My entire existence has funneled into my right ear, which is still broken. My entire existence is a constant buzz of white noise, a muffled void. My entire existence is the sound of pressing your ear to a seashell to hear the ocean and it goes on and on and on. My entire existence is the sand behind my eyelids, the dry sound of blinking. My entire existence is the cramp near my right shoulder blade. My entire existence is in my bed, pillows punched and sheets rumpled by an onslaught of dreams and strange images, of a kid who couldn't sleep until she was furrowed into the circle of my arms. My entire existence is 4:30 a.m., blinking into the darkness, wondering if I should just give up on the idea of sleep altogether, two of the three most beloved people in my life snoring peacefully in the bed, taking up the whole space.
I listen to this song over and over again, non-stop, and this is no exaggeration. I am struck by the intimacy of these three men shoulder to shoulder, making something together that sounds so lovely. I'm not musically inclined at all -- never played an instrument or sung in a choir -- and I wonder how it feels to bring three voices together in such a way, a seamless blend of sound, a perfect piece of it. That kind of connection has to be amazing, doesn't it? To join together that way? Having no real insight into the process of making music, I can only guess, but it seems like you would be tied together in a different way, a deeper way, to sing together like that. To sing like that would be to share a little bit of your soul with someone else. And to lift each other up to something higher, better. To elevate the ordinary -- a quiet, small room -- into something extraordinary: music, its basic elements. Voice and instrument and people who care enough to put it all together.
I think we all chase that feeling in some way, don't we? And if not, shouldn't we?
A few days ago Mad was standing on her step stool, brushing her teeth, and I was leaning in the doorway, keeping her company. She reached out and kicked at me. Her foot made contact with my outstretched leg, but there was no force behind it. For a split second a think it's an act of aggression, but instead of reacting that way, I reach out and push back at her with my foot, gently, and I am rewarded when her whole face lights up. She does it back, immediately, delighted. She's instigated a game. That's all she wanted. A connection. This is a parenting victory, for now, and I relish it.
Later Mad wants to play it again and Violet decides to get in on it. We are sitting on Mad's bad and we are play-kicking each other, and then Violet jumps in. She lifts her foot and before I can react, she slams her foot into my face, knocking my glasses to the floor and leaving a red splotch on my cheek.
This was not an act of aggression, this is Violet not understanding the rules of the game and not really caring one way or the other where her foot lands when she kicks it out. And with my hand over my face I exclaim, "VIOLET. WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?" and she immediately starts sobbing, tears pouring down her face. She launches herself at me, her face a wall of misery. "I didn't know I didn't know I'm so sorry," she cries over and over, and I am at a loss. She knows not to kick someone in the face. Doesn't she? I don't know.
She cries to avoid confrontation, I think.
I don't know. I collect my glasses and calm myself down and tell her she does know not to kick someone in the face and that it isn't okay and she just sobs and sobs and sobs.
This is a parenting fail, I think, but I don't know what else to do.
My entire existence is the darkness at 7:30 this morning, walking down the hall to Violet's room to tell her goodbye. Her perfect little body is stretched out in the bed and she turns her head and blinks. "Goodbye, mama," she says sleepily. My entire existence is Mad smiling softly, pretending to be asleep when I kiss her goodbye. My entire existence is my husband who springs out of bed to get the trash out to the curb on garbage day. The sun is just rising now and off I go.