Yesterday I wrote about my bad day. What I didn't tell you was how the day began (which might explain a lot).
As any good mother should, I dress and brush my offspring and we walk to the library for that SAHM staple, Story Hour. There, along with other blandly smiling and dark-circle-eyed mothers, we sing "Twinkle, Twinkle" and "Open, Shut" and listen to the soft-spoken librarian reading King Bidgood's in the Bathtub (really good!). My two sit attentively like the in-public angels they usually are. We do a simple craft before thanking the librarian and her sweet volunteer and go on our way.
All's good! We've gotten some fresh air and exercise, some education, I'm feeling confident with my new haircut and push-up bra, and my children have made me proud.
We head downstairs to pick out our weekly DVDs. E.T. and Oliver. Now it's Mommy's turn to choose her visual brain-suck of choice. I find them each a book and some slightly disturbing giant hand chairs on which to sit while I quickly grab something. Little Lady is happyly absorbed in a book on wizards and witches but Tator isn't overly impressed with the polar bear book I offer. I sweetly ask him to give me just one moment. Crawling under the circle of cupped hands is more appealing to him. So, I ask him if he'd like to help Mommy pick out a movie. And I turn to go.
And he's off. I swing back around and he's disappeared. Hoarsely, I whisper-yell for him. But he's nowhere to be seen. Then, over the other side of the reference desk I spot his curly tete.
And he's off again. Like a baby elephant he's pounding through the still of the computer-gazing, paper-reading, and book-browsing public. I speed-walk after him, and the game is on. He squeals with joy (or fear at the look on my face?) as he corners bookracks and knees.
Each time I get within reach I miss him by millimeters. Here I am, a grown woman running through the library fuming like the dragon on the wall of the children's reading room. And the imp is having a blast knowing his mother is playing this wonderful game of cat and mouse.
Finally, I have him cornered, and in front of a woman trying to quietly research, I wrestle my screeching child to the ground. The look she gives me is one not of sympathy or empathy, it's more like disdain. And at that point I feel only disdain for myself. I cannot control my child and, like an idiot, I lost my senses to the point that I humiliated myself in this public place. My anger flares.
With captured child held tightly in my arms I grab my bag and instruct Little Lady to leave the movies and come! NOW!
I march out, careful not to catch anyone's eye. I throw Tator in the stroller and power-walk the fifteen minute walk home in half the time. Little Lady is near tears because the movies were left behind. I try to soothe her with the assurance that I am not angry with her.
Tator tearfully says, "you not happy with me, Mama?" He is sent to his bed once home and he has the grace to stay put for a half hour. When he calls to me we talk about why he had been sent to bed and says he's sorry for running away. He is hugged and kissed and sent downstairs to join his sister watching PBS.
I remain on his bed, still trying to disperse the darkness pooled in my chest.
Yesterday I wrote about my bad day. What I didn't tell you was how the day began (which might explain a lot).
From the dining room Tator is crying, "I don't like you, Mama. I doooon't liiiiike yooooou, Maaaaamaaaaa."
Over. and. over.
Why? What have I done to deserve this scorn?
I allowed the supply of apple juice to run dry and provided my child with orange juice instead.
Last week on NPR's On Point, an interview with the recently passed author Frank McCourt (Angela's Ashes) was re-broadcast. One caller was a former student of Mr. McCourt's who commented on the fact that he appeared to be unhappy while teaching. Given his jokes and jovial attitude on the show this did seem surprising. After stumbling over his answer a little, he admitted he was very frustrated during his years of teaching at a New York high school. His hours in the classroom left him very little time or energy to write.
It's 7:12PM. I have walked the kids back to their beds three times in the last 20 minutes, and DAMNIT, here they come again. My glass of red wine is half gone. It has not been a good day in the life of this stay-at-home mother of two.
I am tired. So very, very tired. Not due to lack of sleep - my two monkeys decided to share a bed last night and it worked, thank the lord of all creatures small and sleeping. No, I am bone tired. Crying tired. Want to book a motel closet and not emerge for a whole week tired.
Sunday found Hubby and I, out of desperation and concern for Little Lady (Tator likes to turn the light on as he leaves their room for ours at 2AM), moving out of our beautiful, chaos-free-zone bedroom into the 5AM-sun-blasted office. We took apart our bed and the kids' exorbitantly heavy bunk beds and heaved all the pieces into their respective new locales. At the height of the move when neither room resembled its former or soon-to-be orderly status and the hallway looked like a flea-market, I picked up one end of my small writing desk, took a step backwards, and... oooooweeee! My hip gave way. I spent the remainder of the day on my knees pushing baskets of dress-up clothes and stuffed animals or carrying one book at a time slowly from room to room. For me, who moves furniture and rearranges the house at least once a month, this abrupt halt of activity was incredibly frustrating.
My mother, bless her cotton socks, came to help that afternoon and even took a child away for the night (the one who couldn't quite cope with all the change and took out his unease on his sister's head, multiple times).
Four days later I am walking upright again and I am still organizing the mess created by the move. Or trying to.
1. Move pile of papers from floor, to table, to shelf.
2. Pick up discarded diaper, round up boy who is now running around covered in, well, you know.
3. Transfer one stack (of the 25 stacks) of novels, books on writing, psychology, and who knows what else, from upstairs office to downstairs.
4. Break apart the screaming, thrashing muddle of limbs on the living room carpet that is my children.
5. Go through two months worth of mail, praying no unpaid bill will surface.
6. Make sandwiches, skin apple, make more sandwich, find suitable dessert for staaaarving children.
And in the middle of all this I think, what am I doing? I'm not up to this. I wasn't meant to be a mother. I just want to be writing.
It is so hard trying to squeeze your own needs in between the responsibilities of life. There are days when I am far from happy. I am happiest when alone and I am rarely that. I understand Mr. McCourt's frustration. He was a writer who had to put himself on hold in order to teach and make a living. I am writer who has to put myself on hold for my children and my home (and my hip). Some days I am at peace with this and manage my day-to-day life with ease. Other days I run on suppressed anxiety. And then there are days like today.
I write this as therapy. I write this to fulfill a need I have yearned for all day. I write this while barely able to keep my eyes open or my heart from hurting.
I'll be OK tomorrow.
Tomorrow is my dear blog's first birthday. A year ago I had finally took the bait and began this new adventure. And I have loved every minute of it!
I believe I have grown as a writer - not necessarily technically (i.e. what an magazine editor likes to see: Hook, Middle, Climax, End) but in terms of thinking like a writer. My day's events, conversations or thoughts and feelings are all material. Some become sentences in my head, others get jotted down, still others are written in a post before I've barely had a chance to sip my coffee. I have even dared to call myself a Writer... in public! I have a business card that says: Writer, Artist, Journaling Instructor. A year ago that would not have been possible, my ego was not up to it yet.
In honor of my bloggy's birthday I am going to re-post the one that began it all.
In the beginning there was the word... "blog"
A few months ago I was chatting with a fellow mom who asked me what I do (she obviously meant other than carting my children around to preschool and dance class and swimming lessons as well as keeping them supplied with nutritious fodder and clean-ish clothes.)
"I'm an aspiring writer," I replied sheepishly.
"Oh, do you blog?"
"Nooo, I don't blog!" said I. (I didn't say that, but I did think it. Being the traditionalist that I am, writing online just doesn't seem real, any more than reading a book on a kindle - or whatever it's called - or listening to music through teeny weeny headphones seems real.)
What I actually said was, "No, I'm more of a paper and pen kinda gal, ya know. I'm not really into the computer that much."
"Oh, you should. I just got asked to write an article for someone because they read my blog."
And my world tipped just a bit.
Fast forward to this week. I have finished my first non-fiction article and I am almost ready to send it off with a query letter. To garner some support in my new endeavor I started chatting with some other writer-moms online. To my utter amazement I discovered they all write online either for publication sites and/or their own blogs. AND THEY GET PAID FOR IT.
World tips completely over and I'm falling head first into cyberspace.
I have been calling myself an aspiring writer for many years now but I was intimidated by the world of dash-your-dreams editors and query letters. But now (dammit) I have no excuse. Just write a little article, get it accepted at one of about a trillion publication sites, and wait for someone to send you a check for, oh, about $2. Who cares, you're published!
And this blog? I'm still loyal to time spent curled up in a chair with journal and fountain pen writing words for no eyes but mine. But if this blog really can help my writing career by forcing me to write everyday - to hone my craft - and maybe, just maybe, catch some editor's eye, then ok, I guess I'll give it a try.
But I do still plan to write for those real publications one day.
OK, so I still haven't made $2 - or even .10c - for my writing. But I have been published and I have received that all important personal note from an editor. I have been asked to write an essay for a possible book compilation and another essay on my son's natural birth is still awaiting an editor's approval for another compilation. I do not feel for one moment that I am not making it as a writer. I have had to put other things first this year (like my "real" job and my journaling workshops). If there's one snippet of wisdom I hang onto more than other other it is:
and that's what I am doing almost everyday.
Thanks blog! Happy Birthday!
I have a friend (M) who makes me laugh.
She also makes me feel the biggest goober alive.
She picks on my choice of radio station (National Public Radio all day long), she can throw down three glasses of wine to my one and still hold a serious conversation (wait a minute, she's never holding a serious conversation), and she successfully sports heels that rival those of the exotic dancers I used to live with (another story for another time) while I slump around in my very flat flats.
Last Friday she wrote this post describing the morphing of her Friday nights throughout her life. It made me laugh (as usual) but not just because of her sense of humor, but because it made me realize how extremely different we are. If we hadn't worked together for almost a year we would never have met; we run in different circles. She is eight years younger, 4 sizes slimmer, and 87% funner than me.
Here is a run down of our Friday nights over the years:
When she was eight she and a bunch of other little girls were having slumber parties and watching scary movies. When I was eight once in a long while one friend would sleep over. We didn't even have a TV in the early 80s, let alone a device that allowed for watching movies, and as I wasn't even permitted to watch Star Wars as a child, our entertainment was more likely a re-reading of Anne of Green Gables.
At 16, while my dear friend was secretly getting drunk in some sand pit I was driving to Friendly's with my three best friends and getting "drunk" on silly jokes and piles of Mocha Chip Ice Cream. This was only after I had satisfied the family requirement of the after-dinner Bible readings (I'm not kidding).
21 found M drinking legally and figuring out her love life. I was home in the office off my bedroom researching and writing about the French Revolution, Renaissance costumes, Rousseau, and African agricultural progression. I had yet to get drunk, or even close to it, smoke a cigarette, or have sex. I was, however, also figuring out my love life.
M is now 28, mother to a little boy, a homeowner, and almost wife. She has already lived a very full, exciting life and is consequentially full of life. I'm certain the Hannah Montana party she attended this past Friday night was made even more entertaining due to her presence.
By the time I was 28, the brief episode of going out on a Friday night, drinking (but never to oblivion, just to singing very loudly) and surrounded by "friends" was already over. I was home alone watching TV while my fiance worked the 2nd shift. How pathetic!
I am now two months away from 37. Most Friday nights involve attempting to get the kids to bed before I dissolve into a pile of fried nerves and frazzled patience. If I'm lucky, Friday night sometimes includes a walk downtown to the summer street festival to argue over whether the Dora popsicle or hot dog is the best choice for an evening snack. Sometimes Friday night means a "walk" after work with M - we walk all the way to the back deck to share a much-needed bottle of wine while the kids splash in the pool. Once in a while it means an evening with another couple with whom we share conversation and good food. Other times it is a very rare night out alone to the theatre or a restaurant with Hubby. And other times it is a trip my parent's oasis in the country to join with family to talk, eat, play with the chickens and frogs, and just be.
While I don't regret not ever drinking in a sand pit and running from the cops, I do wish I had had more confidence in my former years to get out and have fun. I would like to be more playful, especially with my children. But thanks to M, I am getting to enjoy life in a less serious way once in a while. My life pales in comparison with her "crazy" life but we balance each other out. While I have got her blogging and considering her true dreams, she has taught me to tolerate more than one glass of wine in one sitting. And most importantly she has given me the best gift - laughter!
Ser-en-dip-it-y. Say it slowly and it sounds a little dippy, kind of funny.
Serendipity. Say it at normal speed and it has a peacefulness, a flow.
I love how serendipity has operated in my life. If you do a search on this blog you can read some examples of how. Today I can add to them.
1. At my last journaling workshop only one person had signed up by the morning of. I did not want to cancel because I had various people tell me they may show up. A day earlier when I dropped the dismantled Sunday paper on the table I noticed an ad for a "babysitting grandmother." Although I had not been planning to find a back-up for my mother, I called the number. I told the nice-sounding lady who answered that I was looking for a sitter for the times I was teaching my journal workshops. She immediately began asking me questions and ended up attending that very evening.
As I arrived at the wellness center where I teach I ran into a former co-worker on her way to yoga class. She was grieving the loss of her beloved cat whom she had just had to put to sleep. Being a writer herself, and "coincidentally" having her journal in the trunk of her car, she decided to take my workshop instead.
Turned out the "babysitting grandmother" had also experienced a very recent loss, and together my two very last minute students comforted each other over their legal pads.
2. Today when I took Little Lady to gymnastics I ran into the wife of another former co-worker whom I hadn't seen in over 18 months. We chatted about her fledgling career as a masseuse and mine as a journal-writing instructor. She thought my workshops would be perfect for the residents of the therapeutic community where she and her husband live and work. She took my card and said she would talk to the directors.
An hour later when I returned to pick up Little Lady, my re-acquaintance told me she was so excited by the whole "networking" thing. Apparently after we both left our children to tumble and vault she had run into a yoga-teacher friend at the grocery store. It made her wish there was a way for other local "cool people" like us to connect and promote each other. This got me thinking...
This week for the first in over seven years I dug out my sewing basket and my sewing machine and actually made something. It wasn't a big project but for me it was a reminder of my former life. I used to sew quite a bit, including a brown Little House on the Prairie-type dress and a hideous all-in-one pant/dress thing in the early 90s... ugh.
For the last seven years I have either been:
- pregnant (i.e. nesting) and working
- a new mom and working
- a new mom and setting up a new home and life in another world (i.e. the deep south)
- a stay-at-home mom and a wannabe writer, journaling instructor (i.e. taking courses, writing, and designing my own workshops)
- a working mother - of two - and setting up a new home and life in another world (i.e. the blue-collar town we went to only if we had to while growing up)
- a working mom and an aspiring freelancer and self-employer...
And then there's today. I'm a stay-at-home mom and a gosh-durnit-making-it-on-my-owner (with enormous thanks to my husband's paycheck, of course). Today I have a few journal workshops under my belt and many more scheduled for the fall. I have two (precious) days a week when Tator is in daycare, and once all those calendar listings, facebook notices, and posters were out there announcing my intentions to the world I actually found myself with nothing to do.
OK, not even nearly nothing - I am still a housewife and mother - but nothing pressing, nothing that couldn't wait. No office to report to, no press release to write, no theater program to layout. I could do something completely and utterly... FUN (i.e. without purpose).
So I made a pretty fabric cover for my beloved planner/journal. It's very rough with stray threads here and there, but I'm happy with it. You see, I have been on this quest for a long time - to find the perfect combination of planner and journal that is neither too bulky or too small. It must be full of pockets, refillable, and tell me where, what, and when I must go and must do. And if I find myself sitting in a car or a coffee shop it must have plenty of room in which to write. Such a thing does not exist, and believe me, I have searched!
Now, hallelujah! With the help of DIYplanner.com (where to my joy and relief I discovered others as addicted to time management as me), a Rollabind punch (via eBay), and my rusty sewing skills I have found my solution.
But I digress.
The point is, I am finally where I have wanted to be in life. I am home. I am looking after my children. I am fulfilling my dreams of being a freelance "something." I now have the energy to do the other creative things I love to do.
That is... until Little Lady comes back from camp. She's been staying with my parents for the last two weeks and although I miss her for her, I have not missed for one iddy-biddy moment the constant bickering and fighting that happens between my offspring. In one hour I will be picking her up and from then until she goes back to school my creative yearnings may have to put back on hold.
But that part of me has been revived from its slumber. My sewing machine has been unearthed and sits on the table ready for action. I have an idea for a simple summer shirt I'd like to make. It's in my head and for me that's usually all it takes. It may be winter by the time I get around to it but that's OK.
Maybe I could also get it into my head to finish the baby albums too... before they graduate from college.
While sitting in a family restaurant trying to convince Tator Tot that sliding under the table and onto the sticky, grimy wasteland he is calling "my house" is not the best way to endear yourself to your mother and may actually jeopardize the dessert course, I overheard this:
You've put on weight too, not 50 lbs, but some...
The stooped old lady in the next booth responsible for these words to her waitress was fork deep in a gigantuan blob of coconut cream pie with a side of orange ice cream (orange? really?).
When the waitress returned looking a little sheepish, certain I could not have heard the original comment correctly, I surreptitiously turned my ear in their direction hoping to snatch more delicious morsels that would either confirm or contradict what I had heard.
I'm starting a diet tomorrow, our chastised waitress says.
But why, honey?, asks little old lady through a mouthful of spray whipped cream.
You said I'd gained weight.
Oh, no!... Just mostly in your face...
When fed, watered, and well-rested my children are well-behaved. And compared to some children, even when not all of the above, they don't do too badly.
This morning I took them both to a children's musical event where a local public radio personality (emphasis on "personality") was showcasing many different instruments, from a clarinet to a hurdy-gurdy, which drones like a bagpipe and, with George Sand's likeness carved in its neck, looks like more like a ship than a instrument. Little Lady sat there like, well, a little lady, taking it all in. Tator Tot also stayed in his chair, clapping to the beat, until...
About 20 minutes into the presentation, the door opened and in bounced a small boy of about four, maybe five. He ran straight up to the front, inches from the musicians and began clapping, jumping, talking, even burping. Tator, who, although much younger than this newcomer, was of equal height and saw him as a playmate. Up gets Tator and the two of them begin jumping around. Being the conscientious parent that I am I urged Tator to sit on the floor and stay quiet so he could listen to the music.
Before you judge me as an over-bearing, fun-squelching mother, let me explain that, although this was a "children's program," it wasn't structured for the youngest audience; at one point the co-presenter even asked both boys to sit and "make your body still." Tator did comply, that is until the other boy resumed his overly-excited behavior. Again I had to remind him to sit and look at the instruments. I was hoping the other mother would also manage her child, or at least ask him to stop burping so loudly, for gawd's sake! I thought she must see my discomfort and the influence her child was having on mine. But she didn't move a muscle or even hiss a shhh.
When I had to tell Tator to sit still again my smart little guy pointed out that "his friend" was jumping. Errrr, well... I whispered that we don't run around in public places and, oh look, that instrument looks like a boat! Trying to corral a two-year old is hard enough, I don't need some other child (an older child, no less) leading him astray.
What is wrong with some parents? Are these the same parents who allow their children as much free reign in a restaurant as in a playground? The ones who never teach the appropriate times for silence or stillness? Please, thank you, excuse me? Where is the personal responsibility, the respect for others?
I hold very high standards for my children when it comes to respect and manners; Little Lady did me proud today, and truth be told, Tator did too. He didn't throw a fit when I asked him to sit or even when I pulled him onto my lap. He listened, he clapped (and jumped) in time to the music, and never raised his voice (other than to ask "time to go?" after every song for the last 15 minutes). I just wish all children were as good as mine...
And this is where I laugh heartily and fall off my high horse. (label:kids)
On his Facebook status a friend of mine (actually he was my boyfriend for about 10 minutes in 8th grade - isn't Facebook great?), wrote:
All this communication might make my head explode.
Chris, I wholeheartedly concur!
After writing yesterday's post I felt almost wretched. That's a strong term but I do believe a fitting one. I wanted to know, to learn, to understand, EVERYTHING. I was on data overload - it was swarming and taking me down. It was as if ants were crawling over my naked body: jumpy, itchy, uncomfortable, and needing dive head-first into an extremely cold lake.
When I first began to blog I felt similarly and eventually just had to let all the social networking research cease. It was entirely too overwhelming. Instead I decided to write my daily posts and wait for people to find me. And when I found other blogs that interested me reading them regularly was (still is) a commitment I wasn't able to make.
My 105 Facebook friends demand very little of me - that's just a fun distraction. But when I started promoting my business on FB I once again felt the pull of the information highway - the pressure to take every exit so you don't miss a thing.
And then along comes that annoying little bird whom I had managed so long to evade. Twitter. Twitter-dumb and Twitter-dumber. That was the final straw for me.
As I mentioned yesterday, I am getting infuriated at the amount of time I am "supposed" to spend networking online in order to sell myself and my writing. Well, news flash! There ain't gonna be any writing if I keep this up. I have two days a week without my children around, two days only to do all the myriad things I have to do to be the person I have dreamed of being. I did not dream of being a red-eyed computer junkie!
One thing I did learn on my voyage around cyberspace yesterday at a post by Rachelle Gardner, is that I need to keep my blog consistent in order to keep people coming back (and little snippets of useful information like this is why I can't completely quit networking all together). And while the subtitle of this blog does say the word "random," I'm not sure I can use that as an excuse to write crappy posts about crappy subjects just because my brain is fried from all the cyber-research I have been flailing around in.
Another thing Rachelle said was to remember that your latest post is always what a new visitor is going to read first and judge you on. This really made me think... am I writing well enough? What if an editor happened to read this? (This reminds me of WWJD (What Would Jesus Do); or the common question in our British-heritage family: Would you do that if you were at the Queen's for dinner? Always be the best you can be.)
Writing is why I began this blog journey. Writing for the sake of writing. I have so few readers, (and I want to keep you coming back, along with your friends - and please let me know you're here, it really helps!), but primarily I do this for me. I love to write - I need to write. I do not need to tweet or be tweeted at. My priority must be to continue on my journey as a Writer while hopefully inspiring you along the way. If, once in a while I happen upon a tool or tidbit that helps me on that journey, then so be it.
But for now, that little bird needs to stop chirping in my ear so I can get back to work.
(What's the first thing I did after I hit "publish"? Tweeted this post... !)
Today I am taking the day off.
(If I could place one of those little emoticons here, the one that is rolling around, smacking the floor, overcome by laughter, I would. I think the term is LMAO.)
Correction: Today I am NOT going to send out any press releases, email anyone promoting my journal workshops, or post any posters on general store bulletin boards, so congested with posters for yoga classes and lost kitties, that mine - even purple as it is - just melts into the chromatic puddle of papers.
Today I am NOT going to start following any more authors or editors on Twitter or try to click on all their links or subscribe to their blogs in an attempt to become as well-informed a writer as possible. (In the two days since I joined Twitter I have managed to completely overwhelm myself with all the @hti.ly RT@hi.nj and http://tinyurl.WTF. I even downloaded TweetDeck which scares the hell out of me every time it blurps another "powerful tool for writers" from the corner of my screen. How exactly does spending all my time networking or learning from the pros help me as a writer when I don't have a second left in the day to actually write??? So, so bewildered.)
Today I am NOT going to feel guilty about the 95 posts sitting in my Google Reader or the others that somehow landed in My Yahoo that I haven't had a chance to read.
Today I am NOT going to check sitemeter, facebook, IM, or email. (However I will turn on my cell phone, you know, that strange antiquated thing that does nothing other than let me talk to real people in real time... how novel.)
Today I AM going to clear up the clutter in my house - the DVDs on the floor, the clothes on the dining room table (clothes on the table... really?).
Today I AM going to (maybe) put back in the shed the bikes, bears, buckets, and bubble-makers and mow the lawn that I think is still under all that mess.
Today I AM going to put Tator in the stroller and walk downtown in the sun (the sun!) - and probably get some groceries, because I can't be a complete slacker.
Today I AM going to take the day off.
... as I gaze out over the suburban yardscape, teacup in hand, half-awake, choosing whether the newspaper or my journal will get my first half hour of waking attention.When I read a sentence like this I mentally throw in the towel and want to cry out of frustration. I envy the life that allows for early morning gazing and the freedom to choose my next activity rather than have it decided for me by whiny, hungry children and work schedules. I remember the days when I sat every morning with my journal in the silence of my rented room or amongst the morning bustle of a downtown coffee shop. Those days gone and I miss them so much I almost feel angry at my innocent children for stealing them from me.
Christina Baldwin, Life's Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest
That's a feeling I try not to give voice or credence to. A mother should never regret her choice to have children, and definitely not over a little morning writing time. But it's the principal of it; it's not just my journal that I'm no longer allowed time with - it's me. My life as I knew it has been sucked into a vortex of laundry for four, preparing meals, and toy-resettlement... I spin wildly, the pieces of my life battering me from every side. When I finally step out of it for even a moment, I'm too dizzy to even know who or where I am (let alone where my journal may be).
I couldn't think of what to write tonight so I dug up this draft thinking it was a good one based on my hectic day. But I'm realizing I can't write these things in true honesty - not today. Maybe tomorrow I will feel the chaos taking over again, but tonight I am calm. I am calm because I got to have a day with me and I actually had the opportunity to, "choos[e] whether the newspaper or my journal [got] my first half hour..."
It did not begin well, however. The kids, who for the last week have been waking up after 9AM (a miracle? No, just too many late nights), decided 5:30 was a good time to jump (literally) into bed with Hubby and me. Although we needed to be out of the house at 7:30AM for the first day of camp, 5:30 was a just little too much lead time. Summer morning sun was blazing through the slightly askew curtains for the first time in days and it apparently shone giggle-juice on my children. As heart-warming as kiddy giggles are, being forced awake by it an hour earlier than desired was more than this mommy could take. So when the cozy covers were ripped off for a game of duvet spelunking, I have to admit I lost it. Ahem.
Two hours later, all was forgiven (I hope) and Little Lady was putting on her name tag ready for a day at camp. I then left for home, minus a son as well as a daughter (thanks, Mum!) and settled at the picnic table with my laptop for a day of work.
I sent out press releases, emailed potential host bookstores, coffee shops and a senior center, I hung out two baskets of laundry, filled out an application form, called various insurance companies (which resulted in some good old fashioned cussin'), and of course, wasted some time on Facebook. A full day. A full productive day.
I needed today. I drank up the silence and absorbed the stillness. I was able to concentrate and focus. I wasn't a mother today, I was Me, and I loved it!
I do long for the days when I will be able to decide my own schedule while gazing out over the rim of my (hot) coffee cup. But for now I will take these rare moments - oases in the desert of motherhood - and try to stockpile the peace for the days when I get caught in the maelstrom of kitty haircuts, lost shoes, exploding diapers, black-marker-eye-shadowed daughters and flower-bed-thrashing sons.
Could someone please enlighten me on why I need to Twitter (or is it Tweet?)?
I just joined tonight because I have been hearing all over the place that it is THE next big thing. And because I don't seem to be having much luck gaining readers for this blog I thought I'd give it a try.
Trouble is, I am already addicted to Facebook. No, not taking stupid quizzes that tell me whether I am 94% compatible with my partner or sending people hatching eggs (what is that all about?); no, even sadder, I am addicted to informing my 104 friends (I can honestly call about 90 of them real-life friends..., oh OK, or acquaintances) that I hung out my laundry and feeling proud of myself for doing so or that motherhood is a test of the gag reflex. Then I check a dozen times a day to see who cares. Lord, that's lame! I do also use Facebook to promote my journaling workshops but as of yet that has produced little business.
Do I really need another reason to stop by my laptop on the way to the kitchen and, again before I put in another load of laundry, and again before I hang it on the line? Do I need something else to keep me from getting to my bed before my eyes are red and blurry? Is it necessary to tell the world my every thought and action?
WANTED: Another distraction to take time and attention away from my children and writing.
NO! Make it stop!
But what if I'm missing out on a great way to promote myself, my writing, my workshops?
I really don't get it. How exactly will Twitter help my career? Help this social-networking rookie understand. Please!
They say, Location. Location. Location. I say, Community. Community. Community.
We live in a small town; it's called a city but anyone in any state other than Vermont would laugh at that. 17,000 people gathered in one place is just a mall in some places, but here we call it our second largest city. We haven't lived here long and when people ask how we like it, both Hubby and I respond, "getting used to it." And we are. I don't groan quite so audibly when driving along the main strip and I have been known to have moments when walking downtown when I feel a slight spring in my step.
The town has its gems, like the beautiful new bookstore with the grand staircase that leads to a balcony scattered with cozy chairs, and the holistic wellness center where you can de-tox in a salt cave or shimmy in a belly dance. There's the Saturday morning farmer's market where you can buy the freshest potato, still muddy from the ground, while munching on an apple turnover smothered in maple frosting, lovingly made just that morning in a neighbor's kitchen. Just on the edge of town you can cast a line in the river or hike through the woods to Rocky Pond on one of the best bike trail systems in New England (I just learned that fact yesterday).
Yes, it's growing on me. And summer time helps, but all this is almost meaningless if you are not part of something bigger, more important: Community.
Tonight, we went to a jam - a musical free-for-all where banjos, drums, guitars, ukuleles, an organ, a double bass, and some kind of pipe with a keyboard down the front (?) all blended into a lively, joyous cacophony. There was singing and clapping, and children and cats running between legs and music stands. We didn't know a soul other than the hosts, nor any of the music, but it didn't matter. We joined in - even Hubby who tried out his two chords on a borrowed guitar while I sang. We felt welcomed and a part of something.
We didn't really want to go out tonight. It was raining (again), the kids, shivering and blue, had just gotten back from swimming lessons (yes, in the rain), and it was past their bedtime. But we knew we needed to do this. I had been invited by a former college acquaintance with whom I had recently reconnected on a school field trip. Discovering our children had decided (well, my daughter had decided) that they are in love, we thought it would be a good idea to get to know the future in-laws. He is a music professor, she is a singer and they have lots of musical friends. Intelligent friends. Interesting friends. People we can connect to.
And that's what makes all the difference. The difference between loving and tolerating where you live; living where you live, rather than just surviving. We moved to this town 1.5 years ago and we are just now starting a catch a glimpse at what is ahead. Just when you think you will never make friends, never feel at home, it happens. The connections click, the bonds build, and soon you have Community. And then you can call it Home.