Snowed in today. This is for real: snowing sideways this morning, now sleeting hard and cold. I have been puttering around the house most of the morning, doing laundry, reading, cooking. I made nut brittle, spiced pecans, and chocolate cherry cookies (really more like little bundles of yumminess, not really cookies). It is a no-holds-barred TV day. Surprisingly relaxing, when the children aren’t trying to kill each other.
Lacy sent me a great book about pregnancy and early motherhood that I loved (thanks, Lace!). I am following it up with a collection of essays on the same topic by some of my favorite writers. It is a trip through some familiar, soothing words – an excerpt from The Blue Jay’s Dance by Erdrich, and some of Adrienne Rich’s journal entries that I quoted in my thesis. Nothing better on a day like today than the well-worn, deeply-known cadences of sentences and paragraphs I have read over and over again.
“Life seems to flood by, taking our loves quickly in its flow. In the growth of children, in the aging of beloved parents, time’s chart is magnified, shown in its particularity, focused, so that with each celebration of maturity there is also a pang of loss. This is our human problem, one common to parents, sons and daughters, too – how to let go while holding tight, how to simultaneously cherish the closeness and intricacy of the bond while at the same time letting out the raveling string, the red yarn that ties our hearts.”
“In talking to other women over the years, I begin to absorb them somehow, as if we’re all permeable. Some days, I’m made up of a thousand mothers who have given one ironic look, one laugh at the right moment, one exasperated wave, one acknowledgment. Mothering is a subtle art whose rhythm we collect and learn, as much from one another as by instinct. Taking shape, we shape each other, with subtle pressures and sudden knocks. The challenges shape us, approvals refine, the wear and tear of small abrasions transform until we’re slowly made up of one another and yet wholly ourselves.”
both Erdrich, from The Blue Jay’s Dance
“To opt for kids is to opt for chaos, complexity, turbulence, and truth. Kids will make you love them in a way you never thought possible. They will also confront you with all the painful and unsavory emotions that humans put so much energy into trying to avoid. Children will teach you about yourself and about what it’s like not to be up to the demands of the most important responsibility you’ll ever have. They’ll teach you that you are capable of deep compassion, and also that you are definitely not the nice, calm, competent, clear-thinking, highly evolved person you fancied yourself to be before you became a mother.”
“I also think that kids are the best teachers of life’s most profound spiritual lessons: that pain and suffering are as much a part of life as happiness and joy; that change and impermanenence are all we can count on for sure; that we don’t really run the show; and that if we can’t find the maturity to surrender to these difficult truths, we’ll always be unhappy that our lives – and our children’s – aren’t turning out the way we expected or planned. Life doesn’t go the way we expect or plan, and nobody’s perfect, not ourselves or our children.”
both Harriet Lerner, from Vulnerability and Other Lessons