Follow the link to read, It’s the Yard that Makes our House a Home.
I am growing accustomed to an annual end-of-the-summer episode of the blues. I am wallowing in this place now, grieving the passage of time. Mourning the loss of the summer’s long days when I read and write and giggle with my children. All this and the summer isn’t even over yet.
No stranger to anxiety and depression I create strategies to lift my spirit. I will manage my sleep patterns and avoid alcohol. I will schedule time each day for that which feeds me: meditation, writing. I will stop checking my email first thing in the morning. I will read more in the evenings and watch less stupid T.V. Just making this plan makes me feel better.
These steps to avoid a downward spiral feel healthy. It’s never good to get psychologically stuck. But part of me is wondering if my desire to avoid the darkness is a desire to avoid life itself.
Into my wondering a new book arrives; a book of poetry by a rabbi I recently met. In Waiting to Unfold, Rachel Barenblat has written a poem each week of her son’s first year of life. I got wrapped up in this book immediately. Barenblat’s writing is clear and honest, returning me poem by poem to the first year of my son’s life. I appreciate how she captures the beauty of her first moments as a mother. I appreciate more how she captures the pain, the exhaustion, the post-partum depression. Each week’s poem is new; a multidimensional, complicated mix of awe, joy, exhaustion, grief, amazement, mystery and change. Barenblat’s ability to convey the undulating highs and lows, emotional chaos, and heightened nature of new life makes for one great year of poetry.
Out of Barenblat’s dark moments poetry was birthed—poetry that spoke to, resonated with, and held deep meaning for this reader. So even though there are experiences of life that I am impatient to see pass—like this time, here, at the end of the summer—and experiences of life that I want to linger—like sneaking into my children’s bedrooms at night to risk waking them with too many kisses—all of life, all experience holds potential and promise. So perhaps I need to simply hold each moment, like a newborn baby holds bottle or breast, and drink deeply of all life offers.
[Feature Image: David Precious]
My husband was the first to disturb Her. He loped around the house, snored in great huffs at night, captured me in conversation at the dinner table. As my marriage unfolded, She sulked in the corner of my life, moody and listless, still catching snatches of time over a morning cup of coffee or after he had gone to bed. She and I used to dance all the time, bodies pressed together in ecstasy, the feel of her made my mind explode with ideas, dreams, fantasy places. I could go anywhere in her hush.
When my first child was pulled, wet and bloody, from the womb She looked on in horror. After the mucus was sucked from his mouth and nose he screamed and She walked out. I’d look for her, late at night, as I woke every few hours to put the baby to my breast. I’d listen for her in the wind of the trees as my husband and I pushed the stroller around the cul-de-sac. But the reality of my life kept her away.
My second child stayed in my womb as long as she could, refusing to come (as she still does) when the doctor called. Perhaps she sensed the noise of my life and preferred to dance with her Quiet in the security of my womb. So they put me to sleep, a mask over my nose and mouth, a needle in my spine, and I drifted away. I dreamed I was with Quiet again, sitting on the porch as the sun went down, watching the sky turn orange, blush rose, blue, and then black. We snacked on almond slivers, the crunch between my teeth the only sound breaking our reverie. Slipping between the cool sheets of the bed, my legs kick out wide, glorifying in the freedom of all that space.
When I awoke, another mouth to feed lay swaddled in her crib beside my bed. I leaned forward to catch a glimpse of baby girl, my stomach shrieking in protest. Her eyes bobbed beneath her closed eyelids and the tiny holes in her nose widened with each breath. She sucked on her lower lip as if chewing on a good dream. I imagined she was dreaming of the Quiet she knew once too. Filled with new love I whispered over her head, “Don’t worry, baby girl, you’ll find Her again one day.”
I lay back down to contemplate the noise of my now-crowded life. I couldn’t ask for more, yet I wanted less. I was fully alive, yet dead tired.
I would learn to dance with the riches of my new life. I would come to treasure the cacophony of giggles that filled my house. I would never live in regret. But Quiet is my home, my peace, my muse. I shall stalk Her like a madman. I shall pursue Her like the one lost sheep. I shall fret over Her like the mother whose baby has wandered away. And I will find Her…as we all do…in the end.