Tuesday. It is 6:15 am and I’m up early. I started getting up early to write when I joined one of Jena Schwartz’s magical 2 week writing groups. I still wake up at 5:30 every morning, pour a cup of coffee, and sit in front of the computer. I haven’t been able to write much though. But every day, I am here, hoping the practice is enough. That showing up is enough.
There is a storm brewing outside. I can hear the wind frothing itself up. It unnerves me. Sudden thunderstorms and rain and flooding are common here, and I still cannot get used to them. I love thunderstorms, but the flooding and the wind, and today, the possibility of a tornado, set me on edge. I want to keep the children home. I want to keep the world away, with its tornados and car accidents and trees falling on people and school shootings and people being blown up on a Paris street and on and on and on.
My daughter has started calling out for me once a night. Sometimes it’s for her pacifier that has fallen. Sometimes it’s because she needs to pee. Last night it was just that she wanted to see me. At a different point in my life, this would have annoyed me, exhausted me. But I welcome the call. She is growing faster than I anticipated, and I just want to see her too.
My son comes into our room in the middle of the night. It’s not good for him, for us, for so many reasons. I always boasted that our kids never slept in our bed, until of course, I was proven wrong. I am surprised by how little I mind. When I wake up and feel his little knees in my back, or the delicate heft of his arm around me, or see him curled up into his father, I feel at peace. He is here, where I can feel him. He is safe. He has not yet grown up and away from me.
Like the weather, like the headlines, what I worry about changes so quickly. Mothering changes so quickly.
Wednesday. 5:54 a.m. Again, up early, again a quiet house, again fighting for the words. Yesterday I got home from the grocery store at 10:30 a.m. and was sweating through the humidity. I went inside, took a shower, made lunch for my daughter and her friend, and went back outside again at 11:15. It had dropped at least twenty degrees, the wind had picked up, and it began to rain. The storm had arrived.
As usual, the anticipation was worse. It rained heavily, for sure, but no tornados, no flash flooding, nothing but a good drenching. Once I realized it wasn’t dangerous, I welcomed it. There is something about being in the middle of a storm, only able to see a few feet ahead of you, that slows things down. I worried about the immediate- how to get the girls from the car to the door without getting them soaked. I reminded myself to buy an umbrella. I bought a tea to warm up. I planned the best way home. I listened to the girls’ chatter, to the hum of the radio. Everything felt like a comfort.
Later that night, my daughter asked to sleep in her big girl bed. She is almost 3.5, definitely ready, but she has resisted. I don’t push her- she always says she is not ready yet, and her crib is so cozy. I can’t argue with that. Last night I watched her dance around her new bed, piling it with all of her stuffed animal friends and at least six blankets. She looked up at me and said, I’m kind of a big girl now. I really loved being a baby, but I have to be a big girl now. Then she launched herself into my arms, and nestled her head into my shoulder. This girl is a champion hugger. I felt pulled into a million pieces, but just hugged her tighter.
After some shenanigans by her brother, and another cuddle and lay-down, she easily went to sleep. I waited for her to change her mind, to call for me, to want her crib back. I am still waiting.
Friday, 6:23 a.m. Head pounding. Can I possibly get a cold on top of a sinus infection? Computer keeps glitching. There is a huge boat-shaped water stain on my living room ceiling. I keep watching it grow bigger, and waiting for the ceiling to fall. My dog keeps staring at me, wanting to go outside, wanting to come back in. Some days it’s hard to start out with ease.
Has it only been a week since the Paris attacks? Every time something like this happens, it feels like my view of the world is taken apart, and I have to find a way to put it back together again. I am looking through a kaleidoscope at a blue world, and now it is purple. Now it is green. No, now it’s green, blue, purple, red, all jumbled together.
The day after the attacks, all I could hear running through my head was a quote from Frederick Buechner- “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things happen here. Don’t be afraid”. My first response was of anger, even rage, and hatred. My first response was to shut down, close walls. But when I posted those words on Instagram, I thought, no. Paris is Paris is Paris and will always be bigger than this. Paris is hundred of years of history and magic and stories and memories that can never be dismantled. And instead of looking toward the terrible, dwelling on the fear, I insist on looking for the beautiful. Even when it’s hard.*
*I wrote this a few weeks ago, and was planning on editing it. But reading it back, I think it’s better as-is, messy and with no ending. It captures what I was feeling then, and I can’t edit that.