I love my children & I'm shocked by how often I want them to leave me alone.

A partial list of questions I ask myself regularly/consciously/subconsciously:

  • Do I love my children enough
  • Do my children love me
  • Do I love my children as much as other mothers appear to love their children
  • Do I dedicate enough time to them
  • Do I let them be themselves
  • Do I help or hinder their development
  • Are they OK
  • Are they going to be OK
  • Do they resent me
  • Do they know what resentment is yet
  • Am I paying attention
  • Am I a good mother
  • Am I a bad mother
  • How will they remember me
  • Do they understand what I "do"
  • Will I write all the books I want to write
  • Can writing & motherhood intersect in a way that isn't devastating
  • Are they stimulated enough
  • Are they too stimulated
  • Will they remember their childhoods fondly
  • Do they believe in God
  • Have I enjoyed them today
  • Are they helpers
  • Are they resilient
  • Are they happy
  • Are they close
  • Will they grow closer
  • Am I being fair to them
  • Do I treat them equally
  • Are they in a good school
  • Do they have good friends
  • Are they good friends to others
  • Am I doing my part to raise decent, socially responsible humans
  • Am I doing enough to teach them about cruelty without scaring them
  • Am I scaring them appropriately
  • Do I scare them
  • Are there things I don't know about them
  • Do I demand too much
  • Am I too pushy/controlling/stern/overbearing
  • Would my mother and grandmother approve of my choices
  • Is it possible to teach empathy
  • Am I modeling empathy
  • Did I do my best today
At the Harvard Museum of Natural History, late March 2017

At the Harvard Museum of Natural History, late March 2017

Pain Management

There's a lot of pain in my life right now but surprisingly I feel OK. I have physical pain in my lower back that has been there for a very long time and that I've come to accept as part of me, part of my actual body, and not some oppressive machinery operating outside of/atop it. I don't know if accepting the pain has made the pain better or worse. Some days the pain is more intense than others. For close to a year I emptied my wallet and a good chunk of my time at the chiropractor's. I was promised that I would be pain-free if I followed his "care plan." I'm 39 and I somehow still believe people when they make promises where money is involved. I stopped going to the chiropractor and started exercising more rigorously and with more "intentionality" aimed at my back, building up core muscles and stretching, occasionally doing yoga, along with stuff that gets my heart rate up, which reduces my anxiety and the sharpness of my emotional pain. I'm lucky to work from home in this regard. I can easily fit my exercise in after I take the kids to school. When I'm home, I'm working, but I have a timer that reminds me to get up and move every 30 minutes. I also walk the dog (lol/fml).

This is how pathetic we look when we're online

This is how pathetic we look when we're online

In nearly all ways, stasis = death. Not progressing/advancing/evolving in one's thinking leads to the death of the mind and spirit. Not moving/sweating/exerting one's self leads to toxicity within the body. And when my mind is stuck, it helps to unstick my body. 

I also bought myself my first desk chair, which isn't anything spectacular, but is at least an actual chair meant for sitting at a desk, and not some whimsical decorative thing I picked up at a thrift store. I think it has helped. Sometimes I put a tennis ball against the wall and lean my lower back into it and sort of roll it around--this offers a lot of relief. Sometimes I lay on the floor with my legs up on a chair and read for 15 minutes. Feel free to use any of these tricks.

The state of the world brings me pain, should bring any sentient person pain. I don't feel like writing any more about that right now, but I'm sickened by this administration and its criminal actions. I have to read the news, but it's tough for me to do so and then resume "normal," productive activity. I've experienced a certain blockage since November's election, and I know many other writers have, too.

When I'm not writing regularly, I feel pain, pain manifested as anxiety, self-doubt, and depression. I combat these outcomes via distraction, which I foolishly used to trivialize as something inauthentic and immature, but I now know is a powerful weapon against many modes of pain. Distraction can take infinite forms. Like stubbing your toe when you have a migraine. Like watching bad TV if that's what you need to do to feel OK. Cleaning your house. Folding some laundry. Praying if that's your thing. Eating some candy. And my late grandmother's favorite: helping someone else. Even just texting someone to ask: how are you? If that friend is in pain, take some of hers, too. Sometimes other people's pain halts our own, even if just temporarily. Sometimes we learn what we need to do when we offer someone else advice. There is no judge or jury when it comes to distraction. It is teleologic and it is yours alone.

My mom is sick, which pains me in an immediate, instinctual way, but also, I suspect, in ways I haven't fully discerned yet. The whole of our relationship glints in the garish light of her leukemia, a now sixteen-year illness that, while constant, has shape-shifted a hundred times, keeping us guessing, hopeful, relieved, in anguish. To say nothing of how it has kept her and keeps her still. Being a mother to daughters is a strange reverse-mirror, and on both sides, I worry about how I'm doing.