Monday, May 31, 2010

The Hardest Part of Love...

I read once that "making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." The website thinkexist.com attributes the quote to Elizabeth Stone. I can't quite figure out who Elizabeth Stone is for sure -- she's probably Elizabeth Stone the author, but who knows? Maybe Elizabeth Stone the photographer, Elizabeth Stone the archaeologist (concentrating on the Mesopotamian) or Elizabeth Stone the marathon runner cut loose with a great bon mot one day. At any rate...

This week-end, my heart was in a bit of a batting slump. It's hard when your heart gets up to bat and everyone says "Whoa, it's Allison's heart -- back up! Home run!". It makes my heart tense up and forget to rely on its muscle memory and suddenly what usually happens smoothly and gracefully turns all choppy and awkward. My heart struck out for one entire game. Fortunately, my heart then pitched a shut-out inning, and by the next day my heart was back in fine form, pitching like a badass, cracking balls into the outfield and tearing up its knee sliding into third.

My heart is a ten-year-old boy who adores baseball and has really great instincts for it. He was in a tournament this week-end, and his pitching was great, but he was psyching himself out badly every time he got up to bat, and the more it happened the more it kept happening. It's so hard to watch when you know there's really nothing you can do. After the second game on Saturday, I sat with him in the bleachers for a bit and told him about when I used to do high-level piano exams and recitals, and if I started to think about it too much, I wouldn't let my fingers just do their job and everything would go horribly wrong. I told him that his muscles know how to hit a baseball with a bat, and he just had to relax and remember why he loves baseball. His next game was on Sunday, and he got a hit every at-bat -- but I don't take any credit for that.

One thing that's kind of saved me from a vast number of cerebro-vascular incidents is that at one point I had to sit myself down and give myself a bit of a talking-to. Angus was in grade one and he had forgotten to take a book to school that he needed for a story-telling thing he was doing that we'd been practicing for weeks. I had put it in his bag the night before, but my husband took it out for a quick run-through in the morning and then forgotten to put it back in (notice how smoothly and unobtrusively I blame the husband?). When I saw it lying on the table, I felt faint. I immediately saw myself in grade one, realizing I didn't have what I needed and feeling that great wave of doom close over me. I didn't know what to do -- call his teacher, drive immediately to the school with the book, call my husband and scream expletives at him? Then, in a hot revelatory rush of insight, I realized I couldn't do this. I couldn't live all of his mistakes and humiliations and failures as if they were my own. I could do my best to help and guide and commiserate, but if I kept on like this, not only was it not any good to him, I might literally not survive his elementary school years.

The world didn't end that day, for either of us. His teacher said he could do it the next day. The next day I put a note in his agenda saying "Angus's Daddy took out the book yesterday so they could practice and forgot to put it back in. Angus's Daddy wants you to know that he's very, very sorry." I meant it as a joke, but at our first parent-teacher interview she mentioned that I seemed quite anxious about things and I should probably try to relax. I blamed it on the fact that English wasn't her first language, but really -- she's not wrong. And I'm working on it.

Fortunately, my heart is also a seven-year-old girl who loves to leap out into the sunshine waving her freshly-sunscreened limbs around yelling "ha HA sun! I have foiled your diabolical plan!" So there's that.

13 comments:

Rachel Cotterill said...

They sound like cute kids :) I'm glad he relaxed into the baseball.

the mombshell said...

You are a wise one my dear.

Mary Lynn said...

It is so hard to watch and to try to figure out when to step in to help and when to just sit tight and see what happens. I struggle with that.

Glad he got his game back on Sunday.

BeachMama said...

I agree that there is a fine line between doing it all for them and letting them figure it out. I go with, if it's my(Hubby or I) fault than I run to the rescue, if it's J's fault then I let him figure it out.

Glad baseball came together for you this weekend.

Pamela said...

I struggle with the whole helping vs. guiding thing too. It's just so hard to let go!

Amber said...

Eve sounds like the coolest kid EVER.

And I'm pretty sure I need to relax, too. Although I felt somewhat vindicated at kindergarten orientation to see that several parents were more high-strung than me. Petty? Yes, but I take my victories where I can get them.

Mom of the Perpetually Grounded said...

Bravo!!! I struggle with this every day because They Are my heart. Awesome young lady you have there as well: )

The Mayor! said...

Awwwww! I'm glad you built on that, because it IS a horrible feeling to be so tied to their failures & successes sometimes! I too will see the item left behind for school, & feel sick to my stomach for them catching trouble or missing out somehow....& I too will always figure out a way to blame dad!!

Hit the salon, find a smashing dress & matching purse, & head on over to Crazy Town to get your newest hardware....& I promise, this trophy is not a bobblehead like our kids get nowadays LOL!

Kelly said...

Isn't it crazy how so many of our little ones suffer with anxiety? We do lots of pep talks and bear hugs to help our guy get through those self-defeating moments.

And it is so refreshing to be balanced out by a free spirit who just enjoys what life has to offer.

Julie said...

man, i don't know how i am not going to step up to the bat and bat for the jb when he is having a bad day. but at the moment the struggle is pulling his pants up after using the potty. it's an epic battle every time.

ok, what i want to know is whether or not those were eve's own words. because that is too cool and obviously a very large chip off the momma's block!

NoisyBluebird said...

Nice job Mama Yoda, O-bee-1, Mr. Tamagotchi (wasn't that the name of the guy from Karate kid?). Seriously, you really struck a cord with me here. I've heard that quote before but I think it was in a movie. I've never forgotten it because that's how I often feel about my children. It's so hard not to shelter them or make life easier for them especially when they're the type that learn best by doing. In the end though, I'm sure they end up more prepared to deal with the challenges of life that they'll face on their own. This is of course if they make it to adulthood without falling off the top of the play structure or getting hit by a racecar while they're not wearing a helmet or accidentally eating a peanut.

theycallmejane said...

"Then, in a hot revelatory rush of insight, I realized I couldn't do this. I couldn't live all of his mistakes and humiliations and failures as if they were my own."

So very, very wise!

suzicate said...

Your heart is a good heart, a mama heart filled with love.