…Friday afternoon, driving off to secret hunting spot with handmade Yew bow, a dozen sharpened arrows, ten bacon sandwiches, 5 chocolate bars, 8 ounces elk urine, and this special keepsake from one five year old boy:
And despite the above forlorn face, we’re faring just fine, me and the kids. We’re actually having a grand time, even though several times a day I feel like I’m a participant in a one-person self-help group, repeating to myself: “I am a good enough mother. I am a good enough mother. I am a good enough mother.”
Because, when Dan’s around and Col’s exploding over us not letting him sleep with the decomposing snakeskin he found in Diane’s backyard, Dan and I can roll our eyes conspiratorially like “get a load of that kid.” But when it’s just me steering the ship, I start to feel this weighty, lopsided responsibility for my children’s happiness that I’m pretty sure is endemic to privileged, 3rd world parents. And when I’m second guessing myself because of some small person’s protest, I whip out the handy refrain: I am a good enough mother, and if you put the snakeskin in a bag, you may sleep with it.
I’ve been noticing how I expect the kids and I to be this cohesive little tribe, because we all love chickens! and riding bikes! and exploring nature! Plus we’re kin! And some moments are like that and others are like walking through a maze of thumbtacks, blindfolded and barefoot. I’m looking for giggles and cohesiveness and inside jokes and instead I get stealth poops in the bath and such sibling meanness, that for any other two people, I’d recommend couples counseling. But the worst is when I tell myself “it’s supposed to be different. This moment is supposed to be different.”
My friend Claire is a single mom of two and on one particularly shitty day she told me “I wanted to throw in the towel! And then I realized I DON’T HAVE A TOWEL!” Perhaps laughter and acceptance are more powerful medicine than chasing perfect moments.
Enough about me. What’s that hunter Daddy doing out there in the dark, shadowy timber? I guess cell phone reception’s pretty spotty at 10,265 feet. No biggie. There’s a certain romance in imagining a solo hunter sneaking along the game trails, his yew bow tucked under his arm.
Did I tell you that Dan hunts with a homemade bow? Homemade, as in, he cuts down the tree, dries the wood for months, and performs a series of voodoo operations with hand tools to produce this:
The bow he’s hunting with this year came from one of the yew trees that Dan stalked while we lived in Ashland, Oregon during the winter of ’08/’09 (chasing sea level living for Col’s compromised lungs).
Hunting with a primitive bow in 2010 is only slightly different than it was for the Anasazi Indians who once inhabited this land, which is to say, it’s damn challenging. Dan hasn’t yet killed an animal with his bow. Our meat has come during rifle season, and given Dan’s superstitious nature around these events, I will add: for which we are infinitely grateful and we’re always open to a primitive bow being the swift, vehicle of death.
I’m not sure what’s harder, being a single parent or primitive archery.