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  • cjhardeman

The Edge




What has happened is that my children have grown up. Not all of them, not all the way, but the older two are, for all intents and purposes, through with being kids, and the younger two are well on their way along that fast moving river that runs into the sea of the rest of their lives, the lives where they will call to check up on me as much as I will call to check up on them, where they will fall in love, where they will lead lives that intersect with mine at various points but which will be discrete and distinct from mine, lives that will witness my growing old if I'm lucky, my death, that will contain an array of triumphs and sorrows I won't be around to see. This is what should happen. I am very lucky to witness this cascade of new forms of independence, but I admit there have been a few moments lately when I have wanted to say stop, go back, I wasn't finished. I wasn't done picking you up, I wasn't done singing to you.


I am a good mother, which is to say I am the mother they have and necessarily the one they need and I do my best. I haven't always been good, and I haven't always done my best. My older kids have some memories of me that I wish they didn't, and though we talk about it and they laugh about it, when they were little I was not always a very safe or comforting mother. I am alright with that now, mainly because they are alright with it too. I have some regrets but not much shame, I know why I struggled and I know how common it is for women to struggle as I did, and I have been alright for a good long while. I don't think that motherhood came naturally to me, and having four children was never part of my plan. It felt like every day was a fight, and it was. To live in poverty as we did, to try to be an artist and a mother, to live without electricity or running water in a marriage that was, to put it mildly, calamitous- honestly the fact that we're all alive is probably a miracle, so I don't make a lot of room for shame, but I am always willing to spend time with regret. I regret that I didn't believe it would ever end, the drudgery and terror of rearing small children, because it did, and in some ways long before I was ready. I regret all the yelling I did, and it was a lot. It's hard being human.


Anyway, here we are now, at this point of departure, and it feels like everything is vibrating, like when you're a kid and you're walking through tall grass and the grasshoppers and the moths are flying up all around you, whizzing by in every direction, crashing into your knees and bouncing off the side of your face. And it's lovely and important and too fast to make sense of. That's how it feels. That's how I felt saying goodbye to my daughter this week as she left for a week long work trip. That's how I felt yesterday watching my sons sinking fence posts. That it's all happening, everywhere and for all time, and all there is for me to do is watch and be grateful, give it my full attention, remember this feeling, remember this moment when the world was open in all of its hopefulness and the furious rush of the future has not swept us all away just yet, not quite yet.

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