A trail of pebbles

I hardly blog about parenting anymore.

It’s not because I don’t have opinions to share or thoughts to express. It’s that I finally arrived at a place where I understand that most of what I say or think about parenting is either obvious or worthless.

Obvious to the older or more veteran demographic who, at best, might compassionately respond to what I write with a nod, “Oh yes, I remember that time of life.”

Worthless to the younger or less experienced demographic who, at best, can’t possibly imagine ever being in my situation, so focused they are on the stage of life, couplehood or parenting they are in right now.

I suppose, too, when it comes to parenting, I find my voice so boring I can’t even stand to read what I write.

This is when you should stop writing about a topic.

At least, this is when I should.

So I did. For a while.

Instead, I expressed my Parent Self through photographs and filters; as I tried to filter through what it meant that I no longer wanted to express myself as a parent.

My little Israeli hansel and grettl

I think I figured it out.

I stopped caring so much.

Which is unimaginable to me considering how much I used to

CARE.

How all-consumed I was as a mother.

How all-consuming my children were.

(“Yes, you were,” say my Greek chorus of family and friends in unison from the shadows of my not-so-distant past.)

But I got tired of caring.

Literally. Physically.

Tired.

Wiped out. Sucked dry. Milk gone.

From my breasts. From my galaxy.

There I was (there I am)

a heap of flesh, in desperate need of my own nourishment.

In need of someone like me to care so much about my needs, my safety, my future.

To hang my art on the refrigerator door.

To give me a Time Out.

To tie my hair back in a long, silky ribbon

and kiss me softly, with no expectations, in that region of my neck below the ear.

 

* * *

I just finished reading Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld, an author whose work I always love, always connect to. In the book, the main character is a mother of two very young children. She, like I was when my kids were infants and toddlers, is all-consumed by her role as mother. She wants to be not just a good mother, not only the best mother, but a mother IN CONTROL.

Because life, and more specifically parenting, is too overwhelming otherwise. At least for those of us like Kate (the main character) whose lives are precariously balanced between intuition and anxious uncertainty. At least for those of us who believe our children are a reflection of our commitment to parenting them.

On the one hand, I related very much to this character. I used to be her, to the smallest, organic, breastfeeding detail. On the other hand, I found her annoying and shrill. It’s clear the author does, too. In fact, she references just how shrill Kate is and sounds on more than one occasion. It’s clear, too, Sittenfeld is on the otherside of “all-consuming motherhood.” She is, in a way, mocking Kate. Lovingly so.

It was in the reading of the book that I fully understood (and admitted to myself) how I feel a tiny bit embarrassed by her. Not by Kate, but my Me. The former Me. The one who cared too much.

And how I feel a tiny bit ashamed of Her. Not the Her I used to be. Me. Now. The Her who doesn’t care so much.

I don’t really want to be either of them. Her then or Me now.

I want to be somewhere else.

Someone else.

But who?

* * *

The older demographic of my readers will likely nod at this post, “Oh yes, I remember that time of life.” That in between space. That desperation for nourishment. That guilt for wanting Me back so badly. The conflict between loving these children so much I can’t stand it and wanting them to leave the house RIGHT NOW so i can write so I can read so I can nourish myself. Me Me Me.

The younger demographic of my readers will likely have already stopped reading at the first paragraph, so all-consumed and convinced they are that their choices today directly impact tomorrow. So sure they are, as I was, that tomorrow will be intact and unassailable for their children if only they pay close enough attention.

And again, I am bored by my words. Turned off even as I write them. Swearing off, once again, blogging about parenting.

But I won’t forsake my Greek Chorus their collective voice. Their somewhat smug, somewhat compassionate nods.

I won’t assume that I am the only mother in that in between space.

I’ll leave a trail of pebbles so that you may find your way to me and tell me I’m not alone.

Tell me you remember that time.

Tell me you are in it right now.

Tell me you too are tired.

Tell me my children will forgive me my selfishness.

Tell me I will fill up again.

Tell me I will be more than this.

Tell me.

I give up knowing it all.

I give it up.

 

 

Art of attraction

Art begets art, don’t you think?

Of course, we may disagree on the definition of art. But I find the more I notice, the more I notice.

The more I write, the more I photograph, the more I dream.

The more I read, the more I feel, the more I write.

When you open up — even just a little — to noticing and noting, you are actually working your art muscle.

What I say is not new. It’s not an original thought. Many more experienced at attracting art have said it before I just did.

But I notice it happening to me.

I see poetry in my photographs, and color in my poems. The art of one lends itself to the other, and suddenly I feel as if I am getting somewhere.

swoosh

It’s not that I am a constant rushing stream of good art. Some of it is just purge.

Pages filled with strike outs.

I look like this sometimes.

selfie beat poet

But then I laugh at myself. At my #selfie.

And I share it with you.

And my nervous heart strengthens a bit when you laugh along with me… in the knowing fully that you understand I’m half joking.

* * *

There’s something that gets in my way, though.

Thinking. Too much thinking. About getting somewhere with my art.

This, too, I notice.

It’s like that moment when I realize I am lucid dreaming and I know if I think too hard about it, I will wake up. So I try not to think — just breathe, I say — but this in itself is thinking.

POP!

Out of the dream.

Or, more simply, it’s like losing your cross-eyed stare once you finally become aware of the 3D image in a Magic Eye design. I see it! You cry. Then,

POP!

Back to staring at blurry peacock feathers.

What’s the real magic trick?

Minding your thinking, I suppose.

Noticing it, yes, but allowing thoughts to float away as easily as the 3D Magic Eye design.

Blur it away on purpose.

Master this, and become a Master.

Dance as a writing prompt?

My new friend Miriam is a long-time professional dancer and choreographer. I met her in a writing workshop at Bar Ilan University and have enjoyed hearing her tales of dance, particularly those she found herself in while living in far-flung areas of the world foreign to me.

But yesterday, Miriam surprised me even more when she led our group in a movement exercise designed to be used as a writing prompt.

Movement as a writing prompt?

While I’ve sometimes walked around outdoors as a way to move past writer’s block, I never would have guessed that following simple guided instructions on how to move in space would bring such a wealth of content to the surface …and so quickly.

The experience for me was remarkable. While in it, I was singularly focused on following Miriam’s instructions. But as it turned out, my body’s movement allowed my mind to relax … and open up to new ideas.

In the final of three exercises, Miriam instructed us through a series of varying movements during which we were to write our name in the air. For the final movement, however, we were to present ourselves to the group, then write our name in the air.

jen

I noticed a grave difference between how I felt when I moved independent of the group and wrote my name in the air, and how I felt presenting my name inside and to the group. The difference was physical. An ease that accompanied my independent movements … a stiffness that showed up once I faced the group.

This physical discomfort stirred inside my creative space afterwards, when we sat down for ten minutes to write.

And it was this discomfort that became a poem that I dare to share with you…

The Group.

Take care with my bare heart …

With the me out there.

===

 

Me Alone Meets Me Out There

Will I always be two Mes?

The Me alone and the Me out there?

When I am Me alone, fast or slow, I am me.

Giggly, thoughtful, silly me.

When I am Me out there, within without, I am not me.

I am a stilted lilted version of me.

A me wrapped in bubble wrap.

A me on display.

I am cute, a hoot, but not a whole

Me.

I wish the two Mes would meet one day

On the street, on the stage,

in the office, on the page

And decide to become one.

The Me alone

and the Me out there.

Easy peasy pair.

==

(All content, including poetry, is original — unless otherwise noted — and copyright Jen Maidenberg.)

I’m happy and I know it … clap your hands

I giggle.

I work hard to make others giggle.

I dream…and enjoy analyzing my dreams.

I engage on social media.

I innovate (at work)

I create (at home)

I write.

I share my writing with others.

I bake cookies.

I surprise the people I love with small treats or notes.

I want to be around people.

I want to know them.

I want to learn more about them.

I want to discover what we have in common and how we can help each other.

I sing.

I kiss my husband.

I take beautiful pictures.

Or silly ones.

Mr. Sunglasses Face

This isn’t a list of the things that make me happy.

It’s a list of ways I know that I am happy.

That life is working for me.

These are ways I know I am doing what is required to care for myself so that my life is one I enjoy … or, at least, feel reasonably satisfied by.

Often times, we think  — if we think at all — about the things that make us happy.

Ice cream.

Sex.

Vacation.

Money.

Baseball.

Air conditioning.

We make mental or actual lists of all the things we need in our life in order to be happy. Or we delineate end goals or possessions we are convinced will make us happier if only we reach them or one day have them.

Better job.

Better wife.

A baby.

Older kids.

A degree.

More sleep.

More quiet.

Less stress.

And while some of us are good at being grateful for what we have– and even acknowledging the good in our life — I don’t often hear from my inner voice listing off the ways I know I am happy now.

Right now.

Or what happy looked like back when it colored my life.

What does happy look like?

Who are you when you’re happy?

If we don’t know what happy looks like, how will we ever get there?

I’ve noticed over the past few weeks that my happy evidence is somewhat missing from the scene.

This was a red alert for me to DO SOMETHING.

So I started thinking about my list.

The list of things that act as evidence that I am happy.

And I started doing those things.

Even though I wasn’t yet happy.

And today, I’m happier.

(I didn’t say HAPPY.)

But

I’m writing.

I’m baking.

I’m spending time with real live human beings.

And engaging a little with the imaginary real live human beings on my screen.

What does happy look like for you?

How will you …

How do you…

recognize it?