Crack Questions

Drew has become obsessed with the cracks in the floor at Esperanza’s. Esperanza’s is our family’s favorite Mexican food dive, and I’ve considered sending Drew there to work in exchange for enchiladas, much like the boy Samuel who served in the Temple.

Last week he noticed a corner where the tile seems to have been shattered by a heavy object. “What are dose cwacks, Mommy?”

He asks me this all the time. In the car. When I pick him up from school. He will even change the subject from Chick-Fil-A to revisit the Esperanza cracks.

Then he noticed the cracks in the dirt below his swing in our backyard. “It hasn’t rained for a while,” I told him last week, “So the ground gets dry, and it cracks.”

After the rain this weekend, Drew asked me out of the blue if it “had helped dose cwacks?” I said I’m sure it had.

He confirmed it later, jumping from the car to inspect the site in question. “Yook, Mommy! The cwacks are all gone!” This was a moment of awe, like an elf had dragged a giant eraser to render the dirt smooth and seamless.

I wonder what other cracks Drew sees.

It’s difficult enough to pretend to be a theologian or even someone who cares for the less fortunate, but pretending to be a good mother is almost impossible. So much effort goes into actually being a good mother that all energy is sapped for putting on a show. People lost in the Serengeti do not have time to apply makeup; they find bark to gnaw and appearance doesn’t factor in. I’ve actually met women so incapable of pretending to be good mothers that they ratchet up pretensions in all other areas of life to make the contrast seem clownish, more humorous. If you can’t hide it, you can exploit it for laughs. Maybe it wasn’t someone I met, after all. Maybe it was me. At any rate, it seems like everyone can see my inadequacy, from the checkout lady at Tom Thumb to my child’s preschool teacher. I wear “second-rate” stitched on my Juicy jumpsuit like a scarlet letter.

Can my kids see it too?

Can they sense when I’m avoiding them by surfing Facebook?

Do they ask themselves if other mothers yell at their children for dropping their spoon, or do they assume this is how life is because they don’t have another mother, because they only have me?

If they could, would my children express a desire for me to spent more time with them — not just laying on the couch like a female slug while they play Wii — take them to the park more often and nuzzle their ears in arm chairs and invite them into the kitchen like miniature friends? Is this thought actually present in their minds, or at least batting around their hearts, inarticulate?

Do they sense the void in my soul when I’m flitting from Sonic to Target, tired, yet somehow bored, trying to be brave, trying to be a better example of someone living life in a meaningful way when I haven’t made room for the Spirit of God to dwell?

Can they tell I’m trying at all?

I wonder if they would appreciate it if they could, or if they would just wonder why I have to make life so difficult. What WOULD be wrong with eating mac n’ cheese for every meal or getting tucked in 42 times at bedtime or watching 10 straight hours of Caillou? What would be wrong with giving them my morning, noon and night; my best years, hopes, and dreams?

I wonder what I really owe them, and what I owe myself, and if all this talk about owing anyone anything is completely off-base. At the end of the day, if my children must see the cracks, I hope what shines out despite dysfunction can be all-redeeming in their eyes.

Last question, and I’m done: how much do their eyes matter at all?
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