It’s been a tough week. Not for any reason in particular. Just hard to regain solid ground. Hard to move towards some sort of equilibrium after the Easter break. To reconcile myself to the limited time I have to read, to write, to idle. I’ve noticed that even in my daily writing (the fifteen minutes of something small), I don’t want to be fully alone with myself.
I try to trace these feelings of suffocation and constriction back to their source. They seem to be simply a rising panic, a strange desperate sense that I should be doing more. That something small is not enough. I feel like I’ve reached this point before: notebooks full of words; scraps and observations; ideas and beginnings. But nothing finished. Nothing complete. I start writing a poem in an old notebook. The poem on the page before is dated May 2009. Five years ago. Two children ago.
With time at my disposal, say an hour in the evening after the little ones are in bed & before B gets home, I find myself frantic with excitement, and yet full of disappointment for all the things that I can’t do simply because I have to choose one from among them. And then, the time has passed without anything of note accomplished. Just as in the days when the Biscuit was newborn, I’m blinded by indecision, overwhelmed by all the things that I could do, to the extent that I don’t actually do anything. Rachel Cusk describes exactly this feeling so brilliantly in A Life’s Work:
…it is when the baby sleeps that I liaise, as if it were a lover, with my former life…I dash about the house unable to decide what to do: to read, to work, to telephone my friends. Sometimes these pleasures elude me and I end up gloomily cleaning the house, or standing in front of the mirror striving to recognise myself.
What helps? Yoga last night: focusing on only my body. Compulsively reading Anne Truitt‘s Daybook (as recommended by Theresa, for which I’m incredibly grateful). More on this another time, but despite differences of generation, location, resources (she did have a live-in maid), reading her thoughts on integrating art and life (in particular life with small children) is helping immensely. Trying to go slowly, trying to be kind to myself – but to push myself too. Knowing that this stage is coming to an end. In September the Moose will start school. I will have two children in one place, apart from anything else saving six hours a week of driving to & from pre-school. Things will get easier.
I stepped out of the back door & took these photos earlier while the children were upstairs, already in their nightclothes, waiting for their bedtime drinks of milk. That helped too. A few minutes alone in the garden, just noticing. Watching how industriously the bee worked at those barely open flowers. Seeing how it never quite stopped moving. I just need to keep the faith.