Dear Writing Moms,
Thank you all so much for your first contributions. I just sat down and read all five pages of posts and was thrilled and excited by your courage, willingness and vulnerability.
This is the first time that I have ever moderated anything on the web and I appreciate all the people who asked and answered technical questions for each other. That area is not my forte!
I am going to ask that this week, you post your feelings and writings without commenting on each other's work. This is to allow you to go deeper into yourself, knowing that you can really reveal the heart of your being with no possibility of praise or judgment. When we allow ourselves this uncommen spaciousness, we are really set free. So, although we are going forth as a writing community, for the next several weeks, I am going to ask you to stay with your own writing and process. Of course, I deeply encourage you to continue to read each other's work.
With that said, I want to tell you that I read all of your work and it was beautiful. Keep giving yourself the space and time to surrender and deepen. You have everything within you to write. Your humaness has provided you with everything you need. Continue to work with your own unique life and let the stories out that want to be told. I appreciated all the stories that focused on motherhood and all the stories that did not. I continue to urge you to allow all aspects of yourself to be present in your writing. Please do not feel that you MUST write about motherhood if there is something else more pressing that needs to be told. And of course the opposite also applies. If motherhood is primarily what needs to be written about and processed, this is the place!
You are all wonderful woman and I feel blessed and privileged to share this time with you!
Love, Tanya o.k.................................
Here comes the assignment !
Write ten minutes this week on the following three topics:
1.The time of my life.......
2. The last time........
3. My best day................
Write fifteen minutes this week on the following three topics:
1. The year when I was ten years old...........
Take a walk outside this week (alone or with your children). Before you go, choose a color that you will look for on your walk. Notice everything that is a shade of that color while you are walking. When you get back home, sit down and write fifteen minutes on what you saw, what it evoked, memories of that color etc.
Thank you for your words of encouragement! The assignments for this week are challenging and a little scary. Thank you for creating a safe environment where we can feel protected enough to dig deep.
This looks great! Thank you so much for putting this together. Am I too late to join? I don't see how to do it and I can't find this list of rules talked about in the first thread. Anyone know what I do?
I don't know if you are too late to join, but I can tell you that the rules are at the bottom of this page. Then all you have to do is start writing and post at least one of your essays by next Sunday. Hope that helps! Good Luck!
am I the only one that cannot see any rules at the bottom of the page?
I can't find rules either
Hi Everyone - you can link to Tanya's writing tips/rules here:
I will see if we can get a sticky post at the top so you can access these easier. Thanks!
I did not get to post by Sunday because we were at the ILs this weekend and got home late and exhausted. Is it too late to post; can I put it up later tonight? Thanks.
Go ahead and post last week's writing in this thread.
These are the rules that I find posted at the bottom of my page. I know some people said they couldn't see them:
You may not post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may edit your posts
Oh my. I just figured out that if I left this where I first posted it, noone would EVER see it. So I'm posting it again here. I'm so sorry it's late. I really tried to do this last week, just no luck. below is original post:LOL
Ok, I tried this site for days at the very beginning of last week and had no luck. Now I'm back from camping and you have all started and zoomed onward! Well, I'll try to catch up. I didn't see a lot of kitchen table responses, so I'll try that one.
The kitchen table brings me into places, back into people's lives that I can't get into without the chairs, knocking knees, candles flickering off the windows behind us, the dirty dishes stacked in front of someone. At my mother's table, I can see the chocolate smeared across my daughters face, licked from the bowl with a sprinkle on her chin. I can see my partner's belly sticking out from under his shirt, the drippings down the front. I can see my mother giving me "the look" - if I don't get up and do the dishes now, she will. Let her. I can't stand to move, to let this moment, too, pass unappreciated. We are healthy and fed and together and that deserves something more than cleaning up the dishes. We discuss and argue and laugh and I cherish the moments. The child gets up and sits first on grandpa's lap, then daddy's. She is pumped full of grandma's ice cream, otherwise she would doze off on daddy's shoulder.
I scan my dad, looking for something I know will eventually explode. He is angry, frustrated, alone in his feelings. He doesn't express because he doesn't know how to express himself in this time, place. I wish like hell that I could help, but I look at that table and I see the concrete world of limited options. I see the wood of the forest, cut and polished. I see the plates of clay, baked and painted. I see the pitcher of water, purified and chilled. Nothing is simple any more. Nothing feels natural except nakedness and even that has begun to feel strange. My body changed with this daughter. She grew and grew and so did I. This kitchen table is the same size as always, it never changes (no leaf). Yet it feels smaller, my knees knocking against both sides, table legs and people legs. My breasts feel fuller, want to sit along the table top and rest for a while. Nakedness changing into something foreign and unfamiliar.
I remember a kitchen table back in school, in Connecticut when the leaves outside were green with early fall, red/orange/gold with autumn, when the snow was a foot deep and I had to stay indoors and use imail to get to class. The kitchen table was home to my laptop, it fit just perfectly between my little breasts and the wall. It was a small table, fit for perhaps two skinny grad students. We were all skinny. We ate so much spaghetti, juiced so many carrots the table was spotted orange with sauce and juice.
I remember the kitchen table at Tank and Joan's house. They may not, because they had a servent, Sixpence, who did all the cooking. Made cookies from fresh ginger, and oxtail soup from eight dead cows, and kudu steaks. It was just outside of Harare, in Zimbabwe. They found bread, butter, whisky, beef, wheat when none was to be found. anywhere. they had friends over the border who sent them gas via trucks coming up from South Africa, gas for their mercedes. They offered me their home, their food, their beautiful gardens and pool and big TV. And I rejected them, it, all of it. I loved them and hated them. I was jealous of them and felt they had betrayed everything that had meaning. Their kitchen table sat unused by them for more than 35 years. Sixpence was the owner of that table, and he never once ate at it.
I remember the kitchen table growing up. A counter, really, where my two brothers and I sat (in proper order) and ate our breakfast while mom slept (for that we were grateful) and dad came tumbling downstairs and gulped half a mug of coffee and flew out the door to catch the commuter train into NYC. again. Every morning we watched, were quiet, opened the garage and rode bikes to school, leaving behind a ring from the orange juice cup on the kitchen counter. nothing said, nothing lost, nothing gained. That kitchen table feels empty, but for a few nights of pizza and once or twice we had fondue. I thought maybe, on those nights, that things might turn around. That she might not hit us any more. that Dad might get the hint and leave her, take us with, let us out of that jail. But it didn't. the next morning, the cups were waiting to be filled with orange juice, and Dad's coffee was brewed on self-timer, waiting for him before the train passed us by.
I remember the kitchen table at my friend Pam's house in high school. I ate a lot of meals there, drank a lot of milk, played a lot of cards. Everyone in that house smoked. We all shared Marlboro reds. Noone complained, although it was in that house, at that table that my allergies became a lifelong problem. Although I loved having Pam's house to escape into, I always wishe dthere were more peacefulness around that table. Pam's mom shouting at her or her brother, Pam's Dad making us laugh until someone ran off to pee, her brother sneaking in a bottle of booze. When her mom got sick we all missed having Pam's to go to, her kitchen table to lay bare our feelings and frustrations. Pam's Dad didn't feel like laughing much, and her mom couldn't speak anymore, couldn't bake anymore, couldn't help sort out our issues anymore. And Pam and her brother both fled into the bottle. We grieved for Pam, for Andy, for her Dad, and for her mom who got to see it all gown down before she died at 45.
And now there's a kitchen table with a spot just waiting for a kinderzeat, for a little brother who isn't born yet. There's a special place, although it could be anywhere because this table is round, for a sister who feels BIG and crawls on the floor and says 'this is what my little brother is going to be doing!' as she shoves the chairs out from the table, passing over and under the loopy legs of our own new table. The kitchen table where she does her art work, where we all eat breakfast at 7am, where she sits after school and tells me about lunch and recess. where we figure out shopping lists together and where, together, we keep life as simple, and as different from what I once knew, as possible.
Does it have to be Non-Fiction?
Once we write the intial no stopping, no editing can we edit the final product?
I love this, I love this I love this!!!
I have been wanting to start writing again and this sis just the thing to get me going. Thank you so much!!!
Hey Spotto - you are a local mom for me - also capital district res. nice writing with you!
I have gotten a few questions about editing.
It is really premature to be concerned with editing. At this point in the process, I would just encourage you to surrender into the discovery of yourself in the writing.Let it flow!!!
With that said,there will be the opportunity to edit pieces of work for those of you who are interested after the first six weeks. In the meantime, enjoy the journey.
Inspiration and blessings,
ok oddly i wrote this lasdt week, but i dind't find this thread until yesterday. Since it was mentioned that it would be ok to post last weeks if we missed it i thought i would since it seems like fate that i spontaneously did one of last weeks assignments.
The day my baby...
My baby was born on Ash Wednesday. I didn't know it was Ash Wednesday until I was in the delivery room and some of the nurses had the tell tale black smudge cross on their foreheads. I remember as a child my mother would take my sisters and i to church on Ash wednesday and then to school.We were happy to miss some school, but embaressed by the black smudges on our foreheads that noone else had.We wanted to wipe them off but felt it would be sacreligous to, although at the time we didn't know what sacreligous meant. I doubt if we ever had even heard the word, but we knew in that guilty Catholic way that it would be wrong to wipe off this sign of our faith. So we tried to "accidentally" rub our foreheads on things, on each other, to remove the smudge but not God's good grace's.
When she was born those black smudges were reassuring and reminiscant of my childhood. It felt like the hand of God was right there as I pushed her out. As my skin stretched as I burnt, I thought I tore and I bore down. I screamed and screamed I wanted to stop, i tried to stop, but the midwife's words echoed in my head "it was up to me 30 minutes or 30 hours. PUSH" I pushed and they encouraged. They told me I was beautiful and I wanted to rip their heads off because this wasn't beautiful this was PAINFUL. I pushed and after her head came out the rest of her just slipped out like a fish with a warm gush of liquid to soothe me. They put her in my arms and I just said "it's a real baby" and she was perfect and all that pain turned into beauty.
I'm going to post two. The first one left me so wiped out, I needed to write about something that made me laugh, and I feel compelled to share that, after the first one.
The first time...
I bought a bottle of formula, I thought my heart would break with such frenzy into sharp little pieces that they'd come flying out through my chest. I pushed the carriage through the pharmacy aisles; I hadn't yet mastered the sling. So I clutched the handle of the carriage until my fingernails dug into my palm, keeping physical contact with my baby through the strength of my grip, extending tendrils of energy to her little body. The little body that was at risk of failing, the little body I could not nourish.
Newly born, my baby immediately loved to nurse. She'd look blissful, make little purring noises. Then she'd wipe a little milk musdache from her upper lip with a tiny fist, and plunk her head down, to sleep, nose near my nipple. Dh and I called it aromatherapy.
But when she was 10 days old she grew restless and unhappy. I nursed constantly, trying to build my supply to meet the demands of this first growth spurt. But I knew something was going wrong. The doctor said Dd was fine, that I was a worried new mother who needed to relax. So I got the name of another doctor, and hunted up a lactation consultant. She watched Dd nurse, her lips pursed. I lay in my bed, exposed, scrutinized, and she made her proclamation. Too many sucks per swallow, and in order to decide what to do, I needed to get Dd weighed. So I went back to the doctor I didn't like, put Dd on their baby scale. And she fell below the weight level at which the lactation consultant said I'd need to supplement.
I knew. Before the lactation consultant left, I bought the supplementer from her. Now I was in the pharmacy down the block from the doctor's office. Hunched over the stroller in the posture of a cancer patient on the way to pick up a prescription for chemotherapy. My breasts, that apparantly did not have enough milk to sustain my baby, had enough milk to ache. The ache deep within my chest was my incredelous heart. I kept my sunglasses on, lest anyone see my redrimmed eyes, and point a finger at the post partum depression case in aisle 2.
I gave myself a pep talk. Why be sad? You have a beautiful, healthy baby. You figured out there was a problem, and you're doing everything you can to fix it. I reached for the can of Similac and felt a jolt up my arm, the poison laughing at me. You and your organic baby. All through pregnancy, you were so strict, so careful, now you get to pour my hormones and antibiotics and GMO corn syrup down her throat. Gotyougotyougotyou.
Back home, Dd and I cried at the same time while I filled the supplementer, fumbled with the little pair of fine tubes, slung the thing around my neck, taped myself up. All the time it took me to do that, she lay in her bassinett, waiting and wondering, none too peacefuly, what on earth was going on. I lifted Dd and felt like more machine than mother. Fat tears and tiny drops of breastmilk and odious formula dripping, we both fussed at the tubing, but she latched on, because she loved the breast. And she drank, and drank, and drank, big hearty swallows. She emptied the supplementer of the amount the lactation consultant recommended, and she cried while I put her down to fill it again. Half way through the second batch of formula, the hungry little thing relaxed, and cooed, and went to sleep more peacefully than she had in days. And I cried. I cried I couldn't give her the milk she needed from me, I cried that this formula was doing what I could't, I cried that something my baby (and I) loved so much, nursing, seemed to be coming to an end.
By the way, I switched all names to Dh, Dd, IL, etc.
The kitchen table...
was where I knew we'd get busted.
They're Dh's parents, and it's fine by them if I am a Goddess Worshipping Messianic Reform Jew, as long as they don't have to be reminded of it. They pretty much hope I keep the Messianic part, dump the rest, go to their church, and take the rest of the family with me. So if Dh doesn't want to tell them that we're giving Dd an introduction to the traditions of BOTH sides of the family, I'm not going to nose in where he thinks he's doing the right thing. He knows them. If his father says, now the best drill is Black and Decker, and Dh buys Sears, there's hell to pay. So he opted not to tell them that we are taking Dd someplace other than the church in which he was raised, the church where Dh's father was a minister.
I knew that we couldn't keep it a secret forever. But awhile back when Dh shared with MIL that visited a Unitarian Church, oh, was there angst over the fate of our souls! So not wanting to give worry to MIL and FIL, I buried my head in the sand right next to Dh's, even though our Judiasm, closeted as far as his parents were concerned, felt to me evocative of Ann Frank's experience.
The longer we went not telling them, oh, by the way, we took Dd to a synagogue, the harder it got. Those Friday evenings we were unavailable at the dinner hour...a concert series. Well they did have a special music program, after all. Oh, we saw them one night after, and Dd out and out told them we were at Shabbot, but they figured she was babbling and we got away without translating, Sabbath. In the cloud of our denial, it seemed the easiest way, was to wait for Dd to bust us.
I knew it would happen at a meal, since Dd likes to imitate my prayers. When she isn't just repeating them for the feel of exotic words prancing on her tongue. I just didn't realize it would happen at MIL's table, since Dd seems to associate the prayers only with home or synagogue. I figured some day, we'll have MIL and FIL over for dinner and Dd will just bust us.
But there we were, after a long drive to arrive in MIL's kitchen with it's Swedish decorations, like something from Prairie Home Companion. Piled on another table, are the pictures of gravestones from last month's geneology trip to Norway. And MIL is standing at the pot of chili, and she calls across the room to Dd, “Dd, shall we say a prayer before we eat?”
And Dd says, in a fully adult tone of voice, “What's your prayer?”
MIL's holding her spoon in the air. “Well, what's YOUR prayer?”
And Dd is off and running, “Baruch atoh Adonai Elohenu...” and then she realizes everyone is staring at her, so she ends with, “Mommy, you finish.”
MIL's come close to the table now, the spoon is still in the air, and she's looking from Dd to Dh to me, all around, I'm not sure for what, for horns sprouting maybe. Because I know she doesn't know the sound of Hebrew. And FIL, for all his seminary training, mostly has his mind on when is the chili coming, so it hasn't registered with him either, unless he just plain doesn't remember the Hebrew he had to learn in school.
I know that Dh is thinking that MIL is thinking this is some Wiccan chant, and now he had better come up with something fast to ease her mind. So he says, “Oh yeah, she speaks Hebrew.”
With that, MIL takes her seat and her prayer is recited. Then Dd looks up, and says, “Mommy, you do it.” So the meal was doubly blessed.
"Mmmm", "mmmmm", comes an urgent cry around a mouth-full, from the child in the back seat.
I look into the rearview mirror. My four year old son, scruffy and sweaty from our romp at the beach, sits triumphantly with a round lump of pink bubblegum between his lips; drooling and smiling.
I catch my own reflection then. I am four again, sitting beside my mother in the blue station wagon; the one with wood paneling and vinyl seats. "Afternoon Delight" is on the radio. I'm smiling around a wad of green Trident.
"Hooray, sweetie! Your first bubble!", I say, and smile at the memory.
I just found this thread, I usually just head right for the "Life with a Babe" forum...may I join you? It is SO cathartic for me to write these days! I will write the assignment and get back to you, if that's alright. LOVE the bonus assignment, I think I'll choose something not usually found in nature and see what I can find!
I want to protect Ella. Because from the first I did not recognize her. And my mom called her a changling. And she was born and gazed into my eyes and me into hers, us both questioning who are you. And then so quickly she was taken from me when her sister was born....
And I want to protect Sybil from my anger as I slam down my pen because she has woken up and now I will have to go nurse her and she won't go back to sleep and then I will have to get her up and play with her. And as I take a deep breath I know I will be calm as I gently lay her back on the bed and offer her my breast. But I have bottled up the anger inside me and now as she starts to suckle I worry that she is drawing the anger from me and will know I am not with her hers at this moment.
And when she gets up I want to protect her from my indifference as I try to continue to write. Because I need to write because I am lost and maybe she is just trying to protect Ella so I don't write about her death.
But I need to write because I am unhappy and my husband is unhappy and I feel I need to find a way out of this maze or dungeon or depth of unhappiness. Because I want to protect them from this unhappiness. And I try to blame their father, because if he was happy I think I would be happy, content to just be with them. But then he thinks not and sometimes I trust his judgements of me because even with all of his mixed up hurts from the past he is often right.
And so I don't protect her but decide to write and she plays by herself and I hope she is not feeling lonely or neglected.
Someone has taken a piece of charcoal and smudged the whole outdoors. The storm has been brewing all morning as I sit in bed with my two nurslings, my bottom aching and sore and my need for sleep drumming through my head. And as the large drops come down faster it is hard to see across the gravel county road to the pond. But still I stare through the rain trying to make out the details of the leaves blowing off the trees bending from their straight line of the windbreak. The lightning flashes still far away.
And then I see Maddy is out by the pond and am surprised because I thought she was at the neighbors with her sisters while her father tended whatever farm things can be tended in the rain.
She is circling the pond and as she slips I feel my heart jump into my throat and remember Sylvia telling me that under no circumstances to risk my babies life for hers. And I didn't know what this gentle but crazy white haired old lady, wrinkled and gnarled and bent over for good, was saying. But she said Maddy was a ghost child and to let her be.
And now I cry as I see Maddy fall in the pond, splashing but this is no play and I must decide to run to get her and there is no time to think. So I run saying a prayer dear babies be safe. And my breasts try to flop as I try to hold them running and slipping through the cornfield to the pond.
And I wade into the muck water where I last saw her and dive forward my arms searching and sweeping until they grasp a wet body that I pull up onto the bank. And thank god she is ok.
And she jumps up ok.
I posted last week's projects before I found the Week 1 thread to read. Wow, lots of intimidating talent out there in MDCland!
Before I chicken out, here's my next post:
The time of my life...
The time of my life when my mother would play Strauss waltzes, and I'd close my eyes and be carried away to the ballroom of a palace, wear an opulent dress, and swirl with a handsome partner under glittering chandeliers.
The time of my life when I still dreamt of college and achievement, but resigned myself to being the cook, cleaner, and caretaker for my father, grandfather, and uncle. The time of my life when I made the clearheaded decision to marry the eager young man who offered a proposal, because it was the only alternative.
The time of my life when I realized I'd grown to love him. The time of my life when our daughter was born, and I saw that there was nothing else I really ever wanted. Everything that had happened to me led to this family, my reason for living was for this baby, and for the ones who I imagined would follow.
The time of my life when I opened my front door, baby in my arms, to one who brought news that my beautiful husband had been killed. The time of my life when drop by drop, I lost everything I knew, but I still had my spirit because I was a mother.
The time of my life when a warm gentle hand reached across a canyon to me, but politics and prejudice built a wall between us...and walls within us.
The time of my life when I could do nothing to prevent my daughter from being snatched from me by the claws of hate. The time of my life when she was gone and my soul was so shattered, there was nothing left inside of me to live, so I lay down and died.
The time of my life, before I was born.
can I join...I am so excited about this...I read the rules..
Great to have another Cap. reg. writer here! Good to be writing with you!
The time of my life for bearing children is drawing to a close~38~how did I get to be 38? A blink ago I was 24 and trying not to laugh too much because it created lines in my face. I feared aging at 24 but then again, what did I know, I was only 24.
Then my first daughter was born..and of course I couldn't STOP laughing. There was too much joy! To hell with lines! I breathed her breath and she breathed mine and I thought I was complete.
Then her sister made more lines! She is my spirited child, my genius in short pants who challenges me, loves me and keeps me young somehow as the lines grow deeper around my eyes.
But I was only 29 then so there was lots of time for more babies!
But oh how long I waited for my newest joy! 9 long years between babies. She is a different sort, a child whose mother has deeper lines and that is to her advantage. She chose me as her mother because she needs the mother I am now not the mother I was then!
Please one more! Just once more to feel that child inside and keep it all to myself for a while. Once more to push life into the world and feel that awe-inspiring moment of becoming a mother!
A 4th child, unlikely as I quickly approach forty. The lines are deep, the furrows and wrinkling beginning. I know the reality is I a am unlikely to be mama to four.
But I need another baby! Those beautiful pursed lips at the breast, large eyes looking at you from your cradled arms.
What I have learned at 38 is that the lines do not matter, it's how you earn them that counts and in joy I earned each and every one!
I believe a lot more joy and few more lines would be entirely welcome!
The last time I smoked a cigarette I was two days pregnant. I haven't told anyone that before (my husband knows it though). Sometimes I feel like I care too much about what others think of my parenting style (smoking two days pregnant included) and other times I feel like I did the other day at Old Navy when I told the woman who called Banyan "the chubbiest baby I've ever seen" not to pinch his cheeks. Becoming a parent really elicits a LOT of never before dispensed opinions, doesn't it? Banyan is fine, of course. No negative effects from my one lapse in willpower. That also was the last time during my pregnancy that I drank wine or smoked herb either. At least the toxins all filtered in at the same time, before my placenta was attached. (I'm good at making excuses for myself!)
Banyan is more than fine. He is every cliché I can think of all rolled into one. You know, ray of sunshine, bundle of joy, light of my life…He really is all of those things. I can't wait for him to wake up from his nap right now. He has been sleeping for two and a half hours…He should be especially happy when he wakes. His eyes will open, then slowly close again to teeny slits. I will go and sit next to him and tell him good morning (even though it's 5:33 in the afternoon) and touch him and smell him and kiss him. He will give me a big, gummy, uninhibited, perfectly perfect smile. I will nurse him and then take him to the beach to watch the sunset. Last time we went for sunset, he found a pelican with his eyes and followed him as he flew across the water, talons touching gracefully down every other wave.
The time of my life is still looming in the distance. I don't think I've had it yet. But when I do have it I want to experience it with my husband and my girls.
Some say that high school is the time of your life. Yeah, right. Not unless you really enjoy peer pressure, homework, gossip, being bullied, ar getting your heart broken.
Some say college is the time of your life. And maybe it is... if you get a chance to go. But if you don't go and instead, get married and start a family, have you missed out on the time of your life? Hmmmm. I wonder. No, no I don't think so.
The time of my life is slowly unfolding. Closer now than it's ever been. I've surrendered to motherhood. I know who I am. I know what my family's needs are. But the time of my life won't happen until my needs are met.
What is it that I need now? Perhaps more free time? A clean home? The dishes put away? A new haircut? Maybe some new jeans? No. No. That can't be it.
I need to feel content. To know that I am secure. Secure in my role as a mother, a lover, a friend, a woman. Security in myself.
The time of my life is approaching. I can see it in the distance.
And like the sun rises to shine its light across the dew-drops on the grass, the time of my life approaches.
My best days were during my childhood. Before marriage, kids, housework, and war were a concern. Before any heavy burdens were placed upon my back. My best days were, by far, during my childhood spent on family camping trips.
I recall coming home from school on several occasions to find that my dad had arrived home from work early. Always such a pleasant surprise. I would find him sorting through various boxes in the garage, looking for camping gear. Tent, tarp, stove, rope, sleeping bags. And don't forget the big green lantern! He would load our gear into the van. We would find some extra things to take (Barbie, blankie, markers) and off we would go. Usually a state park. Sometimes with a lake or a stream. Always with tall trees. The smell of the campground still lingers in my memory.
What is it about nature that would bring out the best in our family? I remember being so careless and utterly happy the entire time. Swinging from the thick vines like we were Tarzan. Collecting acorns. Looking at fallen leaves. Following strange bugs. Standing statuesque as a deer and her fawn entered our sight. Perhaps there was no better cure for pety sibling rivalry than a weekend campout.
I can remember curling up in my sleeping bag in the tent, wearing extra layers of clothes, so as not to get too chilled. Without fail, I would have to wake up in the middle of the night to go pee. Always scared that a strange "creature of the night" was waiting for me.
And when we awoke with the first gleamings of the morning sun, we all felt so refreshed and alive. Cleansed. And victorious that we had made it through the night outside of our home and cozy beds. I remember that the tent was always on a hill of some kind, and feeling slightly off balance as I stood up. Dad would set up his green camp stove and make pancakes. "Eat them before they get cold!" This, accompanied with too-hot hot cocoa. And bacon and eggs - Dad's staples. Always a small campfire going with marshmallows to roast. And after breakfast, it was time to explore some more. More deer to watch. More bugs to follow. More vines to swing from.
I hold these memories so sacred and dear. When my daughters are old enough to embark on such adventures, I will be there to let them. I will give them their "best days".
My best day is made up of days. They started before puberty, all in a group, all full of freedom. Days and days of summer camp, with friends and bug juice and a slimy-bottomed lake. Days and days of winter vacation, snow outside and TV and blankets inside. Days and days of visiting Grandma in Southern California where the sun smelled sweet and light, just like my grandma's body powder. Days and days of springtime bike rides all over town, up and down the neighborhood streets where my friends lived, until a caravan of kids were riding around like nutcases, no helmets (of course) and the warm spring air finally making its way into our world after a long hibernation.
Before I cared who cared about my clothes, shoes, haircut. It seems once I realized that some people actually DID care how I wrote on the board, what kind of shoes I wore to the 7th grade dance, or whether I had a pair of Jordache jeans tight enough to choke lemonade out of a lemon, the fun ended. And for a long time, it was really over. I hated myself, the kids around me, my parents. It all seemed so vague and unreal. And then, somewhere in California, it became real again. The drugs wore off, maybe, and I had a new best day, a grown-up best day when I enrolled in school, got a regualr part-time job, and enjoyed my life without caring, once again, what people thought about my clothes, shoes, haircut. I enjoyed the temperature outside, the posters I chose for my walls, the comfort of shoes that were slightly ugly but fit me well. I never did mind, ever again, whether someone was inspired by my clothing, or my haircut. I left it behind, left it with the self-abuse and the anger at the world that was so characteristic of my late teens and early 20's. I lost something, then, a spice - a fever - and I gained back my happiness. And now, through the frustrations and discomfort and even downright neglect of motherhood, so long as I remember not to care about what other people care about, I find happiness. And new best days are creeping together, full of afternoon bike rides with my daughter, snow days full of Bedknobs and Broomsticks, summer days full of crummy HiC and slimy-bottomed lakes. I only hope they are part of her best days.
I would like to join too.
We're out of Brillo pads again...no way to get the gunk off the frying pan. I fill it with the hottest water and some soap and let it soak.
What I really want to do is to take a Brillo pad to you--to strip away the leftovers of life; brittle, closed, concealed. I want to make you raw, vulnerable and clean. You'd balk--never allow it. You prefer SOS pads, anyway.
I want to scrub away years of bitterness like particles of dried egg or drippings from a roast. I want to rinse you under scalding water until that hardness around you cracks, blisters, peels away.
What happened within you that turned life's events sour and ugly? You see the world and everything (everyone) in it as a disappointment. You see your children as your own failures--stacked up like so many dirty dishes.
You've said aloud that if you knew then what you know now, you'd have never married nor had children. You'd have become a teacher or a missionary or a horse farmer...done something so drastically different...done something "useful and worthwhile".
Now, you age. Particles of leftovers stuck to you, dried and caked and part of your material. You are "too old" to make a difference or to care or to reflect on things. Too hardened and brittle to consider letting go. There is no scrubbing vigorous enough, no rinse effective against the years and your choices. Your choices and the events of your life, not much different from those many made, and make. Yet yours leave a residue, built up over time. You are so encased with these remnants--having neglected to clean as you go. No chance or choice to reflect, to change, to grow, to incorporate experiences into your being in a way which makes you better, not bitter.
And I cannot make you clean. I cannot give you a fresh start. My scrubbing is futile and wears me out.
I can only tend to my own dishes with more care.
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