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?
This is the pot talking to the kettle, for sure, but deep breaths help … truly sometimes I’m so tense I forget to breathe. Three slow ones … in through your nose, then slowly out of your pursed lips … again … then on the third one, in slowly through your nose, then blow out at all once, in a rush. Then roll your shoulders slowly, stretch your neck this way, then that … all slowly. Then look at Will and take in the moment, as you have been doing so often lately. Or give the calendar over to Blair for two days and visit the good brothers at New Melleray monastery or Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey, near Dubuque to walk, pray, write and think …
Saturday, April 9, 2011 – 03:33 PM
I could RUN in so many directions with what you’ve shared, and I am not even driving children to and fro to all the things that ignite their spirits into life and action.
I think about farmers who milk the cows in the pre-dawn hours, plant the seeds according to the barometer and thermometer and make projections of how their crops will do at the market… these are long days but there is a rhythm to the days of full and honest work. I know that farmer’s have their shares of gripes and stressful aspects to their days, so I shouldn’t romanticize their labor too much.
I sometimes think my datebook would be more manageable if I carved out spaces for good ‘ol honest rhythms. Yet, it’s that Monday’s schedule is so different than tuesday’s schedule. Would the lines that make up the divisions of the hours, days, weeks and months be different if I authentically embraced predictable rhythms?
I guess this is why a gift of sabbath was given, a day to let it be, a day for the hands to know something other than the hoe or the steering wheel. A sabbath day may be hard, but sabbath moments when they come, humble me and help me remember that the world continues to spin and the sun rises and sets with or without my even lifting a finger.
blessings to you and may their be blank spaces in the date book where rhythms of rest, joy and time at the hearth and table abound.
Saturday, April 9, 2011 – 05:21 PM
It is something like birthing…..the joy/anguish,
the anxiety, the sense of time unfurling, the
rush of the unknown, the trusting/holding on
to fate’s decision….when will it all happen? did I
prepare accordingly? will the precious life within
me be alright?….can I endure? will I prevail?
And then… the 9-month center of your world is thrust
out into the universe…the Angels surrounding you,
then unseen, become visible, their song, audible,
and at that pinnacle of the sublime experience, the
weight of the arduous climb lifts from memory, leaving
only the sweet serenity and awe of having participated
in a miracle.
Getting one’s Children through their birthing into adulthood
is not much different…..
a bit less manageable (perhaps because Heaven is not always
allowed pre-birth determination), a bit more fraught with
worry and care, the ties of the centering umbilical cord long
put away, the world allowed to creep into so many of the
nooks and crannies of living, so unlike that other 9-month
sojourn of waiting and protecting, which was so tacitly guarded.
But the time of birthing once again has come ….. you must
now deliver your very heart and hurl him again into the
universe, that the next stage of his precious life might be
As to the present dilemna of time constraints and rushing
hither and yon; choose your battles, armour yourself and
envision the outcome. He may not become all the things
for which he is being prepared, but prepared he will be
for whatever he and fate choose from the all. Don’t sweat
the trivial; let it fade into the background of your days and
bring a good book or The good book to read while daring
to relax with stolen moments in the no parking zone…..
it will be well with your mothers’ soul…. promise..
It’s all merely a prelude to hard earned retirement….
Sunday, April 10, 2011 – 01:44 PM
oh i sooo love, so treasure, the combined and deep wisdoms here. the circle might be small these days, but oh how could i be without it? sabbath moments, sly. breathing, nanc. the wisdom of mary to make the most of the rare idle moments, to read as i sit in the no=parking lane. ever since i read mary’s wisdom i have viewed tomorrow’s no-parking lane as a bit of a delight and challenge to which i shall rise, rather than a pothole to pull me under….
whenever i dare to lay out my anxious heart, it is always met by all of you with true compassion. no tsk-tsking ever unfolds here (or if it does, blessedly you do it under your breath). funny how i live in fear of the tsk-tsk. save that for another day……
for now, i have found an 80-something degree day, and a garden full of cobalt blue blasts. there is a hoe waiting for me. and there is a grill that wants to be put into action. i have an afternoon to do nothing but putter. my sunday school class is taught for the day. my boys are off playing (double bass and baseball, respectively), my mate is at work (poor thing), so i shall march with all of your spirits into my garden. and i will revel.
Sunday, April 10, 2011 – 01:52 PM
Along with all this wisdom, I would add a wee bit of dark chocolate and some cookies always make a busy day better! And some deep yoga breaths too. On a day when the bluebells and tulips opened and the kids are not home, my maternal instinct goes straight to the garden to plant some dahlias. The datebook will be there tomorrow morning. Enjoy the precious earth.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011 – 01:40 PM