Up the Hill by Anne Katherine Cronk

Topic: Crash and Burn

My four-year old daughter and I have finished taking care of the horse and now have to go up the hill and take care of the chickens. She suddenly throws herself onto the ground back first and says, “Carry me!  I’m exhausted!”

Exhausted, I’m thinking. I’m the one who practically gave the horse a full body massage while she tottered around with different brushes trying to contribute. And to tell the truth, she was really ultimately at the behest of any butterfly who flew by. I do suppose all her sprints to catch butterflies might be semi-exhausting. But I also know that her current exhaustion would quickly end if another butterfly flew by at this exact moment.

But, of course, carry her up I do, counting my blessings that it could be worse – she is small for her age and could weigh much more!

Her back-first exclamations make me jealous, though, because there are so many times a day when I would love to do the same thing – throw myself down and demand that someone carry me. Just when things get really hard.

My days of that are really over, though. My mother died over a year ago. And it strikes me that there is no one else, really, for me – who would pick up the pieces when I crash and burn unconditionally.

That is not to say that if I hit hard times I would not have help. That is not quite what I’m getting at. My husband of course would do everything he could. And I have some really great friends. But you can only ask so much at a time of people – a mom of course is not really a people. No-matter-what is what moms are for.

This is highly normal as life progresses, I know. Nothing new for those who have experienced this loss much sooner than I. Life just has a tendency to fan connections out quite naturally, and when you win that survival ticket – by definition you have to watch your connections feather and fade.

And you need to bulk up. Because now it’s you who has to be there no-matter-what, and those kids tend to pile on some heavy stuff as the years go on.

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4 Responses to “Up the Hill by Anne Katherine Cronk”
  1. talleygilly says:

    Anne – So much I love here, your bits of poetry sprinkled through your prose –> “at the behest of any butterfly,” “feather and fade,” “a mom of course is not really a people.” Chasing butterflies is so terribly exhausting–my children complain about the same and how they need relax. You so eloquently get to the heart of that feeling of jealousy and grief of knowing that as adults, we must face that we really are no longer children to be carried, that we must carry ourselves. Even if we know this in theory, we are forced to face it so much faster when we lose a parent. So sorry for your loss but grateful for your beautiful words. -Alexandra

  2. Anne Katherine says:

    Thanks so much for reading! I do find myself, as I get older, jealous even of my own childhood! It’s the human condition, I suppose, that we never fully appreciate all the assets of the stage we’re currently in. And that, as parents, we want to drill into our children how lucky they are, because “in my day…” 🙂 Crashing and burning, alas, is so okay for a four-year-old (on a daily basis around here)…and yet so hard for adults to really do — well, all-out, anyway! So appreciate your comment!

  3. Richard Wiseman says:

    The other day I walked my daughter the two miles home from school and rare for a UK June day it was sunny.My daughter is 9 and asked me to carry her on my shoulders as she was exhausted. I did and for about a mile! When we got home I was exhausted. I said to her ‘ Will you carry me on your shoulders when I am old and can’t walk?’ She answered ‘Don’t be silly I’d look stupid carrying a little old man on my shoulders!’ You are so right about having no back up when we become parents, but that in a way for me is what drives me on – I’d be unhealthy and lazy if my kids’ needs hadn’t given me something to fly for, even at the risk of crashing and burning. Great take on the topic and lovely writing, thanks for sharing. I enjoyed that.

    • Anne Katherine says:

      So, true, Richard, that too much of a focus on our own needs becomes mentally unhealthy. Kids definitely do keep us going, and that is a great thing overall. Your daughter’s response to you is funny – a very silly image. My middle daughter, who is quite an athlete in the water, is quite famous in our family for dreading and kind of walking or hiking. She constantly mooched rides for as long as she possibly could! She is in a lot of debt and I will be expecting payback when I’m older 🙂 Thanks so much for reading – much appreciated!

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