Thursday, May 23, 2013

"The truth about me is...": 15 minutes of writing on this prompt from a friend

The truth about me is that I was not nearly as patient, kind, or selfless, as I acted for much of my life.  The truth is that a desperate grasping extended through me from my childhood origins, drawing to me so many who also only expected darkness in their lives.  I think by generous fate and no small effort of my own, my own light was not put out by that cloud, and so the hopeful ones have come along too, but often they have bored me or passed me by, not lighting the torch of my misery enough to keep me interested in their presence.

The truth about me is that I have lived many sad years.  Bright and sunny on the outside, deeply doubting and unable to console myself on my deepest levels.  Doubting love, feeling it to be an empty promise.  And yet, throwing myself at it again and again, blindly seeing neither the object of my latest affection, nor myself. 

The truth about me now is that since turning 40 I have discovered compassion for myself.  Choosing a life partner and bearing children has pointed me to the inarguable existence of my own desires and dreams, my own solid path apart from where I came.  I think I understand now that it takes some living to get here, to what I’m coming to think of as the Good Stuff.  When some of the old voices stop mumbling in my ears and I can hear my truer thoughts.  Much like it takes writing a lot of sad clown poems to get to one that sings instead of shuffling along, hoping to be good enough, it has taken some living for me to decide that it is more worth it to know myself than to remain loyal to others’ ideas of me, or who they need me to be.
The truth about me is that I was as I needed to be then, as I am now.  My younger self lived a certain kind of truth, albeit one that looks more dangerous and confused to me from my current vantage point.  This self that is becoming what might be called middle-age still gets confused, but I have a clearer sense of what brings me peace and happiness – and it is not the excitement of the race.  The race away from everything that scared me, the race toward the unavailable.  Top speed, in a dark room, racing.  The truth about me is that I am slowing down beautifully, and feel the confidence of walking intentionally, able to name some of the things that I want, and don’t, and the grace in the things I have.  The truth about me is showing itself, singing as she comes.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Best Mommy Blog that Never Was

I have been doing a lot of writing lately, not that anyone would ever know it, because the last three blog posts I've begun have been interrupted.  Going back to a writing about current events in the world or my home is almost impossible at this point, because things are moving so fast around here that news quickly becomes old.  And then, the limited time I have to come to my desk often ends up being spent deleting comments from hackers who have nothing better to do than plaster whacko gobbledy-gook all over the internet.  

Weeks past the Boston Marathon bombings, I am unable to revive my started post about that, and all the mother thoughts I had about the two young brothers primarily responsible.  I found much of the commentary out there deeply unsatisfying, in everything from parenting blogs online to articles in "The Nation," but I suppose when I compare most writers to Annie Lamott, who can knock my socks off with a Facebook post, those others don't really stand a chance.  I think "The Onion" hit the nail on the head in its beautifully profane article about that particular week, which also boasted a dead anti-gun violence bill in Congress two days after the bombing:,32105/

So today, a day in which I've already been able to both shower and floss my teeth, I know the stars are in some alignment that cannot be ignored and I better attempt to write.  And yet, my initial thoughts are swirls and whirls of things undone.  Previous blog posts.  Another batch of cookies for Teacher Appreciation Week.  A consulting project or two.  Updating the quotes on the right side of my blog.  And I'm sure there's a diaper in the works in the other room.  My older son Noah has been home sick from school for three days with a fever that just won't die down, so I've been having board game marathons with him while simultaneously working on two consulting projects and taking care of Arlo, who let's just say is not a napper in the same way Noah was.  He takes cat naps that are itty bitty compared to Noah's 4-hour sleep marathons as a baby.  These are the kind of naps that leave me sighing with joy at his peacefulness and my freedom one second and then sighing like a holy martyr as I give up the expectation of a little down time when I peek at him and his huge blue eyes are staring quietly up at me.

But he does have beautiful blue eyes, and it feels slightly blasphemous to complain about anything about parenting when I wanted him so badly, and tried for so long, and suffered such a miserable pregnancy to bring him into the world.  And got him all the same, at 43 years old.  Those beautiful clear blue eyes hold the answers to my prayers and are completely worth it.  When I look at Arlo I have a sense of what I have done, that we can move through almost anything toward what we want most, if we are clear that we want it.  He and Noah are so obviously worth the interruption of just about anything else in my life.

I often think about a local woman who owned a dry cleaning business nearby that closed down a couple of years ago.  I used to bring Noah in, and she would come out and exclaim about how beautiful he was.  She had raised boys of her own, and said how much she missed the time when they were little.  She was a beautiful petite woman who always dressed like she was going on a date, not like she was going to run the dry cleaning place, and I always left knowing that these are the best years of my life, when Noah and now Arlo are here with me.

That doesn't take away from the fact that I've been up at 4 a.m. the past three mornings, or that there are many things in my life that I also care about that are going undone, which at any given moment can really make me go batsh*t crazy.  But these important things are happening.  My children.  To my great satisfaction.  A wise person reminded me recently that making a decision to do anything by definition means another thing goes undone.  And that this is a painful or at least difficult part of life, and growing up.  And having a family, certainly.  Making choices.  But you know what?  Sometimes I still delude myself with thoughts of being a famous writer someday, who will get that way by some kind of shortcut or late-run burst, since my day-in, day-out commitment has been to a career in anti-violence work and in more recent years, my children.  My boys make me realize that anything is possible, so why not this dream too?