Friday, March 25, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
You know how it is when you read a piece that so resonates within? That's how I felt the first time I visited and read Amy's fabulous words at The Never-True Tales. She's a talented writer and an on-line community builder. She writes, "Blogging is many things to many people, but for me, it's about writing. It's about the meditation between the mind and the fingers on the keyboard, the puring of thought and feeling in a way that becomes organic and good." Is it any wonder that I so enjoy this new-found connection?
Then I learned about Amy's awesome creation, Won't You Be My Neighbor--which she hosts so writers can connect and discover each other's incredible words. And this community is so important to me...a virtual life-line. Today I have the honor of hosting Amy as my neighbor. (And as luck would have it, I'm guest posting as her neighbor today, too.) After you've read her fabulous words below, won't you go visit Amy? Maybe you can slip off your suit coat, pull on a wool cardigan and climb into your slippers first....
The Witching Years, by Amy of The Never-True Tales.
It’s staying light a bit longer each day, but we still have a long way to go until spring. I can tell because I still have to switch my car headlights on driving the kids home from the karate studio or the soccer fields, still have to flip the porch light before calling them in from the neighborhood streets. In another lifetime (which wasn’t too long ago), I’d sit out these winter evenings indoors, the kids too young for unsupervised neighborhood roaming, my own motherhood too new to risk a public toddler meltdown or unscheduled nap after nightfall. From my kitchen window, I’d watch the sun disappear behind the city long before dinner was served, and something heavy and panicky would rise in my chest and sink in my belly as the outside darkness closed over me like a blanket, locking me into a fate of 5 pm until 7 pm with only my babies for company.
It would have been so easy to switch on Backyardigans and switch off myself, but most days, I resisted the lure of the TV. Instead, I’d play cars on the mat in the boys’ yellow-walled room, listening to thevrooom-vroooom vibrating against their lips, then to the bubbles blown in the bath, the run of the water from the faucet as they brushed their tiny, pearly teeth. I’d find Hidden Pictures, change diapers, press playdough between my hands. I’d pause to find blankies and binkies before scraping the dinner dishes and setting them on the sideboard to dry.
I was on my own most evenings back then, Charlie working late. Every weeknight. Every weekend. (I still can’t believe we ever got used to that, but we did.) As I waited for 7 pm, I’d finish the forgotten loads of laundry on the bed, each t-shirt and burp cloth and OshKosh overall cooled and wrinkled in the heap. I’d stare out the blackened windows and wonder how I’d make it another hour. Another twenty minutes. Another ten.
This was my Witching Hour, but what people forget to tell you is how the hours add up, strung together end-to-end, day-to-day to become Witching Years. They commence in those first black nights of nursing a newborn, and they roll on and on until all your children are old enough to take the bus to school. Or at least old enough to wish they could.
And some mothers are great at it–love it, even–but not me. I floundered. I immersed myself in my boys: their needs and their wants, their meals and their clothes and their toys. I waved the white flag and gave myself over to them completely, and this was how it had to be. On the surface, I even looked good at it. Underneath, I was drowning. (Needing. Wanting.) I spent my days sinking and my nights kicking my way back to the top, to where at least the waves slapped me in the face instead of swallowing me whole, arms stroking upward through the dark. I stopped writing. I stopped exercising. I stoppedthinking, truth be told. I think maybe, there wasn’t enough oxygen to my brain.
It’s clearer here, on the other side. In the light. With kids who brush their own teeth and do their own homework and get their own snacks. I know now that being a mom of young children, staying in the house day after day, parenting solo 80% of the time…well, it is what it is. (Oh, is it ever.) I know that I did my best.
I also know I’ll never get those years back, as much as they often make me shudder: those years that passed so slowly as to nearly grind backward. Those years so long I measured my children’s ages inmonths instead. And that’s a travesty, because I left a piece of myself there. Something raw, and unmeasured, and instinctively maternal. Something sacrificial.
It was that something in me that gave way, that moved to the rhythm of my children’s sleep cycles, to the sunrise and the twilight, to the stirring of the oatmeal and the snapping of the car seats and the hefting to the hip, to the breast, to the mouth to kiss the lips.
It was that something that laid down arms. Set aside dreams. And that something was…there’s no other word for it…bewitching.
Thank you, Amy for your beautiful words, so honestly and eloquently woven together. It's great having you as my neighbor, and guest, today.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Maybe we ...have the same single and fundamental task: to make peace with the roads we have travelled, as straight or winding as they have been, and to trust that we are up to the task of what lies ahead, whatever it may be.
E.L. Doctorow’s quote comes to mind: “You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” Maybe now my job is to stop squinting past the headlights. It’s only causing me panic that I can’t see, hurting my eyes, and taking my attention away from what is right in front of me.
Lindsey Mead, A Design So Vast
To go in the dark with a light is to know the light. To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight, and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings, and is travelled by dark feet and dark wings.
- Wendell Berry
These Wendell Berry lines have been banging around in my head for a few days. (fighting – or harmonizing – with Annie Lennox and the omnipresent Willy W, of course). I so agree with what he implies, with the notion that to really know the dark we have to surrender to it. We have to let our eyes adjust, which means we must go in without any external light. And that, in that darkness, there is a beauty that we never imagined.
Berry’s words make me think, first of all, about internal darkness. Of what it takes for us to really know the darkness there, to gaze into the ragged hole that exists in the center of all of our souls, to push on the bruise, to feel the wound. Perhaps ironically, for me, I have often described the feeling of that intense darkness as staring into the sun. It has been the focus of the last months of my life, for sure: relenting in my frantic white-knuckled attempts to control, accepting the way it is and in so doing releasing my desperate focus on the way I wanted it to be.
It has only been when I have really let myself lean into that darkness, accept that my deepest wound is the profound sadness of impermanence, that I’ve started seeing the gifts that are there. As I sink into the way my life actually is, everyday I find unexpected gems buried in the mundane. Sure, I also cry a lot more. Every single day I face the truth that this is the last day that my baby will be 5, the last time I’ll have a Beginner, thelast, the last, the last. I grieve and mourn constantly, far more than I imagined possible.
But there’s also beauty here. Surprising, staggering, serendipitous beauty. Divinity buried in the drudgery. Dark feet and dark wings.
Thank you, dear friend, for honoring me with your words today.