doesn't know about horrible things? She's already given up a twin sister, an adequate gestation, a small wedge of the field of vision in her left eye.

Some of her best memories were plowed under before she even saw them.

What can I tell her about sacrifice and acceptance? What impact could a couple of Barbie dolls possibly make on this unholy mess anyway?

Birthdays are supposed to be happy occasions. Dammit.


They say that god says that death shall have no dominion. It sure doesn't feel that way, does it? R's death. My dad's death. T's dad's death. I feel dominated, like I can't ever get a full, deep breath.

According to the Alliance of Tired Bromides (TM), death is supposed to remind us that nothing lasts forever. Except death which, from the perspective of the living, does, in fact, last forever. It doesn't really matter whether you walk or whether you speed along in luxury sedan. This here is a one-way street into the unknown, folks.

But, they're sort of right, aren't they? The end of one set of possibilities necessarily gives birth to another. And,no matter whether you're attached to a plastic toy or an overly rigid set of principles, you're going to have to let go sooner or later.


This Saturday, while the machines remove the last traces of the past from one end of my street, I'll sit at the other swallowing down all of my regret and sadness right along with the Barbies and the cake. There will be games and laughter and a smiling four-year-old. And that's all that really matters for now.


  1. Yes to so much of this. I love that saying, "I was such a great parent before I had kids." Because shoo, I was the best. A teacher, too-double best. And then. Well. And then.

    All that, at least for me, fell by the wayside. Heck when I was pregnant with O I even ate bacon and hotdogs. And now, my child who I swore would never know hotdogs or television or plastic is awash in it all. So be it.

    "Some of her best memories were plowed under before she even saw them." Gosh, yes. That's kind of it right there. She'll never know; he'll never know; we'll never know.

    I read that Wendell Berry story last week--very timely and apropos. Your party is going to be perfectly wonderful for your little girl.

  2. Well after I read this the first time I had to go and have a good sob. Now I'm back. I think it was the same line that Mary Beth has already picked out that completely floored me, some of her best memories were plowed under before she even saw them. Yup. Yup. Yup.

    And sometimes I think that there is nothing that J doesn't know about horrible things and I will spend the rest of my life in a futile attempt to bury it all in a pile of cheap plastic crap. My whole relationship with her is just so bloody complicated. And I was so high and mighty too, with my cloth diapering schemes and yet I too have ended up with my own version of dead birds and McDonalds.

    I think I know what you mean about not feeling the whole 'death having no dominion' thing. That knowledge that it's all a matter of time is creeping up on me.

    And I wondered why I was finding it hard to swallow lately. That will be the regrets and sadness going down won't it? End of August. Dammit indeed.

    Thinking of you and your girls. I hope that C enjoys her party xo

  3. Oh yes, me too. To so much of this. And like Mary-Beth, I even abandoned a lot of the good eating habits in the next two pregnancies.
    The same line jumped out at me. Angus simply has no idea yet of all he's been cheated of. I guess some of those would-be memories will reveal themselves to him in the years to come.
    Thinking of you all so much at this time of year. Both girls, one here, one not. Wishing this was all so different for you.