Posted in Insight, Mother to Crone

Mothers, SIT Down!

Me & my boys many moons ago

Now that I’m no longer doing it with little kids or teenagers (or even with my husband), I have come to the realization that this every-day, taken-for-granted necessity is as complex and demanding as many top-dollar responsibilities.

Mood, energy level and hunger aside, the thought processes required to fulfill this obligation are exceedingly complex.

Preference, season, local, organic, sustainability, dietary, budgetary, bulk, sale, recipe, occasion, guests… What have I forgotten?

At 55, I cannot believe that anyone is expected to make multi-faceted decisions affecting family health, wellbeing & financial stability while simultaneously caring for children. Women must refuse to do so any longer. It is simply too taxing and motherhood is tax enough. (Men, however, should grocery shop with children as much as possible. For the next thousand years.)

I rarely shop on a Sunday and it was disheartening to see the aisles absent of men this morning, and instead populated by frantic mothers tending to the needs of children while carefully filling a cart.

If ever you ever come across a young mother grocery shopping without children in tow, she looks as if she is on vacation, so freed is her mind to focus or daydream; while men shopping alone often look perplexed or entirely ambivalent.

I always thought I loved grocery shopping. I used to cry when my mother left me behind. Once I could drive, I did the shopping for her. With several younger siblings, I may have simply been hungry. 8 gallons of milk is all I can remember. I can still see the white jugs lining the bottom of my cart with a signed check in my pocket.

When I was lucky enough to accompany my mother as a girl, she would coach me and my younger siblings before heading inside. “Previewing,” is what the educators call it now. Though uneducated, my mother was a brilliant developmentalist. As the eldest of 8 and the mother of 8 (with an absentee husband), this may have been a matter of survival. She often apologized, explaining that as her first, I had been her practice child.

When I went into teaching, she expressed alarm. “All those children,” she’d say, “How will you manage?” But I liked the order and routine of the classroom much better than the chaos and ambiguity of the home, as if those were my choices, which were much better than hers.

It turns out, I was anxious in the classroom too, just as I was in the home and in the grocery store, even alone.

What is this internal pressure?

I wasn’t born with it.

I suppose it was inherited through the generations of women asked to do so much at once with so little recognition of what it is they faced and considered and decided every hour of every day.

Mothers, AMAZE me.
WOMEN amaze me.

SIT DOWN, Women!
Put up your feet.
You deserve it.
YOU ARE ENOUGH.
You are MORE than enough.

TAKE A BOW!

Posted in (Actual) Empty Nest, Adult Offspring, Home again, Mother to Crone

Home again…


Though it doesn’t make it hurt any less to look into their dark and vacant rooms, It turns out that they leave home at just the right time. You’re getting older. Noises bother you. Lights. Chaos. Commotion. You realize you’ve run a marathon and you’re not sure how you did it. You’re more and more attracted to simplicity, ease, slow. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. They’re home!

Posted in (Actual) Empty Nest, Adult Offspring, College, Holidays, Home again, Mother to Crone, What's Next? (18 & beyond)

Home from School

The children, once grown, move in and out of the home like water.

Trickles, flash floods, sun showers, but rarely if ever the familiar steady flow, though evidence of it is everywhere, like seahorses found in the desert.

It all happened so fast.

Not the day-to-day, which seemed without beginning or end, but the vanishing which screams in silence from room to room…

Two placemats on the kitchen table.
The empty bedrooms (though we do our best to avoid them.)
The basement, from which I’ve just returned, with a hand on my heart and another on my belly, as if I’m about to be sick.

Like a morgue, the basement houses the remains of a life once embodied, together.

What to make of the favorite toys? The collections? The artwork? The photos?

I’m a Keeper, the consequence of a fractured childhood.

But now, the keeping weighs me down, leaves me sad, makes me wonder what I am to do with it all (and myself.)

To whom does it belong?
To whom do I?

My mother departed before her nest emptied, so it’s my husband’s mother whose gradual paring of the home I watched over time. I hadn’t known I’d been watching. Absorbing. Digesting. Over three decades. (Three decades!)

I had such hopes for thinning this autumn. But the weather, it kept changing. Inside and around me. The visits fast and furious and sometimes choppy and extended.

“Be like water,” wrote Minister Kendra Ford.

Run deep run clear
fill any space to its
own dimensions
respond to the moon, to gravity
change colors with the light
hold your temperature longer
than the surrounding air
take the coast by storm
go under ground
bend light
be the one thing people need, even when they’re fasting
eat boulders, quietly
be a universal solvent.

Am I water too?

I’m not sure which direction I’m flowing.

Should I swim or float or dive deep like I did each time I welcomed a new baby into my body and onto my breast and into our lives. “I feel like I’m living underwater,” I used to say to friends.

Perhaps I am a beached whale or a fossil of a whale like those discovered in the Green Mountains near Lake Champlain.

In part, it’s the way the leaving instantly aged me, signaled the impending Swan Song. Maybe that’s the secret of large families–perpetually immersed in the sea of new life–wave after wave–grandchildren arriving before the departure of the youngest.

And what of those without children? Do they experience a more seamless, fluid aging?

Must we stay young?

How do we know when. To hold on. To let go.