Learning to Fly

Our puppy was a spaz this morning which is indicative of how little exercise he got this weekend. While we humans were busy chasing our tails all over the triangle, he spent most of the time at home or in the backyard. Frosty Foofoo Blueberry needs about an 8 mile jaunt to be relaxed. For most of the spring that has not been possible. Four lacrosse teams, two soccer teams, two tennis teams, two jobs, three students, and puberty coming down the pike like a rocket blasting off leaves little time for anything more than homework, carpools, bickering, and laundry.  Add the priestly layer of wedding season and church being short staffed, I would say we are running on fumes.

Yesterday I spent 5 hours in the emergency room with a child looking for an answer to incredible stomach pain. Lately everyone has been getting bad test results so I was grateful they found nothing requiring surgery or more tests. I would like to say this forced time-out put us in a better frame of mind, but it did not. I returned home cold, hungry, and sad, nerves shot from the worry. Waiting for me was a moody pre-teen outraged at having to prolong her shower for the patient to take a bath. And despite being the only child who frolicked with her friends all afternoon, she could not stop there. She screamed about the lack of conditioner waiting for her and lashed out in what could only be labelled a hormonal melt-down. I could not  believe how little concern there was. There wasn’t compassion, not even common decency, let alone love. Poisonous evil was spewed through our halls and hearts. It was as if the Republican debates had been swallowed and regurgitated in teen girl form. Bye-bye phone, bye-bye Beyonce concert, bye-bye sleepovers, bye-bye everything. For two weeks. It will hurt me as much as it hurts her; of that I am sure.

This morning I told her she was loved. I told her she was an important part of this family. I respected the distance she wished to maintain. I can’t say I felt sad when she left this but I do worry. Perhaps school will be a haven for her today, a place where she can rebuild self-confidence and an awareness of group dynamics. Or not. I don’t know. But what I am sure of is the boundary of accountability. And holding firm on “the small stuff” so when the bigger issues like sex and drugs come lurking out, we won’t be virgins on how to discuss these matters.

As I poured over work emails, grateful for the escape into contract minutia, the puppy created a disturbance, barking incessantly at one spot in the yard. I went to see the ruckus, fearful he was yelling at a copperhead or bee. It was a baby robin trying to fly. I removed Frosty from the equation and watched from the window remembering the kindergarten lesson that a mother bird will not help it’s young if a human has touched it. Typing those words, the factuality sounds a bit absurd like most 70s ideas.  In the sunlight, I witnessed two grown robins flutter around the baby, darting back a forth, watching and flying, screeching some important knowledge to inspire or teach this fledgling how to survive outside the nest. The birds directed the baby from afar. I kept thinking one would pick up the baby and fly her home to the nest. But they did not. Just like our house the night before.




8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Christine on April 25, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    I miss hearing your words in my head as I read your truth. You are gifted beyond belief. Please keep writing.


  2. Thank you friend!


  3. Posted by Mary Holly Bigelow on April 25, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    (1) For better or worse, taking away privileges gets the child’s attention. It is often hard on the mother to hold the line, but there comes a day further down the road that you see the results of being consistent (2) These times of strife are when you ask the angels to surround her and keep her safe (3) Hang in there. One day, this’ll all seem like a sweet dream.


  4. Posted by Crabtree, David on April 25, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    Mel….profound and profoundly moving

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. Posted by Mary Snow Crawley on April 25, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    You have an amazing talent for expressing feelings that many are afraid to acknowledge. Continue your writing and your parenting skills are right on target. Love you!


  6. Posted by Sue Avery on April 25, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    A wonderful, honest, heartfelt read, Melanie. Thank you for inviting me into a small part of your life today. You probably already saw this, but your column reminded me of this story that went viral: http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-moms/news/meet-the-self-proclaimed-meanest-mom-in-the-world-w204000.


    • Thx for this. Not surprising, we have similar issues down the street. Always good to know we are not alone. Always good to be reassured setting boundaries and sticking to them is so tough but important. This parenting business is not easy.
      You are a wonderful writer. Thx for sharing.


  7. Posted by Virginia Price on April 27, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks, Melanie, for the discipline of writing. I hope it helps you as we all benefit from your clear expressions of family life. And for the throwback to “I remember those days”, and how often I miss them….


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