“It’s so hard,” Danielle said and sighed.  She raised her eyes and focused on a spot above the crown of my head, presumably looking into an immediate future that lacked good options.

“When I was his age I couldn’t wait to get out of the house,” Maureen said.

“Oh god, me too,” I chimed in.  “The minute I got out of high school.”

“Did I tell you he quit his job?” Danielle continued.  “I mean there were good reasons.  They cut his hours and they were turning him into an errand boy.  There was no training.  But the way he quit, just walking away.  So irresponsible.  Now he can’t use the job as a reference.”  What she expects is now her son will spend even more time in his room under his headphones, monosyllabic on a good day, silent the rest of the time.

Here’s something I read in a guest post on The Motherhood Blog, by Rita Desnoyers-Garcia:

“You are not responsible for any one’s life experience but your own. You have children, but you are not responsible for how they feel. You are here to be their guide. Your job is to help them understand their own ‘guidance system’— their feelings. And one of the biggest ways of guiding them is to pay attention to your own feelings.”

Seems reasonable but then, I don’t have children and don’t need to raft those rapids.  My quotidian anxieties are tub toys in comparison: the nitrogen-deprived camellias at Fran’s, water issues at Betsey’s (she calls hers an “irritation” system), the crabapple and the tree fern duking it out for space at Daniel’s.  Dozens more small worries lie buried under a thin layer of cranial topsoil, which do give rise to a veritable neurosis; the responsibility to keep everything alive.

Which is nothing to scoff at.


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