In a world where emotions change as frequently as the weather, today is sunny. I don't know why. Sadness and hatred have signed a temporary peace accord, allowing their epic battle inside my heart and mind to go unfought for an as yet undetermined length of time.
Smartypants and Smiley play, as they should. More and more often, they play together. Sibling rivalries develop hourly, and with each whine or tear I grow increasingly fearful of the long years ahead. I hope I can be the father they need. I hope I can keep them out of trouble. I hope they talk to me and listen to me and share their dreams with me. They'll never remember the happy times. They won't remember Christmas morning with their family together around the tree opening presents. They won't remember mommy and daddy and them laying in bed on a Saturday morning watching television. I hate that they won't remember.
But we move on. Life doesn't stop. Smartypants loves preschool. Every day when we drop her off, Smiley cries, unwilling to return home without her big sister. In the afternoons, I turn on music and we all dance together. They love to sing. Smartypants makes up her own songs. Smiley, not quite in rhythm with the music, walks in circles repeating "ashes to ashes to ashes to ashes" until she falls down and laughs.
All I want is for them to be happy. They don't deserve any of this. It's not fair. But I do what I can to shield them from it. Sometimes I lie. Sometimes I tell the truth. Smartypants doesn't understand, but she's slowing realizing things are different. Sometimes she cries. Sometimes she feigns indifference. She won't let me sleep on mommy's side of the bed or use mommy's pillow. She asks when mommy and I will have another baby, because then she and Smiley will BOTH be big sisters. Each time another question comes, my heart explodes and the tears return. It's a horrible, rotten experience, watching my precious little girl learn how awful the world can be at such a young age. But we'll get through it. Most of the time she's perfectly content. And Smiley is ever the demon, happy to stand on the kitchen table or rip fur off the cat's back or jump haphazardly off anything she manages to climb. We all have our moments, but theirs are few and far between. Someday they'll understand what's happened. Someday they'll know. For now, they need to be happy. After all, they're children.
Thanks to everyone for all the kind words. Sorry I don't write as often as I should. The mind isn't working quite the way it once did, besieged, as it is, by wretched and painful thoughts. For those who don't like to leave public comments, I've added an email link in the top right corner. Write me anytime. I've had people from a dozen countries and almost every state in the union visit this site. I wish more of you said hello.
This post, like most of the older parenting posts on this site, is from the at-home parenting blog I wrote from 2004-2007.