Of monsters and drowning. Mixed metaphors on moms and the pursuit of passions.

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In 1922, in a letter to his friend Max Brod, Franz Kafka wrote “A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.” It’s not a new quote for me. I’ve had it on a post it for years. I believe it to be true. Still, I hesitate to let the thoughts flesh themselves out on the page. I try to recommit to writing and yet here I am once again. I’ve held back.

Why do I hold back? I’m not entirely sure. I love to write. I’ve always loved writing. Once I begin it’s the crack in the dam scenario and the words surge forth.

Perhaps fear of the flood that follows is what makes it so hard to begin. The rush of creativity and coupled with the vulnerability brought on by the exposure will surely overtake me. I fear it will send me spinning among the rocks beneath the churning surface; smashing and bruising me until I’m nothing more than sodden corpse to be washed up later on a dusky beach somewhere, to traumatize a pair of young lovers who’s only goal was to share a kiss in the glow of the sunset. Yeah. Something like that.

I’m working it out. I have no desire to enrage a beast to the point of insanity. A writer must write. I KNOW this. And yet…

It seems logical that the concept behind Kafka’s words applies to the stifling in general of one’s passions, dreams, and gifts. So? How about you? What’s nagging at you? Do you have a little something special that you’re keeping on a high shelf? We mamas do that. We tell ourselves we don’t have time. We may revisit the idea once in a while; take it down, ponder it, and dream a bit, only to say “someday, when the kids have grown.” More often though, I believe we fear where the pursuit might take us and what it will require of us downstream. A rushing torrent may overwhelm us, or a meandering flow might float us along. It doesn’t matter. We barely have the energy to keep our head above still waters, because we are unquestionably exhausted! Far too often though, we grab the nearest stationary object and hold tight seeking “rest” in ways that don’t revive us. Yes. Sometimes we feel the need to grab hold of a week of naps, or binge watch a show while eating chocolate and drinking wine, but allowing those shallow gasps of air to take the place of deep, oxygen rich breaths that prepare us to dive to depths we’ve never experienced, is a surefire way to be drowned in overwhelm and regret.

What are you doing to grow your capacity to go to greater depths? Is there too much going on in your mind to sort through? Do you need ideas or strategies? Do you need resources to help you deal with your fears or overwhelm? Or are you in need of a retreat to even begin to dream? It’s my hope that this post and those to come will inspire and encourage you to figure out what you need, to help you do your thing.

Being moms and pursuing our passions is daunting, but it’s doable. We may not believe it right now but we’ve navigated much tougher things as moms than we’ll ever confront while pursuing our passions. We can do it.

While we’re at it, let’s not allow each other to drown. Let’s be life rafts.

Our best friend, our neighbor, the woman checking our groceries, or the one serving us on a rare night out might need a handhold today, she may need the emotional equivalent of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation! Be that. When we have opportunity to do so, let us encourage not just the dreaming, but the doing as well. Let’s get creative and help each other in any way we can. Swap child care hours, loan a computer, or barter services to fill in each other’s gaps. We always have opportunity to be a heroine in another woman’s story.

We must be kind to one another. We must stop ourselves in our tracks when the urge to judge another woman’s passion or success creeps in. We have endured enough as a whole. Let’s have grace for one another individually. Let’s lift each other up to pursue our passions, explore the depths, do the things, and keep the monsters at bay.

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Sleepless Thoughts

Lost time

The weight of sorrow bears down on me, tearing the covers from my soul.

Dear God! It’s 4 am. I just want to sleep! I try deep breathing for the umpteenth time, this time my mind stills just enough to settle on a single thought.

Everything I’d dreamed I’d give my children has been left unfulfilled. The time is gone and I have failed.

Fuck.

The tears come, drenching my pillow until it’s so wet I can’t stand the cold dampness against my face, and I shove it to the floor. Qeue neck ache for tomorrow.

My children will never know what might have been if they had been raised with security instead of scarcity; what it’s like to grow up without losing everything…more than once.

It tears me apart inside and the sobs come uncontrollably. 

This was not my plan. I didn’t have one of those. I didn’t know I needed one. I wish I’d known.

If you read this, and know me, you’ll want to point out the good parts, the overcoming stories. Please don’t. I’m well aware of how strong I am and how “resilient” children are. I’m painfully aware of the many different ways anxiety and depression can manifest in children, preteens, teens, and young adults. I’m  exhausted by the struggle to find competent, affordable people to help them heal. I don’t need to be told that they’ll be okay, stronger, and better for having endured so much. I know them better than I know my own reflection in a mirror. What they’ve gained because of the struggle isn’t the point, but what’s been lost.

I don’t need to be reminded to stay positive and pray for peace.

What I need is to sit with this for a while. I need to be allowed to own my failings and feel my feelings.  I need to mourn the hopes and dreams I had for their upbringing, and apparently I need to write about it in order to do so.

Weep

People speak of how difficult babies and toddlers are, to parent. As a mother of six stair step kids, I seemed to inspire mostly shock and awe when they were little. I never got that. It wasn’t rocket science. Challenging? Absolutely, but not the hardest part. Perhaps it’s the passing of years, that makes it seem so simple, but I find myself longing for diaper changes and milk stained shirts. I yearn to pry the Barbie head from the crawling boy-zilla’s jaws. How easy reparations were, when her biggest fear was quelled with the flip of a light switch.

Now they are grown to a preteen, two teens, and three young adults, each bearing wounds from the blows struck by an unjustly harsh life. Even in a family that clings so well to hope, faith, and love, the constant hits have brought varying degrees of scarring. There is sorrow. There is anger. There is bitterness. And yet, there is a barely flickering spark begging for oxygen. I see it, and I weep. 

I pray, and I weep.

It would seem that no matter how I try, I will always be wondering what I could have done differently; if I could have been less rigid, more wise, better prepared. How could I have known that all but a handful of the well meaning critics, and spiritual mentors were snuffing a bright flame? Why didn’t I believe I was enough? If only there had been fewer speakers allowed on the stage…

I am human though, deeming the wondering futile. I can’t change the past nor predict the future. I can only believe that I have done the best, as I am, with what I had at hand, in the moment, as it unfolded. I can only trust that God has seen, knows, and heals those for whom I weep.

Newness

Everything is different. Different in the sense that, not only are stakes higher, but that the measure of height appears to be limitless. I’m beginning to forget what life was like pre-you. 

It’s not that I feel less independent or capable, but I’m increasingly aware that my capabilities don’t have a valid weight on these scales. The yearning for balance remains, yet it’s a challenge to hold together the beliefs that comprise my stance. The need to be right just swirls away like a maple seed helicopter, frantically spinning, desperate to find solid ground.

 I’m learning to listen more than I ever have, and to allow the safety of love to dissolve the residue of unsurety that clouds the waters of my soul. 

As Far As The Eye Can See

Out of nowhere the memory rolls in. Like a distant thunder rumbling it’s warning of rain, a single memory comes rolling ahead of others, and fills my eyes with tears. 

You are a few hours old. I jolt awake and you’re staring silently; your grey blue eyes unblinking. You’re chubby with barely a hint of blonde fuzz on your head, such a contrast to the one before with her dark waves and obvious intent to conquer her little world.  We watch each other silently. I’m not sure what you are. You seem uncomfortably wise. I close my eyes to dislodge the thought. Sleep comes. 

When I awake your big blue green eyes are glowing joyfully with each button pressing round of your “twinkle star suckie”, a music playing pacifier and favorite among your extensive collection. You dance around bobbing your cotton candy fluffed head to the tune. I scan the room, surveying the chaos of three under five. 

When I look up from the mess, your eyes, (green, or grey, or yellow, I’m not sure in this moment) peer through your wild main of golden waves, full of frustration and fear. You have come at me like a wounded lioness. I have failed you, which is something  you don’t know how to express anymore than I know how to receive. I glance away in hot fear. 

Through blurred vision, I see you sitting at the foot of my bed, your wild main tamed by a sensible knot, one hand resting atop the blankets that cover my feet. You are once again silent and absorbing, but now armed with faith. I am straining to see from the chasm. I drift off into a chemical sleep. Sorrow passes. 

You wear a crown of flowers. In your eyes, there are flowers too. The music swirls around us like the breezes in this dusty heat. You stretch out on the blanket and shoot me a smile. We close our eyes and soak in the sounds. 

When I look up you’re gazing at him, weaving a stray tendril in and out of your fingers. It takes you a moment to remember I’m in the room, and when you do, your eyes are asking if I can see it; if I’m okay. I know my eyes are smiling, because you are happy. Yes I see it. I don’t know if I’m okay. I’m not sure if I have seen you with enough clarity. I’m not certain that  you have seen the depth of my love. I wonder if what was seen was enough. 

sadness

FullSizeRenderShe lay curled up on her bed in the fetal position after her bath, her wet hair twirled in a towel atop her sweet little eleven year old head. She’d been her usual bubbly self over dinner. She couldn’t tell me why she was sad. She just said “I don’t even know” as the stream of tears followed the curve of her nose, rushing to the billowing sea of pillow. I wanted to fix it. I wanted to make things right in her world. But sometimes that’s not possible because we are fragile and everything doesn’t make sense. Sometimes the sorrow has an origin we’re not yet ready to explore the depths of. Sometimes fixing is not what one needs. Sometimes a sad heart just needs to hear “Me too.” Sometimes you just need holding through the ache. So I brought her to my room and I snuggled her up in my big comforter, kissed her face and said “Me to baby. Me too” and we cried together.