I’ve got some good news and some bad news.
The good news is, we’re landing.
The bad news is, we’re crash landing.
I could hear our friend’s son’s voice quoting this line from the movie Madagascar this March as we hit the landing strip in Rum Cay, Bahamas. It was the five of us Mullens plus our pilot and the plane was small and well, snug.
Last night as I sat on our steamy porch backed by the tunes of the cicadas (which I’ve tried desperately to block out with headphones and loud music with no success) I couldn’t help but hear Jason’s voice again.
We aren’t in the Bahamas this time and we’re not even on a plane. We’re just living, breathing and parenting children who are working mightily to grow up.
My sister texted me this afternoon to tell me how tired she was of her 3 year old.
I texted her back lamenting that our 17 year old wouldn’t be joining us for any of our family vacations.
We’re both in hard seasons. Kids who won’t leave us alone and kids who can’t wait to be on their own. Kids who don’t want us near at all.
I’m sitting in the doctor’s office and my son is slumped back into the leather chair, head tipped into the wall, eyes closed. He’s willing away the doctor who won’t give up on asking him questions. I’m wondering what it would be like to just turn into a mist, swirl away and disappear. My god, I wish I could just vanish. The doctor’s annoyed and trying hard to get him to respond.
No one wants to be here.
I feel like I’m piloting this plane with no lessons or instructions and keeping us in the air is a constant state of panic. More papers to sign, registrations to fill out, fees I forgot to pay, someone’s school schedule that need to be changed. Kids mad at me, tracking down the others, monitoring screen time that has turned into about 12 hours a day by the end of the summer.
When we lived on Pleasure Rd. the kids would just play and play in our backyard. Plastic pools, sidewalk chalk, scooters and popsicles would fill our days. Nancy would peek out her back door and say, “Your kids are amazing, they just never seem to be bored.” I’m pretty sure I took credit for that and it makes me laugh now. They were just happy kids who loved to play. It’s what they knew how to do. I sat at the table with tea and a book and watched it happen around me thinking I had created this magical space. But it was all them. They were magic.
Life feels like crash landing a lot these days. Midlife, teenagers, middle school. My landing gear is no where to be found. I’m not at the table in the backyard anymore. I’m hiding in my bedroom or drinking wine while cooking meals people don’t want eat or won’t be home for. I’m looking around and wondering, how does one do this well? Why am I so bad at this? And dammit, why is everyone looking at me thinking I have answers?
Will we ever get our magic back? Or is it time to stop looking back and face another way?
Maybe there’s something new for us all up ahead.