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Something clear

Categories: Best Practices


“Mommy. MOMMY. HELLLLOOOOOOO. Pick up the phone. PICK UP THE PHOOOONE, I beg you! We’re begging you!”

I hear this raucous pleading, punctuated by giggles and squeals, on the answering machine downstairs. I am in the loo, uh, indisposed.

When I am re-disposed, I call them back on their father’s phone.

“Hello, ladies.”


“Yes, darlings. I was in the bathroom.”

“OHHHhhh. SHE WAS IN THE BATHROOM.” I am sure their father is delighted to have that information.

“What’s up, monkeys?”

Hannah wrestles the phone to herself. “MOMMY, THIS IS HAAAAAANNAH NOW.”

“I know, dear one. What’s going on? Is everything okay?”

“We’re in the car!”


“The rash? We went to the DOCTOR. It’s just a VI-a, what is it, Daddy?”

“Virus,” I hear him say.

“IT IS JUST A VIRUS THING. It will go away by itself.”

“That’s great, hon, that’s good news.”

“But LISTEN. Can you come skating with our classes tomorrow?” she asks breathlessly.

H has been having a rough time of it lately. Lots of tears, lots of acting out, at home…both homes. Never at school. No amount of talking or cuddling or consequences has been doing the trick. She hurts in a way she can’t articulate.

“Can you?”

I have a deadline; approximately 75 pounds of laundry to wash, dry and sort; two cat boxes to clean; a kitchen to scrub; and mounds of paperwork. But I can hear it in her voice. She needs this.

I am grateful for something so clear.

“Yes, baby. I’ll write your teacher to find out what time. I’ll be there.”

The shriek of joy on the other side of the line is ear-splitting.

“THAT IS SO GREAT,” she yells. “I can teach you backwards skating.”

The deadline, the laundry, the cleaning, the paperwork: she won’t remember any of that, and neither will I.

But she will remember me shaking my tush like a lunatic, trying to propel myself backward.

“That IS great, honey. I’m a lucky mama.”


I don’t always know what they need. I am grateful for the times when it’s this clear.

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8 comments so far...

  • You are such a great mama, Jenn. Your girls are so fortunate to have you.

    Meg  |  January 27th, 2011 at 8:48 pm

  • Hooray for small victories!

    Kimberly Hiatt  |  January 27th, 2011 at 10:21 pm

  • Words of wisdom.

    Kaffee  |  January 28th, 2011 at 2:06 am

  • Oh, I hope I can hear my daughter as clearly as you hear yours. Thanks again for some much needed mothering inspiration.

    amy sue  |  January 28th, 2011 at 4:52 am

  • The acting out is difficult. You are right. It’s so nice when something is clear. xx

    Juli  |  January 28th, 2011 at 3:29 pm

  • Yet another reason why you ROCK!!!!

    Lorrian  |  January 28th, 2011 at 5:26 pm

  • Beautiful. I am learning to do the same thing as I always say my children are more important so sometimes I gotta say YES!!! It takes a village and this makes me feel like I am doing something right by my kids. Thanks for the words.

    Lynette  |  January 29th, 2011 at 1:33 pm

  • It’s so so difficult to see a child struggle. Because my ex-husband and I split up before my daughter was two, I thought (naively) that having two homes would be her normal. Not remembering us married would mean having no concept of divorce or separation. And that was right, I suppose, to a point.
    She’s four now, understands and can speak clearly and concisely about her situation when a peer happens to ask. (My mom lives in one home, my dad in another. I see them both.) But a few weeks ago she came home from her Dad’s and was almost immediately distraught. Wailing how she missed her Dad, and when she’s with her dad she misses me … crying so hard she could barely breathe. And I could barely breathe watching her. Out of desperation, I asked her what I could do for her, and she said very simply: “I don’t think there’s anything anyone can do for me.” True, very true, and also such a clear sign that her feelings about the divorce were now more sophisticated. She was coming around to a grief she didn’t previously have (or consciously have, I think).
    Anyway, sorry for the long comment. I so sympathize with this post. The muddle of divorce when crystallized by a clear need is a moment to remember indeed. I’m glad you could be there. I wish you well.

    Michelle  |  January 31st, 2011 at 3:26 pm