Posts Tagged ‘Crying’

Of Tears, Trains, and the Spirit of the Radio

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

I went to bed in a cloud of melancholy. I woke up the same. I cried my way to work. (40 minutes is sometimes just the right amount of time to think. Sometimes it is way too much time.) I usually am really good at compartmentalizing, but today I did a terrible job. I ended up crying in the grassy area behind my building, choking sobs back, rubbing at my eyes with my sleeve, pacing, giving myself the pull-it-together talk. I am really good at pulling it together; I was not able to do so this morning.

I somehow made it through the day. I sat in an hour and a half of traffic. I called two friends and two cousins. I left messages for them. I thought of people I desperately wished I could talk to about everything. I didn’t call them. Part of me thought I should. I called my Mama instead. She picked up, just like always.

I came home and I ran 2+ miles. It was my fastest pace in a long time. I must be running from something. It is like a soothing drug. Squats and crunches and planks are not soothing, but I did those too, because I don’t know what else to do with myself.

It was my turn to do kid duty. I took T. and her friend, M., to eat. It was about 8 pm. They were excited to tell me about their day. They gushed about Cars 3, which evidently has a female protagonist. I guess I will have to see it now, despite the fact that I wanted to shoot myself over all the Lightning McQueen stuff R. loved as a little boy. I miss that age now. I miss Mater, that old goofball.

The girls talked about how to pick a college. (My take was go in state, try to get some scholarships, and avoid loans, if possible, but mostly to just learn everything they can now, and make the best grades they can, and seek out the things that interest them. That would give them options, and the rest would fall into place, and that not everyone decides to college and that is okay too, but it is important to give yourself the option.)

Then we talked about financial security, and about how money isn’t about new shoes or how big your house is. It’s about freedom. Money sometimes = freedom. I also had this talk with my first love’s mother, right after we broke up, in maybe 1993. She liked me, I guess. She invited me to lunch. She gave me Gloria Steinem’s “Revolution From Within.” I may have frightened the girls when I told them that being financially stable was important for women, so that they never had to stay with an *abusive man. That they could always take care of themselves. Sorry, Megan and Andy – #notaprofessionalguidancecounselor

I talked to the waiter about his breakup with his boyfriend. He is maybe 21? I told him he’d live, but it might hurt like hell and feel like death.

We paid the check and walked out into the near-dark. It was cool for June, and we sat and listened to the quiet on main street for a minute. Tiller ran around and up and down the ramp and stairs with her arms out like an airplane. She laughed as she ran. She snorts when she laughs.

The train track signal lights started flashing and the crossing bars went down. The girls yelled, “Train!” and we walked to our car, next to the tracks. I gave both a leg up onto the hood of the car, and they sat on top under the quarter moon and we waited for the engine. It parked and we sat. (I stood. I am too old to jump onto a hood and not fall immediately back off and the whole patio of the restaurant was watching; I only made one attempt. I am going to practice that, though.)

And then it started. Just a single engine, alone, pulling no cars behind it. The girls waved. The driver waved back, not 15 feet away. He blew the whistle. Twice. We all clapped and cheered. The crossing opened back up and the bells went off. We got back in the car, now in the dark. We rolled the windows down.

Rush’s “Spirit of the Radio” was on. I’m not a big Rush fan, but I talked to them about Neal Peart and we rolled the windows down and opened the sunroof and they both put their faces out the windows as I turned onto the main road, as we drove past each streetlight, in and out of alternating darkness and light.

And somehow, at that moment, I realized the day had turned out alright. We would be alright.

* Hypothetical. My husband is not, nor has he ever been, abusive. He is the person I respect most in the world.

Of Tears, Trains, and the Spirit of the Radio

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

The Things We Don’t Say to Our Children

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

I went to pick up Rollie today from Mommies’ Morning Out. When I got there, he was pouting, and when I told him it was time to go, he threw a fit. Both the teacher and the aide looked concerned, and the aide said, “We have Lunch Bunch today and he heard the kids talking about it and then saw them pull out their lunches, and he got really upset.” Lunch Bunch is this thing where you pay extra for your kid to stay there from noon til 1pm, thus giving moms an extra hour of freedom. I told Rollie he needed to put on his jacket, so that we could go see the doggie in the car (Quint always rides with Matilda and I to pick up Rollie). He began crying pitiful, tortured tears of sorrow at not being able to eat with his classmates.

I felt the heat of tears welling up in my own eyes, and struggling to fight them back, I clutched Rollie to me with one arm (the other occuped with Tiller) and held him to me as he struggled. I managed to get his jacket on him, and grabbed his hand to take him to the car, Matilda still in my other arm, and Rollie struggling all the while. He managed to break free, screaming “I want Miss M____” (his teacher) and threw himself into her legs. She picked him up and offered to take him to the car, but i declined and said it was okay, he needed to learn that he couldn’t stay.

I knew that i had about five seconds to make my way out of that classroom before I burst into tears, and I managed to make it out the door and around the corner before the dam burst. Tears began flowing freely down my face as I struggled to get the keys out of my pocket and open the van doors. I fought them back and then realized it was no use and began angrily wiping them away as soon as they fell, finished strapping both kids into their carseats, and got into the driver’s seat. There is a point when tears come, at least for me, when I know there is no turning back, that once i give in to them, they will not stop. Everything in me wanted to lay my arm across the steering wheel and sob my guts out right there in the church parking lot, with all the well-meaning do-gooders coming in and out with kids in tow, but for a proud non-cryer like me, there is nothing more horrific than the thought of being comforted by church ladies with their well-meaning pats on the back, and their concerned looks, and, God forbid, their attempts at giving me a hug.

I had to get the hell out of there.

I drove to the end of the parking lot, and knew I was in the clear, as it is one way during pickup time. As I rounded the corner out of the lot, the tears came on full force, and Rollie said wonderingly from the back:

“Mama, what happened?”

“Mama’s sad.”

“Why you sad?”

“Because I love you.”

Great, i think to myself. Now he thinks it’s his fault.

The tears came harder, and became sobs, with my voice sounding to me like someone else’s, coming forth of its own volition. I just gave in to it, and I cried the whole way to the light, where I sat and sobbed and snuffled and sniffled, and wiped snot on my sleeve and rubbed my eyes roughly, and did all sorts of undignified shit until I got the left turn signal, where I wiped away the tears, turned left and headed straight for McDonald’s drive-thru. Sometimes your son just deserves the chicken nuggets, with the fries rather than the fucking killjoy apple slices, and with chocolate milk instead of white milk (the annoying term for regular milk that drive-thru employees in the ‘hood call it. Those of us with an education call it “regular milk.”) Sometimes his Mama deserves to say, “FUCK WEIGHT WATCHERS. I WANT A NUMBER 2 VALUE MEAL, PLEASE.” That’s just the way of the world.

Rollie says, “Mama, you like chicken?”

“Yes, Rollie, I like chicken, but i am going to have a hamburger.”

“Tiller badiller likes chicken. She not like chocolate milk. She likes regular (yes!) milk.”

“Yes, Rollie, she likes regular milk and chicken and french fries.”

“Mama, french fries make you happy?”

“Yes, Rollie, they make me very happy.”


“Yes, Rollie.”

“Why you cry in the car?”

“Because I’m happy. Sometimes mamas get sad. Sometimes they are happy.”

Sometimes you don’t tell little boys that you are crying because you are sorry that the house hasn’t sold, so we live 30 minutes from the school and if he stayed for Lunch bunch, he and matilda would fall asleep in the car, and then there would be no nap, and how could i have the silence necessary to figure out the budget in a vain attempt to find some miraculous way of allowing me to stay home with them longer? Sometimes you don’t tell him that even if we lived five minutes from the school, we probably couldn’t afford the Lunch Bunch, and that he is never going to get to do Lunch Bunch with his new friends, because in less than two months, we are going to have to yank him out of that school and put him somewhere that will take him all day, and hopefully it will be somewhere that will also be able to take his sister, but it probably won’t, and so they won’t see each other all day long, and we will have to figure out how to get him to one place, and her to another and me to an office, and I fucking hate offices and their fucking fluorescent lights, and I hate that i will have to get up two hours or more earlier than I do now and that I hate that I won’t be able to see him at lunchtime, or drive him through McDonald’s, or yell at him to stop trying to hold hands with his sister, because she doesn’t want to hold hands right now and that is why she is crying. I hate that I will get back two tired, over-stimulated kids, who will argue and cry over dinner, and I will be tired and not even have time to play with them or just sit and watch a cartoon on the couch with both of them in my lap. That I hate that now I have them from 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. every day and that the times that I don’t have them are like magic, not torture, but that will change, and it will all be torture and the maybe two hours i have with them every day will be sweet torture, too. I don’t tell him that I will think a hundred times a day how much i miss him annoying the shit out of me with wanting me to build the choochoo tracks and give him snacks, and how much i will fucking hate those people who give him his snacks every day when he should be trying to get them out of my fridge at home with me trying to stop him. I don’t tell him that I feel like Tiller is completely getting the shaft, that he got me for over three years, and she barely got me for over one year. I don’t tell him that I am scared of the people who will be talking to my baby, who is just learning to speak, and who knows what kind of frightening grammar they might teach her? Or that I read to her in the morning, and before quiet time, and before bedtime, and it is our special time, and we have a routine and she is warm and she laughs when I nuzzle her ear as I whisper into them some of the words.

“Mama,” Rollie says, “why are you crying?”

“Because I love you, and I am happy, and I am sad.”

I don’t tell him that it is because my heart feels like it is about to break.