that ol’ nemesis: datebook

it’s not the first time i’ve felt strung up by my datebook. oh no. not even close.

maybe it’s just that it’s worn me down to the rough-sawn bone.

it is a modern mother’s dilemma: you write it all down, to get it all done, but when you look at the page, you get dizzy. short of breath. queazy bellied.

you look at the calculus there on the page, and you realize it’s an equation to stump even the most enlightened.

you don’t set out to cobble together a datebook with squiggles and swirls, and multiple colors of ink. you are not trying to illustrate the madness that is your life at the moment.

you are simply recording who needs to be where, and when.

so how come it makes me so queazy?

how come these last two months of the schoolyear, of high school for one of my two, how come once again it feels like a slammer?

i find myself whispering to myself, as i drive from place one to place two, “God only gives you what you can handle. good thing, babe, you only had two.” i can’t imagine the scene if i’d had the six or four or three i’d long hoped for.

i walked into my editor’s office yesterday, to ask about one of my stories. she asked how it was going, i flipped back, “oh, it’s insane.” she, a solid swede who never gets ruffled, flipped back: “you’re always insane. just don’t let it be.”

i carried those words with me the rest of the day: just don’t let it be.

hmm. and how would i do that? what does that look like?

i have two kids. one does two sports plus fourth grade. shouldn’t be too complicated. i have another who carries a nearly impossible load, including an art class that keeps him up till 5 in the morning, what with all the drilling and glueing, the mounting of beach grass in neat little lines, on a rolled-out base of self-hardening clay. and did i mention peculiarly bent tubes of copper? it’s intricate and beautiful. but it scares me to death. say, when he leaves it to dry on the floor of the kitchen, in the space where we walk from one room to another. besides the art, there’s the fine sport of rowing. and a chamber orchestra load that, for instance, has him awake at 4 in the morning to get on a bus to roll down to orchestra hall, for a recording on stage. and i’m due to idle outside, in the no-parking lane, to rush him from end of recording, to 15 miles away, where a boat of rowers will be waiting on the banks of the river. that’s on the docket for monday. never mind tuesday or wednesday.

did you read that paragraph there? it’s what’s making me nuts.

but my editor says, soundly, “don’t let it.”

so i come to the table, to ask: how is it done? how do we take on these loads and not sink under the weight of it, the here-and-there of it?

maybe i should have been some sort of a monk. holed myself up in a cloistered existence. worried about simple things, like when the chives were about to burst into bloom. or how much my knees hurt, kneeling there on the hard stone slabs at vespers at 3 in the morning.

maybe i was cut out for another life.

maybe being a mother in the 21st century is not my natural habitat. maybe i’m driving everyone nuts with all of my worries. and all of my odd calculations, trying to figure how long i can idle in that no-parking lane before the cop blows his whistle, slaps on a ticket?

it’s that ol’ nemesis datebook, back to bite me again.

i long for the zen. for serenity. for nothing more taxing than gathering blooms from my garden. for snipping fine herbs in my stew.

i need a prescription, i fear, to get through to the end of the school year. (pssst, i don’t mean a white little pill; nor a blue one. just some method to clear all the madness.)

and the sad thing is this: these are the final weeks that my firstborn and i will ride the waves of his everyday life.
i’d better figure it out, before i let these days swirl down the drain.

anyone have an eraser?

i need your counsel and wisdom: how do we take on a jampacked calendar, and not succumb to our worst worried selves? anyone else feel stretched to the point where you hear a snap in your head? anyone know the words to the serenity prayer?