Pain punctuated with joy

Kate, at sweet/salty, is one of my favorite Internet writers. Her words are magical, full of gorgeous imagery and big leaps and blunt honesty. I love her post today. Some excerpts:

We like to think that life is joy punctuated with pain but it’s not. Life is pain punctuated with moments of joy.

The optimist in me wants to disagree with Kate about the joy/pain balance of life, but the pessimist in me senses that she is right. Perhaps it doesn’t matter, really, what the equation is, as long as we appreciate the joy and it sustains us through the pain. Of course everybody’s particular calculus is different, the balance of happy and sad, of light and shadow. It’s no secret that mine leans towards shadow, which is probably why Kate’s words resonate so strongly with me.

Life is not fairly represented in a Flickr photostream. It is not false, but it is not the whole truth. Memories are kneaded into something different from what we actually experienced. In the gulf between the two there is necessary sorcery

I love this image, of the sorcery that exists in the gulf between experience and memory. Yes, how true it is, that even as we live moments we are not always sure of how they will transmogrify in our memory. Some of the “big moments” of my life are blurs in my memory, while some of the most mundane and unspecial days are the ones I remember with the clarity and dazzling color of light through a prism. Some of the memories that I return to the most often for comfort and inspiration, crystalline in their gorgeous power, are of experiences that I did not realize the importance of as I lived them. Most, in fact.

I wanted to hang my motherhood up on the hook that has MOTHERHOOD pasted above it in Office Depot ticky-tack, and wipe my hands on my pants, and walk away for a while.

I disgust myself with how ungrateful I can be. I mourn the ability to be as blindly ungrateful as I please. I love my kids but I miss myself. I’m tired of wrangling and refereeing and spotting.

I very recently bemoaned my own lack of gratitude. My own inability to get out of my own way to see the glory and beauty of my life. I am so thankful to Kate for admitting her own moments of wanting to just be herself, without hangers-on and people needing her. I know the feeling well, and wish I had my own hook to hang one of my identities on for a while now and then. My children are at a tennis lesson and I miss them. Then they are home and I miss the silence of their absence. I look at them sleeping and am overcome with a wave of love so simultaneously fierce and gentle that it shocks me. They wake up, start bickering, and within five minutes the gentleness vanishes and the fierceness has shifted to something decidedly less sweet. Repeat. Ad nauseum. Is this seesaw just the way it is, from now on?