Todd found me pouring over an article on my phone this morning. A few inquiring questions, and I was a mess of choked tears. Hands over my face. Sputtering an explanation.
Sometime last week, I informed my six young (ish) children that I was going to be adding something of keen importance to our morning meeting time and that I was planning to make a continued valiant effort toward consistency of said meeting. The addition would be the inclusion of classic read aloud. And the reading time would be short- but it would be faithful. Little by little, I determined I would see a stack of well-loved favorites committed to our common heritage.
I wanted to read An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott. I have had it for awhile and never read it- and I thought it would be perfect. Slim, festive volume. Thanksgiving quickly coming…
But I wasn’t able to find it (as of yet). My shelves are a complete tumble; and my hand lit upon The House At Pooh Corner and The Hundred Acre Wood.
I have long loved the “Pooh” Tales for the perceptive insight into the creative world of a child and the poignant bittersweet of this beautiful, innocent, fleeting season. But, I have never read both volumes in entirety- and for some reason, I just felt- the time was now.
So, today, I began. Nested books together, I snapped a picture.
And somewhere, deep in my soul, I felt a witness: that this might be difficult. — that this might mean choked tears.
I am slayed by motherhood. Again, again. These days.
I read the introduction and Joshua asked: What does A. A. Milne stand for? And so, I searched. Alan Alexander Milne. And in the search, I discovered what led me to those sorrowing tears. Estrangment of father and son. Bitterness. Disconnected hearts. Deep disconnect.
Now, a caveat. It was a wikipedia article- and I quickly searched Amazon and then the library- and found autobiography by father and one by son. So, I plan to reserve those and read for ,myself- as the Britannica article mentioned nothing of the sort. But further research, did indeed, reveal a chasm of broken- ness and disconnect.
My heart broke at the thought that this perceptive father- who ( I thought was- but apparently he was not) in tune with his son; so connected in and through his childhood world, would lose that precious relationship when that son grew up.
There is a scene at the end of The House At Pooh Corner that beats with the pulse of a parent’s heart and a child’s destiny:
“So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.”
And then, there it was. The heart wrench of leaving. The grief of loss. The children grow up. The season changes.
And Todd sat down and laughed in his wonderful way – and made me laugh, too- and remarked about tax law and regulations and him crying over the federal law changes. His unfeigned and utter disbelief over me crying while reading Wikipedia and A. A. Milne. He is the smile behind my tears. And he cast (legitimate) suspicious doubt over such a source ( of course). And I tried to explain the perception and connectedness needed to write such a tale- and the understanding of a child’s world- and of course, (and this is the part that made me weep… the part about being in all those moments with children where their wonder is my wonder; and their joy is my joy; and the thread that twines between is flame and gold; and their hand in mine; and their story is my story):
my heart cracked for Micah-
my writer; my world builder; my dreamer of worlds.
But all in all, I knew it -the sudden reckoning way, that has been happening to me. My heart is sore. And this: this 2018-19 Senior year. It’s hard. It is a hard year for me.
I have been having more trouble than ever managing the chores; the practical navigations of the home and life; the plate is fuller than it has ever been.
I’ve never had a favorite age in a child before. I have loved it all in every season. But, I think….
I think seventeen might just be my favorite.
And I have one before me now- and I know what it feels like…now. And O! what utterly delightful people my darlings are. What things they say; what wisdom they possess; what beauty they find.
I have to grow bigger and stronger and taller inside.
But I wouldn’t change it. I wouldn’t change anything. I am glad to have been in my dear hearts’ “hundred acre wood” and I pray I can be there again.
My little one, she’s only five.