Monday, March 23, 2015

the duality of motherhood

{photo credit: my mom, June 2008}

A dozen mothers sat in a circle on the floor, toddlers bounding from laps to toys and back again. Pregnant with my second child, a daughter who was at that time the size of a watermelon in utero, I juggled my son who, at a year and a half, clung to me and my belly like glue. His chubby arms were around my neck, his head under my chin. That summer the heat was overpowering, and the whir of a window fan was the only source of relief until we mothers mustered the energy to get the children into swimsuits and outside to the kiddie pool. Toddlers stuck to sweat covered mamas, water bottles in a rainbow of colors sat between us as we took deep breaths of sticky July air and Cheerio dust.

I remember catching every single one of the mothers sighing deeply. We all commiserated with exhaustion, talking about how DONE we were. With motherhood. With sleepless nights. With dinner time battles and temper tantrums and not having a moment to ourselves. And yet. And yet every one of those mothers - myself included - had in their eyes a look of love held only for their offspring. A softness when their child came up to them needing something. A kindness reserved for boo boo’s and pouty lips. A well of patience that, as any mother will tell you, never truly runs dry.

I've never been a group person, and my time in mommy groups was short lived. However, I received a priceless gift from those playdates: the knowledge that I wasn't going crazy. As mothers we live with duality every moment. The intense love you have for a child still exists in the moments that you want to pull your hair out and walk out the door. The utter disgust that runs through your mind as you change a messy diaper, while at the same time gushing over the cuteness of a baby bum. And also the feeling of isolation that comes with the constant chatter of a child, constant movement and needs to take care of. The isolation that comes from never being alone. Duality, every moment of the day.

If I hadn't seen other mothers live first hand with these dual feelings, I would have thought I was the only one. I would have thought I was going insane. But with connection and conversation came the unspoken acknowledgement of the complicated and gray lives that mothers lead. Nothing is black and white. Nothing is simple. Everything is layered and changes moment to moment.

Outside the air hung around us, toddlers splashed and sat in the kiddie pools that were laid out in our hosts back yard. My son clung to my leg as I tried to inch him closer to the pool, hoping desperately that he would find a place among his peers. Wishing for a bit of space between our bodies to cool my skin, and at the same time praying that his body would never be far from mine.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

collections and reflections

{Collections and Reflections...}

Seashells and painted stones line our windowsills, decorating chipped paint and smudged panes. Touchstones of quiet, reminders of waves and creativity... 

I've been thinking about how I used to write so much, online. About how blogging has changed, and I wonder if that's good or bad, or it just is. I'm reserving my words for the novel I'm working on, and focusing my energy there... but with that comes space from here, and the longer I go between posts the harder it is to write them. When I was writing daily on the blog, years ago, it became a habit. And words flowed more freely, and I didn't think so much before I wrote. 

Now I'm stuck in my head when it comes to sharing my writing here. I share bits and bobbles on Instagram, and they fill the space for writing publicly... for the most part. But there's still a longing for wide open spaces that blog posts offer. So I don't know. Stuck in my head. I think about all of the people who wrote the blogs I connected with years ago, and so many of them just stopped writing. Stopped putting things out there, stopped connecting in this vulnerable way. 

And that's the thing, when you're out of the practice of being vulnerable in a certain way, it takes a long time to get back there. To say, here I am. This is my offering. I don't care what you think, I'm here. 

Because sometimes we really do care what people think, regardless of how much we know their opinions of us don't truly matter. 

Maybe that's what this post is today, me dipping my toes into vulnerability once again. I'm here. Showing up. Trying once again to make a habit of connecting, opening up, spilling over and getting uncomfortable. What else is the point of blogging, anyway? 

Monday, March 2, 2015

February's book pile


February brought with it cold temperatures, lots of snow, and plenty of opportunities to curl up with a book {or ten....} Below are the books that I read this past month.... 

1. Free to Live: Create a Thriving Unschooling Home
by Pam Laricchia

As with Free to Learn: Five Ideas for a Joyful Unschooling Life I enjoyed Laricchia's thoughts on the unschooling. Free to Live is a continuation on her first book, and dives deeper into the unschooling lifestyle. A quick read that is full of insights and while some ideas seem obvious, others gave me pause and many YES! moments.

2.First Frost
by Sarah Addison Allen

Having read all of the authors previous works, I knew that I would be in for a treat reading First Frost. And I was not disappointed. First Frost is a sequel to Garden Spells (Bantam Discovery) , which I didn't realize before I started reading. But even without having read Garden Spells I would have enjoyed First Frost. Another quick read, Sarah Addison Allen weaves beautiful stories that are filled with human truths about love and life, but with a bit of magic that fills in the edges.

3.For Sure & Certain
By Anya Monore

I've followed Anya for over a year now on Instagram, and have been looking forward to the release of her books for almost as long! For Sure & Certain was her first published book, and I gobbled it up. The story was sweet, refreshing, and had plot twists that caught me off guard and kept me reading... and I might have cried at the end... it could have been because I stayed up until 2am finishing the book, or Anya's writing. Let's go with her writing!

4.Fog Island Mountains
by Michelle Bailat-Jones

Fog Island Mountains was one of my favorite books from this past year and then some. It's not only a lesson in Japanese culture, but a view into what our hearts do with grief. Bailat-Jone's writing reads like poetry, and I highly suggest reading this book slowly, savoring each word. It's a breathtaking and heartbreaking tale, one that I will reread again in the near future.

5.Fifty Shades of Grey (The Fifty Shades Trilogy)
by E.L.James

I know. But this is a judgement free zone, and I'm including this in the name of transparency. I'm late to the 50 shades party... but a friend of mine took me on a date to see the movie and then I HAD to read the book because I felt like there HAD to be more to it than in the movie. Obviously, I didn't read the book for the writing {which is subpar at best...} but for the story. And I found the story in the book much different than in the movie, in good ways. I enjoyed parts of the characters relationship that didn't transfer well on screen (the emails between them!! They were funny and sweet and could have definitely taken the edge off of the movie) The books and movie have brought up many discussions, lots of strong opinions, and huge issues. I've read much about it all and have read many well thought out and intelligent articles, if you're interested I can point you in their directions. But I'm not going to get into a big discussion here... I'll just say, I'm glad I read the book to see what all the hype was about, though I'm not sure I'll read the other two in the trilogy...

6.The Magician's Lie: A Novel
by Greer Macallister

I wanted to like this book, very much. I wanted it to be another Night Circus. But it lost me several times. The story itself was fascinating and interesting, but the author just couldn't keep me in it. That being said, it was enjoyable enough for me to finish, but wouldn't mark it a must read.

{You should know that my philosophy on reading is that life is short and there are too many books out there for me to read things that I don't enjoy. This past month alone I've put down three books I couldn't get into for various reasons. So if I've finished the book and it's on this list I enjoyed it on some level :) }

7.The Island Queen: Celia Thaxter of the Isles of Shoals
by Julia Older

Having grown up on the Seacoast of New Hampshire I've always had a fascinating with the Isles of Shoals, and of course a bit with Celia Thaxter. This historic fiction account of Celia's life was a fun, fascinating look at her art, the poets and story tellers that she rubbed shoulders with, and her love and family life. For me it was fun to read about places that I visit daily, the town that we live in was mentioned several times, as well as other spots on the East Coast that are familiar to me. I'm curious to read a biography and see how the stories told in the novel line up to her actual life. This book might turn some off from living on an island in the North Atlantic, but it made me long for ocean spray and being lulled to sleep by the waves... {I'll most definitely put a retreat on the Isles on my wish list!}

8.The Dream Catcher
by Anya Monroe

Her second book, and my favorite thus far! This story felt more developed than her first, the characters a bit deeper and more complex. I loved all of the characters, and I'm finding a love for the whole Young Adult scene. Just like For Sure & Certain, I finished this in a day... staying up way past my bedtime to find out what happened and how everything would turn out! Such an enjoyable read!

by Lily King

Oh my goodness... this book. This book held my interest for every single page, and I'm not really one for exploration and anthropological stuff. But the story is about a strange love triangle, and human nature... and so much more than all of that. The writing was excellent, and even though at first I wasn't sure of how I felt about the ending, it truly fit. All of it fit like an intricate jigsaw puzzle, and it left me in awe as a writer.

10.A Half Forgotten Song: A Novel (P.S.)
by Katherine Webb

February's book list ended on such a strong note! I hand't read anything else by Webb, but I'm aching to now. Webb's writing is intricate and lyrical, and every word is spot on. It was not a quick read, even though I couldn't put it down, because I didn't want to miss a single word. The characters in this book stretch you to find gray areas, and to find your comfort level with them. Because, as Webb talks about in the author Q&A at the end of the book, sometimes good people do bad things, and sometimes bad people do good things. I'm still stunned over the ending, and reminded that our memories are such individual things... two people will never remember an event in the exact same manner.

Phew! I'm not sure March will hold as much room for reading, as I'm making an effort to work on my own novel in a serious manner.... but I'm excited about my to-read pile.. and enjoyed revisiting February's pile. What are you all reading? Anything that you can't put down, or that has stuck with you long after you finished? I'd love to hear!

{all links are amazon affiliate links... click over if you're feeling like doing some book shopping!}