Thursday, December 30, 2010

De la casa del padre

She comes in reeking of
country funk and old couches
dirt skimming her fingernails
a tick crawling around in her hair

Forgive me for being irrational
but this is not the way i left her

After i've coaxed her into
two tonight, baby
greens for dinner
plenty of cream rinse for her hair
we lie down

She tells me
she loves him
more than me
that she wishes she were dreaming
so she'd wake up back there.


Jack said...

OMG, Nicole, the pain dripping off this post is palpable. It makes me wish we were friends in the traditional sense, so I could give you a hug, and you could accept it in the way it was meant. Oh, well, a cyber-hug, then.

Of course, this could just be you posting an evisceral piece of poetry, but that isn't what I think I've learned about your blog in the last few months; this stuff is real. So, in the hope of lifting your spirits, I'm going to remind you of something you already know intellectually, but that may skew the perspective when it's in your face, and in your life.

Even in homes where both parents live in love, each has a role that comes without conscious thought. Generally, two generations of feminism notwithstanding, Mom is the nurturer, and teacher of life's daily lessons. Her (your) role is to deliver the child safely into tomorrow, hopefully with a bit of added knowledge that will help her along the path. The time He spends with the child is more primal. He preps her for the rough-and-tumble of escaping the sabre-toothed cat, and warring with the neighboring tribe. Much of their interaction takes the form of play, and role-playing, and giving the child as much freedom to explore as she can handle. Not surprisingly, most children of Rebelangel's age would rather explore a meadow, climb a tree, or catch tadpoles than to be told to clean their room, fold their clothes, brush their teeth, and eat a plate of healthy vegetables.

My daughter, who is about your age, considered herself a Daddy's Girl all the time she was growing up. She still does; my Father's Day card last year was a long dissertation on that subject. We still play together, but when she gets with her mom (which is a matter of walking into another room), they have a powerful feminine relationship that I can't approach. None of which changes the fact that I love them both in very different ways.

But a child of six-ish may not have the sophistication to recognize all the nuances of these different types of love and caring. With them it's more likely yes-or-no, and even if she does see it, she is not likely to have the language skills to describe what she might feel. She has been suddenly moved without transition from a kid's fantasy world of unsupervised play to Mom's structured now-it's-time-for-this-beneficial-activity daily routine, and any child is likely to prefer the former, even if it isn't in her own best interest. This is exacerbated by the fact that when both parents aren't present all the time, mitigating each other's influence, all the child sees are the extremes, and her reaction can be pretty extreme, as well. I guess my somewhat pedestrian conclusion to this is, "This, too, shall pass." Don't beat yourself up over it. Just keep loving. She knows, even if her social skills don't allow her to say it right now.

Let me know if you would like another view on this, and I will ask my daughter if she will talk to you. Before The Disaster, she was a preschool teacher, with degrees and certs in child development, and English, so she not only knows more about this than I do, but can write better as well. Meanwhile, know that she doesn't love him more, just differently, and persevere; it does get better . . .

samantha claire said...

Beautifully written.

The division of love and labor and weekends and holiday and lives. You spoke my heart's worst fear, even though my head knows that duality is a myth worth overcoming.

xo said...

Oh, how I can relate to this - the to-do list when my child returns back to my care: peel off the too-small clothes, untangle the rat's nest in the hair, clean the smell of stale smoke off of her, hold her close, re-establish the rules.

Thankfully, after a couple of years, she now says "I love you and Daddy the same" but it took lots to get us to this point. Look for the signs she's missing you. Mine drags her feet, clings, needs help doing everything, in the 24 hrs leading up to 'transition day'. This is her way to saying "Mummy, I'll miss you." So I hold her closer, but push her to do what she's capable of, tell her that it must be hard to have two homes (we have a 50/50 split) and she agrees.

There are no easy answers. To parenting, to life. We're all just making it up as we go along, whether we admit it or not.

Much peace,

LUX said...

From the moment of birth, being a mother is a lesson on learning to let go, a the while holding their hand.

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