Wednesday, June 01, 2011

time is an anxious habit I'm longing to kick

T  U  R  N  I  N  G

Going too fast for myself I missed
more than I think I can remember

almost everything it seems sometimes
and yet there are chances that come back

that I did not notice when they stood
where I could have reached out and touched them

this morning the black shepherd dog
still young looking up and saying

Are you ready this time

—W. S Merwin

* * *

Today is a normal sort of day. Today we will eat breakfast and lunch and dinner at home. The baby will nap in her bed, and not after a fit of rage in a restaurant. We will not get the car from the garage and heist wheelchairs and strollers inside, squeezing ourselves between car seats and stashing packages underfoot. We will not troll the blocks looking for parking, nor will we take a taxi. We will not go to the zoo or the museum or the toy store.

Today is a normal day. It is also the day my mother-in-law leaves. Her trip was rather uneventful this time, I didn't break down in tears or flee to the car to pout. But, because Genevieve had bronchitis, I didn't see her as much as I have in the past. Which says something.

Balancing kindness toward my MIL and kindness towards myself is a difficult act. The golden rule doesn't help when that-which-you'd-like-done-unto-yourself will inevitably cause displeasure when done-unto-the-other. I am left with a bewildering puzzle of a person--the woman who raised my husband--whose motives, sensibilities and mores are quite unlike my own. Her presence is like spending a week with someone scraping her fingernails across a chalkboard: I am forever trying to get out of earshot.

I have been waiting for it all to be over, and now it is. I am here. Now. I remind myself, I am here.

Being a mother is a difficult stretch for me in one way: timing. I am so not good at it. Left to my own devices I just do one thing after another with no reference to the clock at all. Deadlines--such as dinner at 7:00--would pop up on me unawares and in response I'd brandish a cereal box. But the responsibility of parenting weighs heavily on my breezy time-management policy. Naps must be taken, meals prepared, wet diapers cannot be worn all day without bursting out with sticky little gelatin globs. As much as it goes against my nature, I am now mostly, if awkwardly, Aware of Time. But this awareness is an anxious habit I'm longing to kick. (And I will, if I have to wait until the kids are in college.)

But I take breaks from this new regime. I lay quietly with the baby as she sleeps, I abandon the orderly charts, draw innumerable dinosaurs and volcanoes, read the same book five times in a row, lay on the floor whispering "ba! ba!" and, needs be, break out the cereal box. I am still occasionally late for church, and miss appointments. Because I am here, now. I am here.

{ p o e t r y  w e d n e s d a y }

1 comment:

Jenny said...

Love the poem, love the post!