The problem with wanting to write, with following the thirsty urge that creeps up on my like goutweed in the wee moments of silence, is that I have to place to put it. I don’t mean the physical space, but the active memory castle, the quiet corner, the enablement of the act itself. The urge comes in a wave then passes, whispering. I ache for a moment then carry on with the laundry, petting a cat, placating a husband, yelling at children, pulling old lunches from dirty bags. It taunts me if I’m frank, with rememberances, time past when words flowed easily and the hours passed on my scheduale. The urge is a concious reminder of time as it hurdles past me as I sit baffled and oftimes lost in the wake.

My daughters grow older and I am ever so aware of their detatchment. As infants, toddlers, small children, they seemed just another piece of me, for good or ill, a segment I would some day shed like a worm. Now as they become women, I realize we were more like new risen bread, soft and sweet, made better for the wolume. They are the lodestone to the urge, this desire I harbour to somehow articulate the passage of time and it’s trickster nature. Perhaps Loki was never a person at all but rather, memory and air, silent on it’s way.They make me feel old as they cause me to remember where I have been, and how short the road has been since.

Tonight my eldest and I walked, a lazy walk in the gold spring evening. She mentioned August her birthday month was boring, and tired. Too hot. Too bored. Too bleh.

I smiled and told her that August is secretly my favorite month-not because it’s when she was born, Because my mind sees the dusty orange evenings on my bike, the warm breeze in my face, through my hair. The smell of the ballfield where pick up games would be held. The silence of the afternoons when everything seems to come to a sluggish stop and rest its head for a moment or five, the heat overwhelming desire. The sound the power lines made when the heat took over, zapping through the air. August was always a month of quiet before the world started up again.

Those memories, those slips in time, passing along to her moments she would never see with my eyes…they drive the urge I cannot quench.

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How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?

I can’t help but see time everywhere lately, the lack of it, the amorphous state it occupies, how it is in flux like so much water in a bottle, pulled here and there. Solid but not. Invisible yet, tangible. I can’t help but feel time now in a way I couldn’t as a child, as a young mother. I’m approaching 40, just starting to see it, and with it comes the novelty of the fact that my thirties are almost done, and the reality that death may not be far.

Partly this is because my mother was 43 when she died, and I now know, I mean really know, how young that was. But I’m old enough at 37 to realize I’m likely halfway through the life I’m going to have. Which if I’m honest, is a long time. I think back even to my youngest daughter being born and it’s like yesterday and forever ago. So I know it’s not like I’m going to turn around and be 85 and dying.

So why does it feel that way? I remember believing, truly believing I wouldn’t live to see my 30th birthday. Had I stayed on that path, I likely wouldn’t have. I had no hope for the future, no dreams, no desires. I just was. Yet now, I want to live, I want to see, I want to know more. Is it a lizard brain response, to what to live, to want to experience? Do I just want to never feel the pain and terror death is likely to bring?

I don’t fear death. In some ways I’m curious to see what happens. But the trouble with being an atheist is that an ever after of nothing isn’t very compelling.

I can’t help but turn the idea, the essence of time, over and over in my head like a marble. How funny it is, as wel slip from living in the now of our childhoods to the increasing amount of time we spend living in yesterday and someday as we age. When do we lose the ability to stay present? Why should we?

Those around me age. My father grows older, my father in law every day is closer to losing the battle he’s fought with cancer for years. I can see myself in these battles, see my children in 30 years time, putting up with me gently, and maybe not so gently. Remembering when I loomed large and tall, filled with hope for a future they couldn’t yet believe in. A vast ribbon of continued memory, stretching behind and beyond us.

“Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws.”

Everything is a memory.

There’s a note that a woman hits when she sings O Holy Night that brings me to tears, instantly and quickly, no matter where I am. It’s muscle memory, worn into my skin and bones, of a night sometime, long ago, and love. Triggered into my fingers and echoed in my lips while I mouth the words and feel the shudder of tears against my face.

The light reflected in puddles, yellow sodium burn in muddy snow.

The way my daughter’s head fits neatly under my chin as we stand, arms wrapped around me as she bears down on her own private grief.

___

I was 11 that last Christmas, that year of so many gifts, the year we knew would be the last. I remember being overwhelmed and slightly perplexed. My mother’s relatives were all there, people we never spent time with, strangers to me really. But they rallied around us and we, dealt with it. I didn’t like it. It felt wrong, it was wrong. Our little collective, our family of four. It was…altered that last Christmas and on some level, I resented it.

Not enough to not be completely enamored of the pink jewelry box my Aunt Gert got me, or the set of barbies my father snuck past my mother. The rules were bent, then broken.

When you’re a child you think this is a good thing. Until you grow up, and realize those rules were the only things keeping you safely a child.

Vivian is 11 now, all sprouts and glory, and I suddenly, vividly and unaccountably feel my mother within me. I breathe and she heaves along. I sing and her voice carries past my lips on the last note. I cry and she is there whispering about mockingbirds and starlight. I draw myself up to full height when someone has “done wrong” and I feel her, ramrod inside me, as full of ire and annoyance as I. I see with her eyes, my mother’s eyes and I know.

I always knew leaving must have been hard. Even on the bad days, I couldn’t truly imagine never seeing my daughters again. But to sit talking to my oldest girl, my precocious, over thinking daughter, the one who is so very like me and yet not like me, I feel gutted by how much it must have hurt to know, without any shadows, to know she was leaving. I was just a kid, aware, yet not aware. She was a grown woman, a mother, a lover. She knew. She knew what that leave taking meant. What wounded her destroyed me.

I really thought I was ok with all of it. Yet something will happen and I fill with tears. I feel like I’m walking on glass with myself, waiting for shoes to drop. I dream of my lover dying and in my dream I’m screaming “but I only just found you!!!” and I imagine my father screaming the same to my mother, whispering perhaps, the words mangled and thick on the tongue. We only just found each other, our family of foundlings, and then just as quickly, we were cast apart, forever chained a distance from each other. I really believed I was ok with it, until this year, this month, when I realized that no, I wasn’t.

She is eleven. She is where I was that year, delicate and brutal, fair yet unfair. Unfazed yet terrified. I buy her bras thinking of my mother. Every step we take now is one I never took. I sing a song about her period, I ask her about boys. I remind her to wash her forehead or pin back her hair.

I mourn my mother each time I walk without her. Yet she is there, silently urging me on. Telling me to choose the purple, not the blue. Reminding me we come to womanhood on our own terms, not our mothers.

Telling me she loves me, undoubtedly, as she loves my daughters too.

We us.

She gets sick and she can’t eat then she spends the week poking at her food, moving it around the plate i’m not hungry i’m just not hungry she tells me.

I don’t buy that.

I hold my tongue through the week, through a week where I feel like I’m a failure where ever I land-work is rotten and hard, home is a mess and chaos, newly confused with my father staying the winter with us. My kids seem unmoored and saddened all week long, tethered to nothing but my guilt and anger.

I lose what tentative hold I have on a good mood by Friday, and spend the evening near tears, driving to tears when a kid calls me crying when are you coming home? when we go to grab some groceries and spend a minute or three by ourselves.

I get home and ask, no, demand my daughters to me. We collapse into the spare bed, each of us snivelling our different reasons.

I’m sorry I’m a bad Mom sometimes I say this shit is hard and I don’t know what I’m doing. No one parented me at your age and I get lost, confused and tired.

They tell me I’m not a bad Mom. They tell me why their week was crappy too. Devon got mad because I made a bad pass in basketball. Chrissie called me fat. I felt like you yelled at me when something went wrong.

I knew something had happened, something I couldn’t interpret until she told me. I knew she worried at her 11 year old belly, the one that pops before you sprout up. The one that’s only made worse by shirts that don’t fit while she grows faster than I can keep up with.

I slapped my friend when she said that she says.

Good. I know it’s likely not the right response, but I don’t care. Bitches, I tell her. Some people are bitches, and we don’t want them in our lives. Bitches fill our heads with voices we don’t own.

She sighs. She’s nice most of the time.

Wouldn’t you rather someone who’s nice ALL the time?

We settle into each other, and spoon for a few minutes, quiet.

I hate weeks like these but at the same time, I love them for those moments. The minutes where it’s just us against the world, the three of us, entwined, bodies who remember. I am they and they are we.

37

So today I turned 37.

I don’t pay much attention to birthdays and such….years of disregard and overblown expectations have left me at a place where I just can’t be bothered to pay much attention. I managed to convince my boss to convince four different people at work that no, I don’t want a cake, and no, I don’t want a big deal and no, no, no.

I don’t even like having my birthday written on a board but I deal with it.

The day itself, the theoretical turning of a year, another notch on the headboard of my years, I disregard. I am as old as I am, and will be however old I become. You can’t age out my brain after all.

But in thinking, staring at the foggy sunrise as we drove through the tweedy farmland, I realized how 7 years ago I was calling myself a youngin against the 40 some years of some other women I know, laughing, marveling, imagining what 40 must feel like. Believing it old, a marker against some mystery I’d never grasp. But now I’m nearing that point and I still know them and I still see the gasping wonder and disbelief I too feel.

We never really grow up. The elders in our lives are perpetually playing at being responsible and knowing what’s right. They don’t know either. They still feel like kids inside, deep inside. They still believe in hobbits and fairies. Their hair doesn’t fall out.

They don’t know either.

It comforted me, It scared me.

I shrugged, stared as always at the beautiful horses misty in the early day.

I’d feel old if I believed it possible.

Circles

It’s really been a week, with the kids returning and my contract up soon with hints of “you’ll like the offer” but no offer, and cold weather (seriously, 8C? In AUGUST?) and just the sheer level of bullshit from my ex husband. It’s been a tiring, exhausting heartbreaking week. Yet all my brain can focus on is boobs.

As in, my kid has them.

It’s not like it’s a huge surprise, not intellectually. I remember about 6 months before she died, my mother taking me to get camisoles because they were IMPORTANT and I needed them as I was becoming A WOMAN and squee! the one I really liked had a little fox on the top with sparkly glass eyes and all I cared about was that damn fox, not the fact that I suddenly had another layer between my shirt and my apparently untrustworthy body. But I don’t really remember getting boobs. One day there were bumps, and in my memory shortly after, there were C cups.

It was shortly before the camisoles that I was soundly chastised for riding my bike without my shirt on. It hadn’t occurred to me that it mattered and my mother did not share my opinions on gender fluidity. Why did it matter? I had a flat chest like them, I rode bikes like them, I played Go-Bots with them.

My mother never really explained why it mattered, just yelled at me to put my damn shirt on and show some decency.

So if I say boobs fill me with a sort of anxiety, and in some ways confuse me, I wouldn’t be lying.

It’s not just the boobs. It’s the filling out of the body, the slow morph into womanhood that’s started. I watched V walk away from me the other day and realized that soon, very very soon, I’d have to start having more detailed conversations about how to handle unwanted attention and what a womanly body can unfortunately denote. I did everything I could to present as male for a very long time, and was mostly successful when I wanted to be. The idea of myself as a girl/woman? Unheard of. Unknowable. I couldn’t, in my mind, equate the two things. And unless I’m mistaken, V feels the same way. She carries her body in the same jangly state of ignorance, ill fitting clothes, socks to her knees rammed into shoes full of holes. She is completely free from the body politic and it’s refreshing and in a way, scary. Because when it hits, it will hit hard and fast and she’ll be gasping for breath and wondering what the hell happened.

I took her for her first bras months ago, and yes, had a little cry in the dressing room with her. She looked at me, with that mix of loathing and helplessness, and started to ask me to leave. I told her no. This was important. This I never did with my mother, and I needed to do it. She shrugged and started bitching about how uncomfortable it was.

Welcome to womanhood I joked.

In a way, I think I was saying that to myself as well, come full circle to start again.

So, this happened.

So yeah hi.

I stopped blogging about 3 years ago, about when I feel madly stupidly in love and watched my life turn itself inside out and upside down and back together like a game of Jenga but with more skittles. I had a busy life and just not really enough “trauma/drama/excitement” to take the time to post. And other events kept me a little more reticent than usual and slowly, I just dripped away.

I’ll be honest and say that I was formulating my new life and new me in my head, and was at times angry and jealous of others. I was incapable of seeing beyond my own nose and was in some ways trapped in my head.

I was also a very broke, single mother, who was in the middle of selling her first house, that house. The one that dreams are made of, the one that was supposed to last forever.

Life has a tricksy way of saying “no, not today.” when you least expect it.

Then one day I just…felt well. I had started becoming something new almost immediately after my husband left me. Something changed, something moved my chest and awakened parts of me that had really had life before. It was a slow process, borne through so little time, a new love, growing children, dreams which were tucked away because they didn’t work. I lost some weight. I put some back on. 

Importantly, I found a partner who loves me. Or as I say, “Is stupid for me.” Have you ever been loved like that? Have you ever had someone tell you, even when you’ve been puking all night and kinda smell like a septic tank gone bad, that you’re the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen?

I have. I have this. This is my life now. It’s what I imagine people who win a lottery might feel like, waking and realizing, I’m rich. I mean, I’m still broke, but my life is unaccountably, amazing rich. We bought a house. We bought a car. Our land is across from a lake, and has a stream running behind it. There’s fish and birds and the slow burble of water. 

When I was 17, when I had a vague desire of a future, before I shut it off that forecasting, I saw this place. I saw these walls, I saw the light across the windows, the cats soundly snoring on the chairs. I saw this life. I wanted this. I have this life.

It’s still pretty incredible to me, after all this, after what I’ve had and lost, that I’ve come full circle. It’s like the universe hit “reset” and I really and truly got a second chance to be happy.

And I am so very happy.

___

But I don’t know if this space will really be about that. I mean, happiness is great and all, but let’s face it. It’s mind numbingly boring to read about and how many times can you really say the same things over and over again? Russian novelists never wrote about the happy marriages after all.

What I am interesting in exploring is the growth of my daughters. I lost my mother at 11. My eldest daughter just turned 11. I have very sparse memories of that time, and little to no map of how I was parented. After Mom died, I really just wasn’t. So I’m worried. I’m worried about fucking my daughter up. I’m worry about not being there as she needs, or being there too much. I’m worried that my motherloss will alienate my daughters. 

I worry I’ll just be a bitch frankly.

So hopefully I can look at that a little objectively here-my own choose your own adventure for parenting after motherloss.

Should be fun.