There was a long time when I wrote obliquely about things I hadn’t yet been fully honest with myself about. I circled around, paced, and employed any other manner of metaphor for restlessness. Contained. Simmering in a dangerous dance of denial.
There was a period of time when there was no containment. Everything roared and gushed out of me, a genie from a bottle in a dangerous dance of becoming.
There was a time when I imagined such a thing as balance, that fairy state of being in a groove. Kind of reminds me of the idea that when I have structure and stability, I crave adventure, and yet adventure can feel like chaos, which frankly does not appeal. So much for that theory, little more than a dangerous dance of fantasy.
These days, what? Being a writing mother is proving challenging, and not for the obvious reason of not having much time to write. You can always write. As Audre Lorde wrote in an essay called “Poetry is Not a Luxury,” “poetry can be done between shifts, in the hospital pantry, on the subway, on scraps of surplus paper.” Same could be said for blog posts, journal entries. Who doesn’t dream of residencies and retreats, when what life offers up are snow days, walkways to shovel, trips to the ER, litter to scoop, oil changes, single parenting, and forty-hour work weeks? This dance of mundanity is dangerous only when we think life is waiting elsewhere.
Much of my attention is on myself as a parent these days, and on one girl’s dance towards puberty. And that is not something I can write about here without being oblique, out of respect for her privacy and to honor the trust I so want to keep building between us.
I recently purchased a journal called just between us, designed with guidelines, prompts, and blank pages for mothers and daughters to communicate through writing, a dimension in some ways much freer, safer, and more spacious than attempts at talking. Unless one of us specifies the desire for a response, there isn’t one. We notify the other of new entries with a codeword we came up with together. I am learning things about her beyond my observations,and telling her things she may not have otherwise known. The sense I have is of fortifying some solid ground on which our daily interactions, be they embattled or easy, can occur in a reciprocal dance of navigation.
Meanwhile, her sister dances, too, to her own rhythm at turns enthusiastic, affectionate, and explosive. I want to shine on them both, without condemning the shadows or trying to guess at the inevitable blind spots. They are called blind spots for a reason, so I may as well pay attention to the things I can see rather than worry about the things I can’t, or don’t.
When I first started blogging, I was also building a business as a life coach. I would often end posts with a question, a prompt, some kind of invitation to engage. Over time, I abandoned this contrivance in favor of letting the words land where they may.
Tonight, though, I find myself curious: What dances are you dancing? What is the ground that holds you up?
Tell me about the waves that wash away your composure, the tides that redirect your course, the shores where you come to rest, and the detours you take away from dead-ends.
Share something here. Or here. It will be just between us.
Image: Mary Turner Buchanan