Thursday, October 9, 2014

Coming together when we're falling apart.

Kids grow up. News flash! They become people, with minds and feelings and needs. I knew this, I did, I just don't think I was prepared for it quite yet, not at six.

Sam has always been my heart and soul and this year hasn't been easy on our relationship. He's growing up so fast while I've been grasping desperately to my footing and climbing, I finally feel like I'm climbing, but I'm fighting for my independence right along with Sam. Not from my kids or my family which I am more comfortable immersed in, but from the infant stage, where I can now go and work for a morning, or a day and feel perfectly comfortable leaving the kids with Paul or with our nanny.

He's going through things, learning to read, staying awake through first grade, riding the bus two hours a day, making friends, making decisions, finding enough time to play and spend with his dad and keep his stuff away from his brother and sister and become his own person and on and on and on. I'm going through stuff, too. Learning to live in India, learning to raise kids in India, to be a successful mom, a successful wife, a successful photographer, a healthy person a good friend and good person. 

I used to know everything about Sam or I felt like I did. I knew when he last ate and who he played with and when he used the bathroom. Now I don't and that is ok, but that doesn't come without a little stretch of the heart. I felt the tugs of it this summer, the Braxton Hicks of the eventual birth of a baby into a boy.  

We haven't hung out much lately, Sam and I. He doesn't tell me much about school and I am not great at prying it out of him. He walks in the door cranky, hungry and exhausted. We eat dinner, we do baths and the kids drop into their beds just before I do. I've missed Sam lately and it has been no fault of his and no fault of mine, even though I can't find anyone else to blame except life's bends and curves so I blame myself. 

I had the best mom ever. She worked full time as a teacher and she was still the best mom ever. Most days I don't think I hold a candle to the job she did with us and I am home with the kids,  for the kids all day long. I'm sure it all adds up, but math has never been my strong suit. I see in pictures and shapes and some days I struggle to make this photograph pretty. My mom's 40% of the day with us was 100% of her effort. My 100% of the day with my kids is spread between 24 hours and looks a little thin and runny to me most days.  I have even less of the day with Sam and need to kick it up right as our family is trying to wind down and that makes for a struggle. I'm trying, though you guys, I'm trying so hard. I am a perfectionist and I am a realist and I often can't make the two meet up. I want to be the best I can be without being to much without them thinking they have to be perfect, too. I want to let them swim without their life jackets, close to my ship, but be able to grab them quickly if they are in trouble. I want to turn off my beacon intermittently and make sure they can find their way home if I'm not there, but I don't want them to get lost or fail. I was so tired the first six months here that it became easier to just float along, but that is how families fall gently apart. Which we refuse to.

This week is India week at Sam's school.  Yesterday our housekeeper came early to care for Clementine and to take Peter to school. She knew how important it was for me to go and watch Sam's program and not be distracted. So I jumped on Sam's bus with him yesterday morning - for the first time - and rode the long ride to school. He let me sit by him and we talked a little. He wore the kurta and pants I bought him for his school performance and he posed for pictures outside the front door. When we arrived at school he ran through the turnstiles of the school and down the hall through the crowd to his classroom. I had forgotten my badge to buzz myself in and he forgot he was going to help me in. I tried to keep up once I made it through, I spotted him down the hall hanging up his backpack, then running off to recess. He saw me, turned back for just a second and said "Bye mom! I have recess." I waved goodbye, but just before he got to the end of the corridor he turned back toward me, running. He hugged me goodbye at the door to his classroom where I'd stood watching him run away. He hugged me so hard I almost fell over. Then he started to walk away, but came back and hugged me again and then once again. He grabbed my face in his two hands and kissed me, told me he loved me and then ran off. 

He bounded in for his program and sat a few rows in front of me. He danced the most beautiful dance and sang nearly all the words in Tamil, even though none of the other children were singing. He caught my eye during the dance a time or two. Eyes as bright as the stage lights, the colors of tiny saris and kurtas. 

After the show he waved me up to take his picture in the courtyard with his class. He waited for me and held my hand. When the photos were taken and the kids headed back to class he grabbed me again, like I was about to jump on an airplane back to reality, but I didn't. 

Last night he read to me from his "Monster Trucks!" I Can Read book. He read words like "exhaust" and "dangerous." He told me all about the rest of his day. I told him how proud I was of him and he hugged me goodnight.

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