A term of endearment for kids in Mexico is mi vida, literally translated to “my life.” It’s like calling someone “sweetie” or “my love” but much more appropriate for children, don’t you think? My life. That’s it. You have taken it all. You now encompass all of my reality.
Mi vida is a little blue these days. Mae and Lalo (perhaps following Mae’s lead) both hate school.
The problem is you can’t argue someone out of a feeling. Because, of course, feelings aren’t logical. They are, by definition, illogical. I’ve tried convincing Mae that if she could just look for something good in the day, she might find it. Or if she could stop declaring at the breakfast table, I just know today will be horrible, she might enjoy school. But she mutters and complains of stomach aches and asks me again and again why kids have to go to school.
At least Mae has some dignity and buries her emotion deep, deep inside as she blinks back tears and walks through the doors. Lalo is a crying, drooling mess. We say goodbye at the door and he shuffles in, against his will. He sits in his chair and stares at me as he cries and reaches out his arms, “Mommy! I just want to be with you!” I sit at the door, nursing Zevvie and trying to reassure him from a distance. I can’t leave him like that but he takes a long time to regain his composer. Even after he has stopped crying, he fights waves of emotion that come and go and every once in awhile he is overcome and sobs some more. I wave goodbye when the sobs have gone for good. But he still whimpers.
Here’s what I don’t get: how do I be understanding and honor their feelings and listen completely to them when it always seems to end in despair? It’s like watching an emotional plane wreck. Shouldn’t I try to stop it? Yet, it’s impossible to stop. And I feel terrible. Their despair is…catching. How can it not be?
Now I realize the problem with having the children be mi vida. Up until now, I haven’t really gotten why everyone talks about the need for “me time.” Yes, yes–I like having some quiet moments in the day or some time to exercise or whatever. Yes, I’m tired. But I love being with my kids and find them intellectually stimulating. They are interesting and funny and wonderful and my favorite never ending project. I love mi vida! But this week, this week–I’m beat.
I feel like the well has run dry. I can’t solve this problem. I can’t stop them from being sad by working harder or staying up longer or singing more lullabies. I can’t hug them into happiness. And so I’m painfully reminded that their lives are actually not mine to direct and control and I also have to be ok with that. I will love them even when I can’t “fix” them. And, in order to do that, I need to have my own vida, too.