This made me smile yesterday: T.'s take on winter science! The hypothesis she was testing? Whether or not frozen rocks would turn to ice. ********* I needed that smile. After a relatively calm, good summer, things have hit the fan, big time. I've been thinking about the word convergence lately--it popped into my head this week, as words tend to do, especially when I'm trying to get a grip on situations in my life, to give them a concrete shape and meaning. The word really came to me while I was standing in the family room, knee-deep in a homework battle with L., who has lately decided to boycott all school-related work. And when I say "boycott" I really mean it (we're not talking peaceful protest here, people). At that moment I really felt--almost physically--the convergence of way too many things hitting me at once. It wasn't just one thing; it wasn't the homework, or the excruciating purposeless battle over multiplication. It wasn't work-related stress, or the burden of important decision-making (how I wish we could get away with using a Magic 8 ball from time to time). It wasn't all the e-mails from L.'s teacher, or our faltering confidence in our decision to maintain the status quo. But it was all those separate things converging on me at once, in that room, like too many sharp fingers pointing at me, pushing me into my tipping point. It was not my finest parenting moment. I felt, for a few moments, like I had felt years ago when T. had colic, when one night she cried so much I had to fight the urge to set her down and walk away, out into the night, away from it all. I stormed out of the family room, just as Scott came home, and shouted--to him, to the universe, to anyone who might listen: "I DIDN'T SIGN UP FOR THIS!" A statement which makes no sense whatsoever, of course, even if it felt good to say it. You don't sign up for parenthood in the first place, you choose it--you don't custom order your kids, or your family dynamic. When you become a parent you take that ultimate blind plunge into the unknown. you let your identity take form, grow around you; you love what you do, you cry over it, you keep on going--sometimes gathering the unraveling threads to your heart, mending as you go, celebrating the moments when you can step back and revel in your work, the times when you can pause and catch your breath, if even for a little bit. I didn't sign up for the homework battles or for how excruciatingly difficult and exhausting it can be to get L. to do the simplest of things on any given day; or for those nights when I like awake in the dark, wide-eyed with worry about the future. I know for sure I didn't sign up for that ache in my heart that sometimes won't go away--that one you get when one of your children hurts, and you can't fix it. But there is a long, long line stretching the globe over of patient, faithful, hard-working parents out there who didn't sign up for much worse, and they keep on going, gathering their children to their hearts, mending what's broken, pushing on through it to the other side.