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To Catch, To Hold, Release

A few weeks ago, I’m boiling quinoa when I look up to see Ken and Bee parade through the front door. They’re lugging a bulging leather tote of books and waving a DVD over their heads in celebration of their recent library spoils.

Mom! It’s Finding Nemo! Bee says.
Harmless, right? Ken winks.

It’s raining, so we settle into the movie after lunch and I watch, mouth agape, as this small miniature fish encounters death approximately one billion times.

So, I get it. I get that the movie was created, at least in large part, for all of us parents who have the tendency to, let’s just call it, hover. Which is me, of course. Obvious to everyone. Helicopter Mom present, accounted for.

Ken is decidedly the opposite of me when it comes to basically everything in life, so we make a great pair. He’s cool, calm, collected. He’s the fun parent, the ‘She’s fiiiiiiiiiine!’ parent, the ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ parent.

And I’m over here, sanitizing the hand sanitizer.

Suum cuique.

But wait. Marlin’s wife dies in a barracuda attack along with 399 of his children? And he only has ONE LEFT?! And everyone’s like, Oh Marlin, you’re such a helicopter parent! Oh Marlin, let Nemo live a little! Oh Marlin, what’s the worst that can happen?!

Oh Marlin, one harmless fish abduction and your only child is swiped with a cold net and sent to die in the hands of a a dentist’s niece?

No big.

I spent the entire duration of that movie in this position while Ken and Bee bounced along happily with Dory, obliviously content, grateful to witness the wild adventure.

Just keep swimmin, I hear them sing tonight while brushing their teeth.

I know that Living in an attempt to avoid loss is not really living. Living in an attempt to circumvent fear is not living. Living in an attempt to sidestep death is not living.

And yet, I still find myself tightening everyone’s life jacket, adjusting the bike helmet again and again and again, checking the baby monitor three or forty times.

When I was 15, my friend died. It was no one’s fault. There was no negligence, no accident. It was a mechanical issue of the brain, that’s all. It happened.

That’s the hardest part to accept, for me.

That it just happened.

Who’s to blame for the happening?

I know the lessons we should take from tragedy. I know we are to revel in the sweetness of life, the fleeting nature of it, the undeserving gift of this big, wide love we get to share with each other.

Still, I have a hard time doing it. I have an easier time sanitizing the hand sanitizer.

It’s just that I’ve always appreciated having something to point toward, something to control, something that makes sense of it all, something that adds up.

But life isn’t math, is it?

It’s art, isn’t it?

Bernie steals Bee’s toys on a regular, rotating basis. Stuffed animals, wooden blocks, tiny wind-up chicks that spin on plastic feet. The two of them get into rousing matches of tug-of-war and, once, he bit her hand in a wild quest for the letter M alphabet block.

She cried and cried, and when she was finished, she wiped her tears and said this:

I want it to be someone else’s fault.

And after we talked about responsibility and good judgment and how it’s not wise to play tug of war with nearly-blind dogs, I understood.

I always want it to be someone else’s fault, too.

It’s just that death feels so wildly injust. We are here and then we aren’t, sometimes with little warning, sometimes by sheer accident, other times slowly and painfully, other times the opposite of that.

But always leaving something behind. Rarely, in most circumstances, with anyone to blame for the lack.

I want it to be someone else’s fault.

I’ll probably always be the kind of person who searches hard, who squints from all sides to find a reason for the reasonless. It’s not a bad thing, mostly. It makes me a pretty great contestant on Wheel of Fortune. I’m a pro at filling in the blanks, at seeing what isn’t there.

But sometimes we’re not supposed to see what isn’t there.
We’re supposed to see what is.

Marlin: How do you know that nothing bad won’t happen?
Dory: I don’t.

I still tend to err toward the hovering side of motherhood. I’m still the one watching intently on the sidelines of the playground, feigning conversation with other moms as I smile and laugh, my eyes darting to and fro, a mother hen secretly watching for danger.

I don’t know that nothing bad won’t happen.
I can’t protect her from skinned knees now, from broken hearts later.

But sometimes, I get to catch her.

Just keep swimmin.

And I get to hold her, for a moment.

Just keep swimmin.

And I get to release her into the wild, again and again and again.




(Thanks for these sweet pics, Ruth!)


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This post first appeared on Design For Mankind - A New-Fashioned Lifestyle, please read the originial post: here

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To Catch, To Hold, Release


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