My achy breaky heart: Slice of Life 27/31 #SOL20

This morning, my 9-year-old had his first-ever online meet up with his class. The kids were so excited to see each other that some were literally bouncing out of their seats. Several brought pets which led to others leaving the room to go get their pets. Dogs, cats, guinea pigs and even a hamster all played brief outsized roles. I stayed until my son waved me out of the room, but I wasn’t focused on the guest appearances. Instead, I watched his teacher’s face, transfixed by the genuine delight and caring that crossed it as he saw each little person show up on the screen. For one moment his eyes glistened, then he took a deep breath before he continued. My heart ached for him.

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This afternoon our 18-year-old exchange student went home to the Netherlands. During his short stay with us, he met a young woman and, in the way of teenagers, they fell head over heels for one another. Because pandemics apparently hold no sway over passion, they struggled to stay apart. Ok, truth: they didn’t stay apart. So this week our family and her family decided to break social isolation and let the two of them be together for four final days. Yes, we took a risk, but seeing them together at our house for the past two days made my heart swell. I had nearly forgotten about that overwhelming, all-consuming love that makes the rest of the world fall away from you. They were almost glued together at our house and were completely devastated when we dropped him at the nearly empty airport. Their hearts are broken for now, and my heart aches with mirrored emotion, aware that I know more than they do and that the knowledge isn’t always sweet.

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Today is my husband’s birthday. He woke up and made *us* scones because that is who he is. Later, while he was dropping the teens at the airport, the kids and I tried to secretly bake him a cake. Because I had a call scheduled with some of my own students, my boys proceeded on their own. When I finished the call, I found the kitchen and the kids fairly covered in butter and flour. Unable to find a mixer and unwilling to interrupt my call, the children had tried to cream the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon, then added the flour without adding any liquid ingredients. When I showed them how to read the whole recipe first, their faces fell: “Do you think it will still taste ok?”

“Oh yes,” I assured them, “if you have good ingredients, the results are almost always pretty good.”

Before I could stop them, they dumped all the buttermilk in at once, adding to the existing kitchen chaos. I started to laugh, my heart aching with happiness at their excitement.

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After the cake-baking, I insisted that we go for a walk. This was not a popular decision. Still, the kids have been inside for two days and it was finally sunny and veering towards warm. I was relentless. I forced them outside.

On our walk, my younger son complained and complained of a bellyache but offered little information and no solutions. Eventually, I lost my temper and yelled at him. Not long after that, he ran behind a metal bin and everything came out of him. I had to use my disinfecting wipes to clean him up. Afterward, he held my hand and snuggled close as we walked home, and he didn’t say anything about my inappropriate anger. My heart broke a little at his ungrudging forgiveness.

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Today my heart has ached all day long.

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12 thoughts on “My achy breaky heart: Slice of Life 27/31 #SOL20

  1. It’s amazing how one break in our composure, one very minor moment in the joy of all this can break us; we are too alike. So, I’m telling me and you to stop the universal gaslighting of yourself – how could you have known? The line, “ Today my heart has ached all day long.” punches the reader in the gut after the joy beforehand.

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  2. Feeling all the feels after reading each of these vignettes. I hope the tummy ache is nothing but a normal one. My heart aches for the teens. Young love is so painful and wonderful. I love that all the kids brought pets to their virtual classroom. Did you see that Twitter post about the class w/ all those rules? What class doesn’t need emotional support animals? What a world we live in. I can’t find the words to say all I want to say.

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  3. These vignettes capture so much of your day and of these times. Each is perfect in itself and together they form a beautiful, painful whole. Love and loss. Joy and sorrow. Laughter and tears. I said to my husband today that I wake each day feeling heavy, like I’m grieving. And I guess I am. I guess we all are. Your final line says it all. I hope your son feels better soon and I hope his upset tummy was due to some ingredient indulgence during the cake making—Also, I have to know.!!! How was the cake???

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  4. Too Much achy heart in one day… the teacher’s glistening eyes. These days make me long to have a class of my own to connect with and be there for. These were all really tender moments.

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  5. I actually found a lot of JOY in this post– the kids bringing their pets, the delight in the teacher’s eyes. The teenage love and letting them spend four days together before he left. And, the boys making the cake and letting you finish your call. And, like Stacey, I like how you broke them all apart.

    PS. Hope your son feels better–that wasn’t such a joyful part of this post

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  6. I, too, love all of these vignettes. It gives me so much insight into what you hold dear. Thank you for sharing these pieces of your heart.

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  7. Echoing all the sentiment from the comments above. Love the series of vignettes from your day. Ache is a perfect word for something we’re all experiencing at the moment. It’s all new, and changing, and all change is loss. Keep on truckin’! 🙂

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  8. Your slice pierces the heart in so many ways, Amanda. Young love, at such a time as this. The poignance of the cake-making, the teacher’s glistening eyes, your poor boy … I am finding that each of these strange, slow days is laced with latent sorrow that makes us everything with sharper focus than we have in a long time. The filter, I think, is tinged with grief … more so than fear, maybe … but it definitely alternates with a bright, joy-colored one. So beautiful, Amanda. Wellness to your boy and to all.

    Oh, and: When my oldest was three, he sang “Achy Breaky Heart” nonstop, and danced … he did this once at a Pizza Hut when it came on the jukebox and a group of teenagers at a table nearby applauded him. And then presented him with a paper rose they made from a napkin.

    The true stuff of life – all these moments.

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  9. These scenes from pandemic life resonate. Your latest comment to me compared what you called your ‘nattering’ to my conciseness. Doesn’t feel like that at all to me. I marvel how full your life is, with all kinds of experiences and feelings, enough to fill this one blog from a single day with at least four different slices of life. Keep up the good work, even when it hurts sometimes.

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  10. Oh, this roller coaster of vignettes! I love how this plays out like scenes in a movie or play, where all the separate lives converge as one. My heart fell, and it burst, over and over again in this post today. You so vividly painted the picture of your boys in the kitchen (heart bursting) and then the throw up scene (with levity in the form of Clorox wipes-sorry) and the way you told them that the good ingredients would save the day-so sweet. Your husband making you scones “because that is who he is” (heart bursting) and your exchange student seeing his girl for probably the very last time (heart fell)…and this line “aware that I know more than they do and that the knowledge isn’t always sweet”….the teacher seeing his students’ faces…oh, my, this was good. The way you wove one slice into the other was pure magic. Powerful stuff. Wow.

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  11. One of those days… Some days are crucibles, eh? You lead us through your loving anguish, patience, care, and emotion so gently, I can’t help but think that your kind and gentle spirit shines through, even when tempers flare. It comes through in your writing loud and clear. Parenting is not for the faint of heart – but surely worth the the heartaches <3. Thank you for a great post.

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