Tuesday, February 06, 2007


I was practically raised on horseback, if family legend has it right I rode our horse before I walked. (The same family said that I swam before I walked: at home in water and on horseback before on land--the metaphor for my life.) Anyway, when I started at Smith I still hoped that maybe I was a good enough equestrian to bring my horse. This was an outrageously expensive proposition, but if I could make the equestrian team, I could get some sort of a package that would make it cheaper to bring Keni San, my beloved.

The day of the try out arrived, and I rode my best. A Midwesterner in a strange land--The East--on a strange horse. The verdict? I had "too natural a seat" to succeed in the rarefied air of Eastern equestrian competition and I didn't make the cut. It took me at least a decade to understand that all those years of riding bare back and swimming from horseback doomed my career as a jock, but added a dimension to my life I would be enriched by. No one else in my family carried the passion for horses, so, while I was at school, one was sold, and my beloved Keni, a gentle, tall, gray quarter horse, was given to a riding school for disabled kids where he, no doubt, patiently enriched the lives of many challenged kids.

I bring my too natural seat to all I live. I cannot be but who I am: the love, the grief, the ragged around the edges self. And that is a whole picture. Being someone I'm not is like trying to do the perfect hunt seat, but having a natural rythmn for something a bit different. I don't think I'd make the cut. So I continue to say what I think, admit my faults, make mistakes and learn from them. I also continue to love with my whole heart this damaged world we have the great good fortune to live in each day.

This morning Ben flew into one of those stormy rages typical of toddlerdom. We had a trying pre-verbal bi-polar it's the end of the world if I can't watch TV sort of morning. After two time outs and trying to talk him down, I just sat there at the top of the stairs wondering what I was supposed to do next. I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was Ben.

"Here, Mommy," he said with a smile and handed me my glasses. "I love you," he added.

Just like that the rage passed. We managed to eat breakfast and get out the door into the 6 degrees below zero day with a minor fracass about whether mittens were required. They were.

Reaching this age has made me understand there are some things I simply am, others I am not. I am not the world's most perfect mother. I will never argue a case before the Supremes--something I thought in my younger days I'd be doing with regularity. (Change the world complex writ large.) I will never figure out why Ben's world falls apart, then is put back together without me helping. I will never understand what an unnatural seat would be on a horse, or why you would want to have such a thing.

Which is not to say I won't really like the scenery flashing by.

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