Won’t spent my time / Waiting to die / Enjoy the life I’m living

When things in my life start to unravel from the relative ease I know, I typically feel shame, fear, anxiety, and low-grade depression. The hardest feeling to disentangle Myself from is the shame, the feeling I am At Fault for scenarios that are embarrassing and public (whether I admit them or not) and proof of my failures and – this is the worst part – Could Have Been Avoided were I smarter, more efficient, had I worked a little harder. The car problems, the cats who have colds (Seriously. How can I blame myself for this? But I do.), the refrigerator cluttered, the table not set artfully for company, the sewing work that remains undone, the emails and messages from readers (and a few others) I have fallen behind on (perhaps not to recover), my unimaginative presence and my lack of beauty and worth, a wretch really. There is almost no point to talk about Failure as it is a fact I have failed on many accounts; and to do so, to be honest about my failure, risks the experience of those who’d rush in with Rescue or Advice. Even more scary at times is the knowledge of those who will step in with bona-fide Help. It is one thing to have someone do something nice for you when things are going well (“Thank you!”); it can feel miserable to have prostrated myself, even though done without goals of personal gain, to have someone hand you up and you know there is no repayment, it was merely a gift, simple and devastating. When I consider this I often just wish I could talk and have no one take action except to listen; but I also know I must allow people to follow their hearts and minds.

Releasing Control in my parenting and family life has brought a happier, healthier home and is nurturing children stronger and more joy-filled and humorous then I would have previously imagined. In the times I am weak I see how strong they are and nothing can take away the joy that re-ignites, wells up, inside of me. And after all, I am weak now but it was not always so and won’t always be so. My hard work, although spilled out and squandered and Done Wrong, has nevertheless reaped spiritual benefits both tender and tough. Within me I feel a deep love, an amusing and abiding love, and an interest in other human beings stronger than I’ve felt before. The table may have not looked lovely, but it was loaded with delicious and simple food I made with my hands. I may have been tired but I was still there. The house may only boast the meager (but beautiful) paper decorations of my children, colored with Walmart markers, and the house have little other ornamentation or beauty, but it is the dwelling of myself and those I deeply love.

Today I had the wonderful and simple experience of taking a walk in the sunshine down to the art gallery where my mother was getting off her gallery shift. I like walking in good weather more than ever; the watery light of the sun and deep draughts of our fall air is so familiar and soul-sustaining to me it seems amazing some day I will no longer experience it. At the gallery, the new pieces displayed and the Halloween accoutrement crafted by one of the artists were soothing and inspiring at once. My mother and I took her dog home and then shared lunch at the Italian restaurant – one of those meals so simple and satisfying. We talked and drank tea and enjoyed one another’s company and I felt an expansiveness, having at least done my work of house-stewardship and a breakfast repast for my (very happy-to-receive) children – homemade cinnamon rolls, bananas, and hardboiled eggs from Hoquiam hens. The mug of hot tea in my hand was a modest delight to my exhausted body.

Later I spent forty-five minutes volunteering at the Theatre (as we’ve been doing for a few years now). The conversations were normal and mundane and perfect; older fellows came through the door and flirted and I didn’t feel offended nor afraid.  I took tickets from two of my girlhood friends’ mothers; I was more happy to see them than they probably knew. I have a great caring dwelling inside me and it probably means very little and is worth hardly anything and maybe even it doesn’t show much because I’m afraid of showing it sometimes due to pride and fear. At times like this it is hard to be so public as I am here where I write. I want at times to be my tiny ugly little self and not be noticed by anyone but my family. They are in the final estimation the only beings I feel wholly safe with, as limited as this makes me.

it must be a mixed bag to have me for a mom

It never really ends, trying to be a good Mama, or the perfect Mama, or whatever it is we try to be.  So although this morning I put today’s obligatory novel-writing in first thing, then went for my run, then did my chores and paid some attention to the kids and secured a swim date and supplied a dinner list and arranged a lunch meeting and drove errands with the family…

Still, at 11:15 my daughter has put herself to bed and I realize I didn’t give her legs a massage, like I said I would (she is prone to growing pains).  Instead I sat with housemate Jasmine and spent thirty minutes talking (and smoking half a clove cigarette, a vice I hadn’t engaged in for over a month) because Jasmine was excited about a Christmas present she’d acquired – and I missed my opportunity.  And I came inside and found Sophie out on the couch, wrapped in blankets and sweetly sleeping, and I whispered to her and rubbed her warm thighs and I know I’ll apologize to her first thing tomorrow morning and she’ll forgive me.

But still, I feel rotten.  Not that I didn’t do what she wanted but that I didn’t do what she asked me and I said I’d do.  Because sometimes it seems that being a parent means finding out just how imperfect one really is.  Daily.  Repeatedly.

I swear before I had a family I could self-obfuscate some of that shit.

I think the best minutes in my gee-I-accomplished-a-lot day today were the few moments I did have alone with my daughter, before she went in for an early bedtime.  She’d received a copy of Stuart Little on her roadtrip and we were talking about the book; I hadn’t read it in at least twenty years but there were some parts very memorable. (* Some Stuart Little spoilers ensue *)  And I said, “But Stuart didn’t find his friend, the little bird he was looking for.” I’m lost in throught, remembering the book and how it had made me feel slightly isolated and scared, thinking of venturing off away from family on a lonesome quest.

“Yes he did,” she responded.  “Or he was going to.  The last line says, ‘he felt he was headed in the right direction’.”

And I thought, is my daughter’s optimistic interpretation of the book’s ending due to the fact she is younger and hadn’t experienced the full pain of parting so many of us older had?  Or was that just part of her character – that she’d read the ending of the book as hopeful and open?  Knowing my girl I lean to the latter.

I thought for a moment, then said, “Well, it’s too bad that later she got hit by a truck, and died.”

There was a beat of silence, then Sophie and I both laughed at my sick little joke, she scrunching up her perfectly freckled nose and her eyes crinkling and every tooth coming out of her grin as she put her hands to her mouth.

You know, at least in my world, nothing is really sacred.  Because I’m an ass.