About seven years ago, I approached the head of our Arts Ministry at church and asked her if we had a writing group I could be a part of. Having recently left singing professionally because the time commitment was too much for my fledgling family, I was looking to find my voice again, and writing was as much a part of my DNA as music, so I picked up my pen and returned to the solitary task of writing.
Lonely for community and desiring the synergy that comes from creating in the midst of other creators, I decided a writer's group would be a great next step. Alas, our church's Arts Ministry did not have a writer's group, so I went away disappointed. I would have to write alone.
Always a little on the slow side, it took me a good six months before I realized I didn't need to "write off" the idea. If I wanted there to be a writer's group at the church, all I needed to do was start one. Psalm 45:1 was born in the fall of 2001, and over the last seven and a half years it has grown into a tight-knit community of deliciously quirky and delightful friends who sometimes have nothing more in common than our desire to put words down on paper. But that has been enough.
Were I to attempt to name them all, I would surely forget someone, so I will not attempt. But this group has been both a creative and spiritual touchpoint for me, and there is not a single life within it that has not touched mine. I have been blessed beyond measure that they have chosen to come hang out with me once a month, and have thanked them for it every time.
But the wind has been picking up for some time now, and I have been keenly aware that a new season is around the corner. I used to think, in my naivete, life would get easier as my children got a little bit older. Things would slow down. I could regain some of my own life again. I was not only mistaken, I was deluded. My children need me home more now, at six and almost ten, than they ever did as babies, and I need to embrace that, turning into the wind, surrendering, arms wide open, to its invisible force.
There are only a few more years left to snuggle in bed before lights out--to hear the confessions of the day, to talk about troubled friendships, to answer questions about the kinds of things I want my children to be asking me about and no one else. I need to be there for every possible moment, before those moments are gone. That means there are other moments I must miss elsewhere--writer's group, card night, working late, evening lessons. It is a trade off.
In my best moments, I have a peace about this. My children are, in truth, my highest priority and I love being their Momma. I WANT to be there. In my less certain moments, it feels a little like a death. How much more must I give up? I have laid down all that is important to me, all that has defined me, all that has given me life. What will the return on that be? Will there be a return at all?
I know the answer is yes. But I am sad tonight, nonetheless. I know these friendships will endure, and I know I will continue to write. My daughter even has aspirations of joining me--perhaps in a few years that will look like me and a group of teenage girls at a coffee shop with notebooks, who knows. I will remind myself, again, that this is not an ending--it is a new chapter. And writing new chapters is, after all, what I do best.
Bub (in the middle) with two good buddies at the ACSI regional speech meet this past Friday. Three kids from each class get chosen to go--last year, she learned about disappointment. This year, she tasted success. Despite being sick (and you thought I was kidding when I blamed the kids), she received a Superior rating and a very pretty blue ribbon. Next year, she wants to write her own speach. You go, girl!
Writing will resume when I can lift my head up off the couch long enough to pull out my laptop. Gathering complete thoughts and forming them into sentences doesn't seem to be a realistic goal at this point. So, in the meantime, me and the cat and my extra ten pounds aren't going any where. Season Three, here we come.
first it was my daughter. a nice upper respiratory bug. followed by me, getting slammed with a sinus infection. she got better. i got better, finally. then came my son, flowing with goopy yellow snot. (let's just tell it like it is, shall we?) followed my me, slammed with another sinus infection. i feel like i've been hit by a truck. a big, achey, snotty, fatiguey truck.
next time, i'm quarantining the children.
so, instead of writing, i've been parking my fanny in front of season 2.5 of battlestar galactica and sucking down vitamin c. fun times. don't tell me what happens next...
My in-laws, who provide our childcare, have just returned from a month in Florida. While coming home from shopping tonight, we reminded our children of this fact. "Hooray," they shouted, quickly followed by, "grits for breakfast tomorrow!"
The sentiment was revisited later, as my son lifted up his night-time prayers:
"Dear God. Let's hope we have a good day tomorrow. Let's hope the grits are good. And that Grandma has bacon bits."
Happy comfort beckons from behind smudged glass; the folded paper sign reading “Last Night’s Cookies. $1.00.” I regard their perfect head-sized shape, irrepressibly hungry for the warmth in my center that can only come from the devouring of half a dozen. I contemplate my emptiness—the echoing void that calls for carbohydrates because nothing else satisfies—and I feel my waist band reminding me that my pants, if nothing else, are full. Mouth watering, I consider home-made scones as big as bricks and muffins surely more effective than the stupid SAM-e I suck down every morning in an attempt to forget my troubles and common get happy. Surely… I take a deep breath, trying not to think of all the happy cookie-eating people in the world, trying not to think of the empty growling in the pit of my psyche, trying not to think of just how deep that sadness goes, and I look away and order a salad instead.