I don't know why it's so hard to leave my house every morning. Maybe it's just that out of sorts feeling that dogs the month of February, especially after successive weeks of snow. Maybe I'm obsessing about my follow up appointment with Uncle Sam next week, and the continued spinning of my wheels the audit will require. Maybe I'm plagued with guilt over the bills for my aunt that I have not yet submitted to her disability trust for the month of January, the first time I have not been on top of that, ever. I feel as if I'm sliding down a slippery slope of unmet obligations, trying to find a redeeming crevice where I can grab hold.
My daughter, too, seems out of sorts, crankier, broody, worried about whether she'll get into college and not really taking it in when I tell her that she has nothing at all to worry about. The eleventh graders at her school are feeling the pressure. She's decided she's not going to discuss with her classmates where she plans to apply because she doesn't want to have to deal with their opinions about her chances or their unspoken worry that she might take a spot they want at a particular school.
She actually told me that everyone at her school gets straight As except for her. I looked at her. "Really!" she said. I pointed out that this was not really possible. "Well all my friends get straight As," she insisted stubbornly, "and they don't even try that hard." I think she was feeling sorry for herself, and maybe she was feeling pressured by the day-in-day-out insistence of things, a feeling I know well. How can I explain to her so that she truly understands that there are good colleges that will want her? "You have to say that," she says when I try to assure her. "It's in the mom manual."
And the other night she said to me, "Remember Chris Chin?" He was the eleventh grade boy who jumped to his death during January of his junior year when my girl was a freshman and still new to high school. He had been in her Spanish class. "He was where I am now," my daughter noted. "What must he have been feeling?" I felt like an idiot, because I hadn't been paying attention enough to realize that Chris Chin would hover over this year for my girl and perhaps for her entire class. They were so wrecked when he jumped, so heartbroken. And now they are at the same pass, wondering if they have what it takes. If I could tell them anything, I would tell them that the story is never over, it is always unfolding, and a twist here or a disappointment there cannot turn aside its beautiful momentum, not if you believe that there is always more around the corner, more experiences to entertain, much more of life to break your heart and mend it back tenderly and feed your very soul.
My child is still passionate about things—cooking, photography, dance, writing, most of all her friends. She is out in the world every chance she gets. In just one month, she will be among ten students traveling to South Africa for spring break to teach art to under-served kids at two township schools. The students in my daughter's group have been meeting every week for months now to work out their curriculums. My girl has chosen photography and she's busy coming up with assignments and ideas for how to inspire the kids. She's such a good soul. She has a laugh that sprinkles happy dust over anyone who hears it. She's compassionate and deep thinking. She's quirky and enjoys the quirky in other people. She doesn't quit.
I am trying to let her be a little cranky, to not require sunny all the time, just because that is who she has been for most of her life. I am trying not to be worried about moody and broody. But I need to pay attention here. I need to push past my own blue mood and not infect my household with it. It helps sometimes to sit in the house after everyone leaves in the morning and have a good cleansing cry.