The Ice Dam Breaketh

Be careful what I wish for.

Last night I wrote that I wanted the ice dam to break, to let the torrent of feelings loose… And this morning the ice dam broke! With my kid.


Yesterday I had this long difficult conversation, full of feelings that I was trying not to have. The conversation was about how this person in my life “had changed the plan without talking to me“ and me feeling “disrespected.“ (At one point it I was told that I might have some tiny control issues. To which I replied, deadpan, “I don’t have control issues.” Which at least got a laugh.)

(By the way, note to self: anytime I hear myself saying “Don’t feel that,” it’s a red flag. Danger! Danger Will Robinson!)

And so there I am. Angry about “not being respected” and trying not to feel.  Cold cold anger. An ice dam around my heart.

And then writing that I want it broken.

And so begins a new day. I get up at 5:30 to write (because I have a schedule, but no control issues.) I make the breakfast and also I’m rearranging things because I have a client who may or may not need me at an emergency at a last-minute meeting this morning.

When inform my son that we will be leaving for before-school care later than usual, he loses it. He starts yelling at me that I’m ruining his day and ruining his life.

For some reason, I really really really want to tell him to shut the fuck up.

But I do not. I use my skills. I take a deep breath. I take another deep breath. I’m in the bathroom, leaning over the sink, trying to put on some under-eye concealer, but I put it down and say “Come in here .”

He comes into the bathroom and sits on the toilet and I look at him and say “I will talk to you about this, but I don’t want to be yelled at.” His face is furious. I look at him and I think about not teaching him to have an ice dam about around his heart. I say, “Do you want to go to your room and scream for a few minutes and then talk to me?”

He takes a breath. He looks at me with giant eyes he says “No mom. Then he says (I swear to all the Gods), he says “I just wish that if you’re going to change the plan you would talk to me.”

Oh man.

So I do. I drop into vulnerability and I realize that he has been asking me for a predictable morning routine for a while now, and I’ve been so busy spinning plates that I just did not fucking hear it.  So I tell him that and that I’m sorry about today but I can choose a predictable time that we leave the house and work around that in the future. And he seems okay.

And then my client says no, they don’t need me after all.

And then for some reason my son backslides and starts talking about how I don’t pay attention to his needs.

And I totally fucking lose it. I mean, not physically. But the mean voice to just get in the car. And the kind of shaming around the difference between wants and needs, as in “You want to get to Blazing Trails in time for the game. I need to work. I need to pay for this house.”

WTF, Andrews?  That is NOT the move.

And then I am literally, so furious that I can’t even drive the car. I make us go back in to the house until I calm down. He is telling me I am mean and and I tell him I am not sending him to school like this, we are going to figure this out.

When really, what I needed to do, possibly, was send him to school to get away from his totally nuts mother.

I send him to his room. I go to my room. And at least have the wit to I pick up my phone and play the movie of the owl that I watched last night: the snowy owl, riding the breaking ice like she owns this shit. Like there is not a freezing abyss below her waiting to suck her down and that ice dam the only thing between her and oblivion.

I try to imagine what that would feel like.

It would feel like not trying not to feel.

It would feel like riding my emotions, even… enjoying them? Instead of shutting them down. I take another breath and I can feel a smile, a crack in the ice. .right behind my heart. 

Forest comes to my room and hugs me and says he’s sorry, which makes me feel better and also worse. We leave. We are halfway down the hill and he starts to complain again and it's end days in the minivan, I am in total cray-cray land. I can feel the crack, widening but I am going to hold this shit together and stay in control. I actually start to turn the car around to go back home. And Forest is utterly befuddled and starts to cry. And then I pull over and start sobbing and sobbing and sobbing.

Great chunks of ice, breaking and moving. Ice dam? Gone. Torrents running forth.

Be careful what I wish for.

He tells me to breathe. He tells me to breathe again. He asks me if I can take the day off. In my head, the tape is running that I am the worse mother ever and he should never have to ask me these questions.

Later my friend, the one I had the difficult conversation with yesterday, says that it’s a good thing for him to see me not in control.

Later, another friend, to whom I confess being a terrible mother, says “Yeah, but there’s being a terrible mother for a morning and there’s long-term trauma-creating terrible mother. Don’t confuse the two.”

All of that is later. When we get to school, we hug, we go in. He is talking to me about 80’s music. He says goodbye and I do not, for some reason, feel that I have ruined everything.

I do feel, though. As I drive to the creek, I feel. As I get out of the car, and Sunshine the dog stretches his long gold body into a lope down the meadow, I feel. As I walk down to the water, I feel. And instead of rushing through so I can get in my steps, or make my bus, or check my mail, I actually go down to the boulder that is my altar and sit on it. Sunshine lays on the wet sand next to me. And I ground and I turn east, and I feel air. I feel it, and I am so grateful to feel and I commit that for this day, I will stay connected to my breath. And I turn south and I feel. I feel the mischief and hunger of fire and I commit that for this day I will ride my emotions like that owl riding the breaking ice, and enjoy them. Like a roller coaster ride. And I face west and I commit to feeling my feelings and then North. Earth. The Osoberry are nearly in bloom. All is changing. I can see the Dogwood branch right at the edge of the bank –three summers ago, I watched a hummingbird swoop under the umbrella of leaves and settle onto her thimble-sized, lichen-covered nest. Now that branch is bare. The fingers of spring that have touched the Osoberry have not yet reached the Dogwood, but they are coming. There is growth and movement and life here and I can feel it again.