Thursday, December 06, 2007

"Fermez All Those Bouches!"

Behold the hills of tomorrow
Behold the limitless skies
Fling wide the gates
To a world that waits
As our journey starts behold our hearts are high

Beyond the hills of tomorrow
Are skies more beautiful still
Behold, begin
There are worlds to win
May we come to trust
The dreams we must

This evening as I was pondering the possible causes of a week somewhat unraveled, a line from Stephen Sondheim's 1981 hit, "Merrily We Roll Along", rolled right through my head:

Life isn't about doing the best, it's about doing the best you can.
(No it isn't, it's about doing the best!)

When does it disappear? When do we start to compromise?

Compromise? I haven't even started!

I look at my kids who have been on edge most of the week despite my best efforts to comfort, soothe, enjoy and protect. Tonight, I stepped away for just one minute upstairs, and I heard crying.

I came down the stairs, called them both in front of me, and said plainly, "I am not responsible for, nor can I do anything about, what's happening when you are not here. If you're upset about something, you're welcome to talk about it, but you are not welcome to hurt each other."

How can you get so far off the track?
Why don't you turn around and go back?

On more than one occasion this week, my son has hit my daughter. This morning, over her cheerios, she pondered with what for her was notable gravity the coming holiday season. Every day I've had to intervene, interject, separate, redirect, or simply put an end to. These are not the people I'm used to living with.

You roll, you just roll, everybody roll

This is not a bluegrassy number, but it is from one of my favorite shows. When I was a sophomore in college we did this show; how little, how very little we understood then how true to life it is. You start out, dreaming big dreams, thinking there is little that can stand in the way of making a contribution, being recognized for doing something well, having a normal, happy life. And somewhere along the line the road twists and turns and you find yourself a little lost. Some days, you look at what's in front of you, and you can't help but realize, wow, this is pretty screwed up.

Still, you dream, you teach children how to dream, and you learn to stay away from the people who don't know how to dream, or who have the attention span of a head of broccoli.

Yesterday is done. So indulge me this little trip back in time when to me, Stephen Sondheim knew everything I ever dreamed or felt or believed to be the right way to write a song, make a point, tell the human story.


At December 07, 2007 12:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh wow, MM; your post has left me speechless, in so many ways, for so many reasons.

I'll call you soon.



At December 07, 2007 1:44 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hey, I didn't call it "Fermez All those Bouches!" for nothing. That and so many other lines and tunes from this show just seem to fit right now. Change is unsettling, even when it's for good reasons. And disappointment is the main theme that runs throughout the show. The holidays are so hard on kids of split families. I know that part of what is causing these behavioral aberrations is the stress we all feel about the holidays, even before change is thrown into the mix.

But the show is packed with good stuff, too. I may have to run "Bobby and Jackie and Jack" the closer we get to Nov. 2008. I'll be doggone but I actually remembered most of the words to that one...all those Kennedys...oyvehmaria. I think Tony Trishka could probably make that one hum on banjo.

At December 07, 2007 5:10 PM, Blogger Shameless Agitator said...

Mando, I wish there was something I could do to ease the burden that weighs on your kids and on you.

The hardest lesson to learn is that everything changes. Even when you think you have a good grasp of it, the universe throws you a curve ball to knock you off balance again.

You are all on my heart.


At December 08, 2007 2:54 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

THanks Shameless.
The kids have been through change before and they will go through it again. The are clearly adjusting.

The whole thing is kind of like watching a movie, only the characters are real and I have feelings for them. There have been more raw moments in the film lately. But, technically, I'm not in the movie. I'm not even part of the plot. I'm just their mother. I merely brought these two characters into the world. Isn't the most painful part of any creative process the letting go of your work as it takes on a life of its own?


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