Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Letting Go -- Lessons for the Whole Family

Well as is appropriate for the week of the darkening moon, this week has been all about letting go. During these days of my own menses we have practised the art of opening our hearts and hands and letting everything that needs to leave, leave. It's been very very difficult for me, emotionally, but there is great change afoot, and we are all growing fast, this week, both emotionally and spiritually.

Mary Anne's Memorial
Instead of circus school on Wednesday, we all attended the memorial service of Ginger's mother. Ginger is my brother's partner, and the children's aunt. Ginger's mother, Mary Anne, was unexpectedly diagnosed with liver cancer in the summer, and deteriorated much faster than even the doctors predicted. She was young, and her daughters much younger; I can't imagine having to let go of my own mother in that time of my life. But Ginger has had to, and although we've been utterly useless to her grieving, and the necessary sorting out of her mother's affairs, we attended the memorial to at least offer emotional support to Ginger and Adrian. We spent a very moving afternoon on Burnaby Lake, with many beautiful, sorrowful, and also happy moments. It was a long wait for the children, but they fared well, and were rewarded by apple-pears from Mary Anne's tree, afterward. It was a big thing for them to witness and begin to understand the mourning process of direct family. It was big for me to see my brother caring so deeply for his beloved.

Goodbye, Mama!
Rhiannon has never needed me at preschool (why would she, when her own Nana is there all the time?!). But last Thursday Taliesin began to come into his own, at school.

He spent the entire morning doing the grade ones' work with them: printing words and numbers, reading, etc. And he proved himself to be quite up to the task. In fact, he was proud enough to pop, if I may say so! At lunch he ate well, and then after lunch the group was read to, and asked to draw and write a bit in their journals about the book. Taliesin very much enjoyed the drawing, but just ran out of steam, half way into the second word of his journal entry. And why not? He'd already printed, sounded out, and spelled at least fifteen or twenty words that morning. So I suggested to the teacher (who doesn't teach there in the morning and didn't know how much he'd already done) that perhaps he was getting a bit burnt out, and we decided to stop. Then I asked if I could leave him to go get Rhiannon from daycare.


So I left. Just like that. And when I came back, Taliesin was engrossed in a French lesson, and didn't notice me at all. So I stayed out for a while. Eventually I went in and stayed with him for a few minutes, then asked if it would be all right for me to leave, until the end of class.

"Yep! That's OK!" He said, cheerily.

For half an hour I stood around outside, watching the deer eat fallen apples and wondering whether my being there is as much for him as it is for me.

Taliesin also permitted me to leave for most of his Friday class, on the promise that Auntie Bree would be returning with me to see his school. We've made plans for him to try going alone, this Thursday, and we'll see how it goes. As of this evening, he still thinks it fine!

Goodbye, Nagging Emily
I've been completely embroiled in a struggle with my own emotions, this past couple of months. As most readers are probably unaware, my father has Parkinson's disease. It seems he now also has a (probable) pinched nerve in his spine, which is causing him to lose his equilibrium. And fall down. Many times. And the MRI which will presumably lead to corrective surgery was not even scheduled until November, although as of today he managed to get it pushed into late October.

It's not enough that he's trying to continue running his toy store in this condition, and that my sister is running herself thin trying to help him. But it also happens to be teacher-conference season, as well as the beginning of... Christmas shopping season! I don't think I need to explain what that means for the owner, buyer, manager, driver, display person and toilet cleaner of a small but healthy toy store.

So I, in my uselessness, have been trying to convince him not to do so much: NOT to do all the deliveries and border-pick-up-trips himself, NOT to drive to the Kootnays through the night to set up a display for a teachers conference in the beginning of October freezing; NOT to take my sister with him to ANY displays, when neither of them is well enough at the moment to actually set up the displays... but he didn't manage to run the toy store for 30 years by taking my advice. He did it on shear determination and a huge amount of faith, and after all, who am I to whine at him about his choices?

I'm scared. I'm terrified that the last time I see him will be quickly for lunch before he leaves for the Kootnays, or worse yet, that he and my sister will suffer injuries worse than death out there on the midnight highways, or just simply wear themselves down to mere smears of human beings, all for the store's wellbeing.

But I can't function, in this paranoid state. So I've had to do the only thing I know how to do: I've resigned myself to not thinking about it; not talking to him about it; not sitting at home crying about it when there is nothing I can do to help. And of course all of this is impossible, but I'm doing my best. And it's a learning process all the way: How to Butt Out, as my father himself puts it. And that's certainly something I need to learn more about.

What Schedule???
Remember that post: "Why We Have a Schedule"? Well, we don't, anymore. (Oh yes, I told you there were lots of lessons learned this week -- this is one of them.)

This week began with Taliesin telling me he wanted to just stay home and have people do things for him. Stupidly, I rejected his idea, because we had too much to do. And then I let the schedule slide... and slide... and slide. Mama missed 2 ballet classes; the kids missed the town adventure that would usually replace swimming during the waning moon, and we missed circus... we missed the Earth Walk, even, while we spent the day at the ferry terminal, protesting and selling clown-noses. We still kept our school, etc. commitments, but we let the week take us where it would, and quite frankly didn't get nearly enough hiking done, but otherwise managed even more than usual.

So who needs a schedule?! We'll keep the one we have, but it's getting very very flexible. And that's OK! Good, even! I'm learning to trust our direction in learning. We're learning everywhere, all the time, and it feels exhilarating!

Letting Go of my Baby
So after all of this... Rhiannon turned 3.
Phew -- I remember those little forms I used to fill in at Family Place: I'd circle the -3 for Rhiannon and the 3+, for Tali. We stopped attending family place nearly two years ago, now, but I can't help thinking that I am now a mother of only greater-than-three children. No more babies!!

We took Annie to the Space Centre for her birthday, as per her request, of course. And I was happy to see that her favourite part was the "spinning dots" -- there is still a little bit of infant in my little girl!

And then we came home to curl into our beds, me happy for the joy of my daughter's birthday, and sad for the irony of having breasts that still make milk -- for naught.

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