~quinn’s forty-fifth month~ hard-won

~written november 2018~

this was a stressful month: just after quinn’s dental surgery, i had to spend 3 days in seattle for work. i decided to take time off to regroup with quinn and even that became a source of stress. all of these exacerbated the category of “coparent stress”, and on top of it, quinn got sick multiple times, including one trip to the emergency room over a confusing set of stomach virus symptoms.

me: noticing locations in my body where i was apparently lodging the stressful feelings, in addition to being extra scattered and forgetful. (trauma = fragmentation.)

also me: making great strides towards self-sufficiency, contentment, confidence in my own integrity; exploring my past and developing goals for the future, streamlining, creating; forging ahead on disentangling, in spite of obstacles; enthusiastically supporting my little one’s love of learning.

i can at least say that the fact that nobody remembered to get the fish to the fish cutting party in seattle was not due to my forgetfulness. apparently, the bloopers increase in scope after 12 years of project duration, when all the small mistakes have already been made.

i missed quinn like crazy. it was hard to sleep without my snuggle buddy. he talked to me on the phone. “mama, i’m doing (describing actions) with this buoy. see this green buoy?”

“wow, cool buddy, it sounds like you’re having fun with the buoy. but hmm,  i don’t really see it, but i like how you are describing it to me, so i can imagine it…”

i took quinn on a yurt trip. i was hassled relentlessly by my coparent about going, as though it was somehow his place to give “consent” on me taking quinn on a very short trip during my parenting time. i was a bundle of nerves, and forgot most of what would have been good to bring along, such as propane for my cook stove, or any firewood.

but i was a resourceful gal and scavenged firewood and cooked over flame. it took over an hour to make coffee, what with one thing and another. i built the fire, got the pot of water going, then managed to douse the flames entirely, as well as losing half of the (barely lukewarm) water. building the fire the second time with wet wood was an additional challenge… my filter was clogged… but even without half and half, the hard-won cup of coffee tasted mighty good.

quinn and i were getting along about as well as the coffee making. but like the coffee, i was willing to work hard for a positive outcome, and we were making some progress. amid the difficulties, i was still in awe of my kiddo. he told me that he wants to have “a little boy and a little girl” when he gets bigger, and to swing them on the end of his special blue climbing rope. “the girl will stay a baby.”

quinn would remark on the beauty of the yurt each time we walked in. once he said, “look! that roof is there to keep the leaves from being hats that flutter down, down, down onto our heads!” (he was referring to the skylight dome).

we went for a nice hike in cape lookout state park before we headed home. quinn was in and out of the backpack, still a bit fatigued from his recent cold. dried plant skeletons withered in the fog of the autumn marsh. blackberry vines had turned a deep merlot, surrounded by brown of every shade. there was still so much green, only now with ecru lace (dried angelica) and beaded silk (spiderwebs collecting droplets of fog) woven throughout. the change of season kept me mindful that all things pass, and that winter storms would come and scour the landscape, scrubbing it bare and making space for new growth come spring.

when i would post about positive things like a yurt trip back then, i most definitely hit the highlights and left out a lot of the lows, but i am not calling myself out on any dishonesty here. i would like to state for the record that i admitted every bit of the negativity to my bff, knowing that it was an important key to maintaining my integrity to have that accountability to one person. i also felt a need to protect myself in a public venue, and knowing what was coming my way in the following couple of years, this was well warranted. finally, i’ve never been sure how to find the delicate balance of wanting to preserve my son’s love for both his parents, while also accurately representing my own experience.

in some of these sticky places, it’s hard to describe my experience without trespassing on anyone else’s experience. how do you explain the knots you were tied in without mentioning that someone was keeping you on the phone several hours a day threatening self-harm, saying he was destroying things in his place, begging you to come and rescue items for quinn. and then on even the comparatively good days, endless badgering and blame, complete unwillingness to compromise over minor schedule details, up to and including threatening “see you in court when you return” from my yurt “vacation”. it is not my intent to place blame, and all of this water has long since flowed under the bridge. still, this is the truth i was living, these were not small potatoes.

(these were small potatoes.)

i can see now how the trajectory of this rough period would not fully come to a head until over a year later; and i can also understand why it has taken me so long to revisit the artifacts of this time period. i am glad i didn’t know at the time that this was not even going to be the worst of it. but i can also look at my then-self and marvel at how strong she must have been to withstand it all and emerge with a smile on her face and a positive outlook on life.

back home,  i had swapped the bedroom for the sewing room, and when quinn got in the new bedroom, he was so thrilled he had to bring in a bunch of string and net floats to play with (of course, the bed being the “boat”) and then we had to jump and dance on the bed. i would often look at the strings and ropes over which quinn exhibited such command, and imagine one day being able to disentangle the snarly knotted mass of rope still compelling me to interact with his dad so much more than i wanted to. i knew we’d always be tied, but i desperately wanted some slack in the line, so that i could navigate my own vessel in open water, without his always looming over and colliding with mine.

over and over again, i’ve been blown away by the gifts that have been lying here in wait all these years, biding their time until i would come back and notice the way they practically jump up and down waving their arms in the air pointing to the bright future i would inhabit. i never noticed the tiny rainbows in the shafts of light, streaming through the trees over my son, but now i see them, clear as can be.

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