Oh, week three of the school year and we are still finding our way. As the public schools strike and I try not to cry every time I drive by the picket lines, my family has been getting used to the new stresses of our new schedule. I won’t bore you with the details. But I will say I am taking a parenting class with the awesome Meghan Leahy. That means yesterday I held my tongue as my daughter raged at me.
I didn’t hold it gracefully. In fact, we both stomped away from each other. But I remembered to not keep fighting mostly because I took an online parenting class while eating lunch. And then after I stomped away, I was quiet until I decided to email something nice to my daughter. And an hour later she emailed an apology. Dude, we are both growing up. Good timing! And then, we spent one glorious hour together that afternoon, joking, laughing, finding our way back to each other.
Ah, school year, we are going to make it through your stresses intact, I swear it. We got this! Here’s a poem about yesterday.
Wait: The Christmas cactus’s edgy arms don’t droop.
Energy lives there; holds a promise no one sees.
Someday the pinky-red blooms will blossom.
Mimics the way the teen texts an apology.
Hard won, this growing up.
Hard won, me being an adult,
giving her an out with my silence
even if my silence is filled with my stomping away.
I hand her acceptance.
She gifts me her quiet words, typed.
Later we do our old teasing dance in the parking lot.
She reaches out to give me a side hug.
We are always moving backwards, edging forward, jumping away
and coming together in glorious love.
So many moments don’t flower now.
But wait, oh wait, cut your veggies with all that sadness
and grief at the hardness of it all
until the phone trumpets news from your girl’s fingertips:
So simple. So many years in the making,
Your growth. Her growth.
Always behind it that dance you do together.
The love never lost
in parking lots all the time.
No Christmas cactus blooms necessary.
-Nancy Schatz Alton