Just got back from the grocery store and it was a real adventure. What made this particular trip so fun? The constant, ear-splitting screams of a small child.
I assumed, at first, that a baby was crying. If so, she had quite the set of lungs. This continued, nonstop, for a good fifteen minutes, the kid never once pausing or coming up for air. Her cries echoed through the entire store, making for a very unpleasant shopping experience – I could see this on the faces of the other shoppers I passed. Eventually the cries drew closer, and I spotted the offender. Surprisingly, she was about three years old. Her cheeks were blazing, tears streamed down her face, and she continued to wail incessantly. Her dad blatantly ignored her, pushing the cart with a stoic look, while her mom walked alongside, ignoring her with equally stubborn indignation.
The whole thing was sadly pathetic – and completely unnecessary.
All they had to do was pick the child up. Hug her, pat her on the back, comfort her. I don’t know what the issue was, and I understand that it’s none of my business, but a battle of wills out in public should never be allowed to continue unabated for so long. Eventually, the dad did scoop her up, and what do you know – the crying stopped instantly. Nobody said parenting was easy – I know this from firsthand experience – but it certainly doesn’t need to be that difficult, either.
I’ve been reading a lot of old blog posts lately. The summer of 2006 was a difficult and contentious time in my life; my marriage completely fell apart, and I have the whole thing chronicled elsewhere. Every event that transpired, every emotion I felt, is captured for posterity. This was unintentional; I’d been blogging for years, and when bad things started to happen, I continued to write. If anything, I stepped up the pace. So, for better or worse, I’ve got this very difficult time in my life all written down for me to look back on whenever the mood strikes. It’s difficult reading, but invariably makes me feel pretty good about my life these days, because it gives me a better appreciation for the happiness that Tara has brought me.
One of the things that I’ve been reminded of, in reading those old posts, is how crucial a role my kids played in helping me to survive a very trying time.
Divorce is difficult on everybody, and my kids experienced firsthand the disintegration of their parents’ marriage. It must have been an awful thing to witness, and I felt horrible that they had to live through it. And yet, through it all, they remained strong and supportive. I refuse to point fingers and place any blame – we’ll just call it an unfortunate situation and leave it at that – but throughout that summer, more often than not, it was just me and the kids, morning, noon and night. I think I depended on them just as much as they depended on me – but I don’t think they know that. Or knew that, because last night – some five and a half years after the fact – I let them know how important they’d been to me that summer. In fact, I shared with Rusty a blurb I had written one day in August.
Rusty, by the way, is the only person in the whole world I feel I can truly count on…my son’s stock keeps rising in my eyes every day…I’ve got Rusty, thankfully. He’s been awesome through this. An eleven-year-old source of strength. I think I’ll keep him around…
Audrey, too, was wonderful throughout the whole ordeal. At six, she was younger, and it was more difficult for her to process what was going on – but she rarely complained, and weathered the storm admirably.
The point is, I wanted my kids to know how thankful I was to have them, and how important they’d been to me then. And, how important they are to me now. It’s true that they are older and more independent. That they fight with each other and don’t always do as they are told and sometimes get on my last nerve. But, they are good kids, and I’m lucky they have turned out the way they have. Considering what they have gone through, and the fact that they still rotate between two households with very different lifestyles, ending up someplace different every week, they are remarkably well-adjusted and pretty well behaved. My friends point this out often, and Tara – who was understandably nervous over meeting them initially – has truly taken to them (and vice-versa). It’s made what might have been an awkward transition pretty damn simple.
So, Rusty and Audrey, even though I sometimes snap at you guys and nitpick over little things, know that I’m proud of you, and glad that you guys are around. I can’t imagine life without you.
And no, I am not dying. I just thought I’d tell you that!
The topic of kids, actually, is an interesting one. When we first divorced, I swore to myself that I would never again have another child. I felt like I’d paid my dues and, back then, had no interest in going through the whole process again. But over the years, my stance softened, and my attitude changed. The older my kids got, the more I missed those younger years (which is pretty ironic, because when they were babies I couldn’t wait until they were toddlers, and then when they were toddlers I couldn’t wait until they were in school…there was this never-ending cycle of wishing they were older and more independent, until suddenly they were. Then I was like hey, wait a minute… Maybe this is something all parents experience?). Plus, if I had it to do all over again, I know I’d do a better job. The kid crying in the store is a perfect example. When I was younger I was less patient, and more apt to try to prove a point, never mind the fact that it is impossible to reason with anybody under the age of 7. With maturity comes wisdom. I’d never let my kid cry like that. And, knowing how fast kids grow up, I think I’d appreciate those younger years more. I wouldn’t be in such a rush for my kid to turn older. There’s a lot to be said for cherishing the moment.
Mom and dad, you can breathe easy – I’m not trying to tell you anything here. I’m not ending this post with some big, surprising revelation. And I know I’m not getting any younger. If I ever did have another kid, I’d have to bring along an oxygen tank whenever I pushed the stroller, as I’m sure I’d end up winded from the exertion.
Actually, I kid. Tara told me the other day she has trouble keeping up with me sometimes. And I’ve got eight years on her. Maybe it’s the fact that I do have eight years on her that has me thinking this way? Dating a younger woman without children, the idea is bound to pop into your head at some point. At least the thought doesn’t have me running in the opposite direction, or even breaking a sweat. And that probably has a lot to do with how good Rusty and Audrey have been over the years.
So again, I thank you two. For being there then, and for being there now.
And no, really, I swear I don’t have some kind of terminal disease…