Of Children and Love by Anne Katherine Cronk

Topic: Love

She remembered walking into his kindergarten class and having the teacher show her a picture he had done.  The teacher held it up for the whole class to see.

“Now THIS is background. Did you see this? This is just amazing.”

It was a very good picture with a bold blue background, the sun and birds and flowers. Really nice detail. But as his mom she had seen it before many times. She knew how easy it came to him. She was proud, yes, but the pride was restrained.

Maybe that was her biggest flaw as a parent, an inability to celebrate when she should. Because kindergarten, elementary school. . . those were the days when it was easy to feel pride and love and just a general puffing up when the subject of her children came up. And looking back there was a lot to be proud of, but she did not feel like she had appreciated it. She instead felt that same sort of shelving of her pride, like maybe she thought it was something she would take out later.

Now he had just completed his first year of college, and to her relief it was easier again, to feel that pride, that affection. He had a 3.94 GPA and had won an academic award in chemistry. He was working hard and was proud of his accomplishments. And she was too, even more than ever, she felt. If anyone asked her about him she could not wait to tell them how he was doing.

His senior year of high school had definitely fixed her. Had made her long for those elementary school days of beautiful artwork and presidential physical fitness awards and perfect SOL scores, because it did not look like there would be any more of that to look forward to.

He skipped school, lied to his teachers, lied to his parents. He was not off into major trouble, like drugs and alcohol. He was just into a girl and ditching school and avoiding sports. . . all in the time when colleges were looking very closely at his grades. He squandered many opportunities that year.

She remembered sitting at the kitchen table with him. This was at the very lowest point of it all, in the face of his most appalling lie of all. Earlier that day she had to talk to the teacher on the phone and the crux of his lie had been exposed.

She was crying, he was crying. Why, she kept asking him, why? Even though she knew there was no real answer to that.

“Do you hate me?” he asked.

She looked at him. Hate, was that even possible? Her own child? Disgust, disappointment, frustration, disbelief, confusion, yes, all that.

She hugged him tightly. “No,” she said. “I love you.”

2 Responses to “Of Children and Love by Anne Katherine Cronk”
  1. talleygilly says:

    What a raw and powerful piece, Anne. You capture so well the range of emotions that make up love–it is all of those: “Hate,disgust, disappointment, frustration, disbelief, confusion, yes, all that.” It’s so easy to look back at what we did wrong, what we could have done better, and sometimes so hard to celebrate our children’s successes and our own. We never finish being parents, so we always wonder, could this be the year/hour/minute we get it “right?”

    • Anne says:

      Thanks, Alexandra!
      So true, we never do finish being parents – it goes on and on, and it all changes on the way too, and so the minute we do thing we have it “right” – well, that doesn’t last long till there’s some other worry!

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