Wednesday, August 27, 2008

in the beginning...

Another writing prompt that I decided to finish, this one from July’s Writer’s Group. “I am thinking of…”

I am thinking, in my blank-mindedness, of how hard it is to begin. How hard that first idea, those first few steps into the wilderness to forge the trail can be. Which direction? Toward the mountains? The valley? The meadow? Where do I let my feet take me? Where do I let my pen take me?

How something can be so simple yet so complex is beyond me. There are days when words tumble from my pen onto paper so fast my fingers can’t keep up with my brain. Then there are days when I sit down with a pen and seemingly forget how it works. Forget how to put it to paper. Forget how to create. How to begin…

I’m thinking of all the ideas that fill my files at home. Essays, articles, books. All ideas. Like eggs banked for another time, they wait for life to come to them. Some I return to, others continue to wait—reminding me, mocking me, calling me. Ideas that need to be begun…and then begotten.

And so how is it that one begins? How is it that Julie writes daily and I write monthly, at best? Where does the difference lie? Is it a lack of discipline? Of creativity? Of time? Or is it a lack of courage?

Beginning takes courage. Saying, “This is the path I am going to take. It starts here.” Putting pen to paper, letting the words come even then you don’t like the words. Letting the feelings come even when you don’t like the feelings. Letting your pen bring forth life whether you like the life it brings forth or not. This is risk. This is faith. This is writing.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

the beat goes on

While I didn't do much posting this summer, I DID manage to do some writing. With the help of a book by Natalie Goldberg titled Old Friend From Far Away, I began doing writing practice a few days a week. I had hoped to post some of them, but never found the time. But now that the kids are back to bed at 8:00 (HALLELUIA!!!), I hope to share a few of them with you. The prompt for this one was "I remember..." I thought it fit well with the back to school theme, so I finished it along that vein...

I remember when I was at the center, not around the circumference. Eyes six inches from my own, searching, seeking, finding. I remember when only I could satisfy, only I could calm, only I could delight. I remember the days when Momma was everything—the mender of boo-boos, the singer of lullabies, the holder of hands, the keeper of secrets, the receiver of kisses. And I remember the fullness of my heart mixed with the sadness of knowing that which every mother knows. This will not last. This will not last. This will not last. With every heartbeat, I’ve tried to remember. Be here. Be here now. This will not last.

Some mothers accept this with ease—the natural rhythms of life flow through their days and they are always in step with its beat. I, on the other hand, seem continually lost in the music, swaying off-tempo, hoping the song won’t come to an end. Long known for overstaying my welcome, I still struggle with letting go and knowing when to make my exit.

My daughter is nine now, and I am moving to the periphery. I try to accept it with a smile, encouraging her independence with no small amount of fear brewing within. But my smile is strained—not the full, teethy grin of happiness but the forced pull of the cheeks upward to reassure her, and everyone else, that I am okay with this.

But I am not.

My son, my baby, is five, and I am no longer the center of his days. I share him with a delightful woman named “Mrs. Smith,” splitting my precious time with him between us. She is wonderful, but I share him, nonetheless. I do not like to share. Just ask my husband. Just ask my children. I try to share, but it is compulsory at best, insincere and begrudging at worst. And it makes me grumpy, to boot. I am not okay with this.

I remember my training. I remember the years of childhood development classes and experience working with children and families. I remember my own struggle toward independence. I know I must let go. I know I must let go well. But knowing and wanting to are two entirely different things, and the second comes much less easily than the first. (And the first doesn’t come easily in the first place.) I remember the advice to put our marriage first, because when the children are gone, we will only have each other. I remember thinking, “Well, DUH. Of course we’ll put our marriage first.” And I remember when I first recognized that my priorities had inadvertently shifted.

My children have become the center of my world, and I am slowly but surely moving out of the center of theirs. I must learn to be okay with this. I must. I will. It just isn’t going to happen tonight. Because tonight, as my children grow up before my eyes, you will find me thumbing through baby books, wondering where the years went, listening to the beat of my mother-heart…

Be here. Be here now. This will not last.