Saturday, February 26, 2011


Le Point de Vue
(Arles, France)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Love manages anger

This week I have evening commitments, so the kids aren't seeing me much. They have a very low tolerance for that, and let me know it. Last night, I got home ten minutes too late to say goodnight - they were both asleep when I kissed their cheeks.

I started thinking about how to fit in more time with them. I realized that I have a webinar Thursday night, and I'm starting my Kung Fu class on Friday evening, so if I wanted time it would have to be my usual yoga/workout time on Thursday evening. Right away, I resented having to give it up. My neck twanged just to reinforce the point that I was not prioritizing self-care. But really, how much self care can I justify. This week, the balance tips the other way because of extra demands and a new "me" activity.

I decided to set the clock a half hour early, even though I was late going to bed, so I could fit yoga into the morning. And of course, I hit the snooze and got up at the usual time. I was so mad at myself, but also really tired and grumpy. As I went down the stairs to start making breakfast, I came upon my husband, taking care of himself and doing his stretches, which he needs to do. And I resented it.

Do you see a theme beginning? I did. But I felt powerless to stop it. Suddenly all the hard things about my life right now started piling themselves up in my mind, building pressure as I rejected them and the feelings they stirred. I just didn't have time! I felt myself growing brittle, detached, resentment seething under my surface. I wanted to stop it. I tried to focus on my breath. The thoughts wouldn't leave me, they poked and jeered.

I should never speak in this state.

I said, "I hope you'll still be on time. I had to give up my workout today and I don't want to be late."

Ouch. To his credit, he just said, "Oh, yes, I"ll be on time."

I went downstairs. I started assembling food, making coffee, resenting and being mad at myself for resenting and half-heartedly trying to stop resenting while starting to weaken against the soothing flow of self-pity. Suddenly, my husband came down the stairs, fast and determined. He removed the container from my hand and wrapped me in a giant hug.

His heart against my heart, his arms supporting my lower back, his sigh and my sigh synchronous. I felt the pressure release, dissipate. The underlying angst that feeds my moods is not gone, but in that moment, he relieved the pressure that would have been an explosion. He noticed it building, and he didn't reject me or judge me for failing to fight it more strongly. He loved me.

Love manages anger. Even mine.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A good mother should be (a Bad Mom installment)

My fingers tingle the need to type.
That energy tugging, tugging my nerves,
demanding of my brain:  give me the words.

Someone there is in me
that refuses and negates
Shall I keep on hating her, keep getting what I get?
How to love that ugly?
(she is afraid)

Yesterday, my daughter (three and a half) was showing me her giraffe, which she had just discovered. She said "It's mine, it's mine forever."

What is it in me that needed to say to her, "Well, it's yours for as long as it lasts."

She looked up at me seriously.

"But I want to keep it for always. For when I'm a grown up."

And still, I persisted.

"It's not likely to last that long, sweetheart," I said, off-handedly.

Her little eyes welled up with tears.

"But I need to keep him! Forever!"

I could not let it go.

"Nothing lasts forever, sweetie. Everything goes back to the earth or sky or water. Everything."

Her eyeballs were getting red, the corners of her mouth turned down. She shook her head.

"No, not everything. Not me."

"Yes, love. You, me, everything, everyone. Nothing lasts forever."

And suddenly I saw it hit her, and I realized that it was too fast, too brutal a revelation. She understood exactly, precisely what I had said to her. She had not known impermanence until this moment, and I had thrust it on her suddenly and cruelly, carelessly. My heart cracked - I felt it crack. I had inflicted a sacred wound on this innocent spirit, as a mother inevitably will in spite of all.

I swept her up in my arms and carried her from the table, to our spot on the stairs where we talk.

"Oh, it's hard! Don't worry. If you take care of your giraffe, you might have him for a long time. I had a teddy bear when I was a baby, and I took care of him and he slept with me until I was 30!"

"But he didn't last?"

"Oh, sweetie, he did last for a very long time."

"I want my giraffe to last forever."

"I know. Me, too. Wouldn't it be great if everything we love could last forever? And all the stuff we don't like, that stuff can go away, right?"

"Right. But do you know? Mountains last forever."

"That's great thinking, but it just seems like that to us. They do wear away, or get changed when the earth moves."

"No. That's not true."

"You don't have to believe it for it to be."

You see, even then, I couldn't let her have it. She came up with MOUNTAINS in her search for forever, and I barely praised her before telling her she was wrong.

I tried to tell her, "We don't need anything to last forever," but she was wriggling away, already finished with this conversation.

Parenting is certainly a strange and interesting process. I'm learning so much. And I'm sure I'm missing half of it.

(Beliefs I hold: A good mother should be kinder than I am. A good mother should be more patient than I am. A good mother should be more selfless than I am. A good mother should be more present than I am. I am a pretty good mother. It's not good enough for them. I am improving.)

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Indomitable (Grand Bend, 2005)
They are coming back, my words,
pushing through the rubble to reach for the sun
in the blue, blue sky

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Living is

Avoiding regret is not living.
Grasping at dangling ladders is not living.
Living is being here with you, now. 
The rest of it scares the hell out of me. 

Can't see the forest

Can't see the forest (my backyard, 2010)

Careful, careful
Don't get ahead of yourself.
(but don't fall behind!)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

No one will find me

Introuvable (Gourdes, France, 2004)
(No one will find me)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Somewhere In Between

Que le ciel est bleu (France, 2004)
(Nothin' but blue skies)
La luminosité m'attiire (France, 2004)
(Brightness beckons)

Musical Accompaniment from Faith No More

Thursday, February 3, 2011

M'exprimer sans mes mots (still...)

La porte bleue pourrait ouvrir (Arles, France. 2004)
(The blue door could open)

Où jouaient les géants (Le Pont d’Avignon, France. 2004)
(Where Giants Played)

On peut s'échapper (Avignon, France. 2004)
(Escape is possible)

Je me suis senti à la merci des géants 
qui jouent avec nos destins

(I have felt at the whim of the giants who play with our fates)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

No sweetness or light

Tonight no sweetness or light surround me. Day two of barely-together seething about injustice in general, and whatever stupidity is in front of me in particular. I'm not the best wrangler for this powerful Seethe when she arrives, especially when I'm weak. Like now.

I know I am not fit company and it takes my full force to keep myself in that space in-between, where I can pretend life is just like that and make quasi-pleasant conversation.

I feel untethered, forever on cusp. The things that trigger my stress are real, they present clear and increasingly present dangers to my security and satisfaction. I walk a tightrope when I thought I'd at least built myself some sort of bridge. I want to speed up but I'm already teetering. The wind is so cold it freezes my smile in place, and when I try to speak my lips crack.

One foot. The next. And don't. look. down.