I wanted to post something today and I began a story about an owl I saw this evening but no “story” emerged, just a snapshot appeared. I write:
I went for a short walk today, late in the afternoon but before evening. I walked across the field towards the little coulee that separates my space from a neighborhood and watched for the moon. I did not see it, this winter moon in its waning phase for the sky was cloudy and filtered its light, but as I stood there I heard a whoosh sound cutting the stillness. I looked up to see an owl in flight. It landed near where I stood in a tree – perched there and magnificent. I felt I didn’t belong there, this was his space, it is a place he had come to many times before when there were no people, no houses and concrete. He now seemed out of place and that made me sad. Later, as I was writing, I heard him outside of my window. By then it was nighttime and he was hooting. There is something mysterious about that sound. It seems foreboding and ominous.
That’s it, that’s as far as I got. I distracted myself from the owl and began rummaging around in my folders and I came across something I wrote last summer – I may have already posted it but, that’s okay, I post again because now, unlike then, I can answer some of the questions. I suppose if we just allow our lives to progress as they should, we can find answers, but that’s not what we typically do, we force things to happen – patience is a virtue. Anyway, here it is, perhaps, again.
I couldn’t sleep past 5 am this morning even though my bedtime last night approached midnight. It’s good though, I have wanted to see the summer sunrise and hear the silence in my house and I did this morning. There is something special about the beginning of a day – the feeling of aloneness, a place to connect with yourself before the rattle of the day distracts you and you become the chameleon once again. I can see myself more clearly and I can admit my fears and flaws and I can get to know me a bit better here in the very early morning when the world is somewhere in the distant and I am “alone” in it. I set goals for myself in the quietness of this morning, simple things like starting a canvas I have already created in my head and packing away the childhood memories in Matt and Drew’s room and then more difficult things like completing the unending book I began nearly a decade ago, a memoir about Miss Sue and another goal to untie a few more apron strings, to “let go” , to redefine my role as mom and view it more as a sideline “job” while , all the while, wearing my heart on the outside– this is tough after so many intense years of being in the middle of things but it’s rather restful also – less doing and more enjoying. This post is going nowhere…
It’s nearly noon now and I have some reoccurring thought in my head. It’s about change, lifestyle change. I can’t maintain the appetite of my youth – I have to let a few things go before I get weighted down with age and upkeep. I think I will begin with the garden. I have been gardening in one capacity or another since I was 15; Miss Sue taught and inspired me then. I have, by early June, semi abandoned mine and as I look at it I realize it is like a child and needs a lot of attention if it is to blossom and reach its potential. As I look within myself I realize I am not willing to give it the time it needs, at least not now. I have discovered this wonderful place to give me compensation, however, the local Farmer’s Market. I will limit my garden next spring to a square root box containing tomatoes bell peppers and eggplant and maybe cucumbers. Done.
I am still debating about my chickens at this point. I really do enjoy the fresh eggs and do not trust anything in the supermarket so perhaps I will scale down my flock from 18 to just 4. This will have to take its natural course of course, for I do not cull chickens. From this bucolic scale down I propose and post, I hope to unveil time – time to paint, write, and leave, just for small excursions probably to visit my nomadic kids.
Then there is the question of this house – this huge great old house where I raised my family – what do I do? What do we do – us who have rooted ourselves in memories and a place and now want more flexible time and less domestic work; it seems a choice between sentiment and pragmatism – who wins? It’s a great place to accommodate my large family but nearly each day of the year, after Elizabeth leaves, it will be an oversized space for just two people. I do not want to be its slave nor do I want it to be my money pit – I can think of so many other places to throw money, places that make a contribution to someone. I am not prepared to answer this nagging question just now, I think more needs to unravel before I know the answer. I will just pay mind to the contents at this point and try to lighten the interior load and perhaps one day soon, I will know what to do with the rest.
Ok.There you have a fair portion of a summer day’s rambling – questions posed, few answered. Exhausting, but it does help to write it down.
Here I am in Boulder, at the threshold of another chapter of my life; this one is going to be about adult children finding their way, a way without their parent’s “participation”. I could title it “I Got That Mom”. It’s good, it’s what I set out to do, raise them to be independent and to be courageous and creative enough to follow dreams, but it’s poignant; it’s hard to say goodbye to a role I cherished for 31 years.
The most arresting certainty that things in my life had changed happened at a very unlikely place; it occurred at a rest stop in the middle of the wheat fields of Kansas. My husband and I had been traveling for hours on Hwy. 70 and it was time to stretch our middle aged legs after miles and miles of “amber fields of grain”. We finally came upon an abbreviated sort of rest stop and pulled in. Right there at that moment I realized something was over – it hit me in the heart when I saw only my husband up ahead on the sidewalk – the kids weren’t there anymore but like a figment, I could so easily see the four boys with ball caps and abounding energy and Elizabeth garbed totally in pink with sunglasses and sandals trailing behind or holding one of her brother’s hand. It was there in my mind so vivid and clear and it was difficult admitting that “we will never pass that way again.” That wonderful part of my life as “mom” is over; the kids are gone.
I am happy about where all of them have gone and I am certainly enjoying the ease of travel but it amazes me how momentary times of your life are – they leave your reach so quickly it seems. Anyway, I am here in Boulder with the twins and they are having a wonderful experience and are writing the chapters of their own lives. I am now more of an onlooker and I think that in time, I will grow to love this more passive part I now have. I hope I have done my best and I look forward to reading each new chapter they write.
The “samples” entry was kind of curious but it was there for a reason – I needed to show these pieces to someone and for me, this was the easiest way. I have left the days of complicated and intense painting and have entered into a pleasant place of funky and fun art – as in these “samples”. Life is a journey.
The days are getting shorter here and my worries are getting longer
(sorry so cheesy); Elizabeth is driving! As many things in life, this event is two sided – one side gives me freedom and the other causes much apprehension. hmmmmm. I am getting better at letting go of these fears – realizing that I can’t stop life from doing its thing and that I will get through it because we have to. I will try to focus more on my freedom and less on the thought of her on the road – alone. Once, I wrote about how much I valued the time she and I spent in the car going from place to place , leaving supper on the stove to run to town for makeup, driving east 20 miles to a friend’s house or west 30 miles for “True Red” lipstick at Sephora – always inconvenient for me but always bonding for us. I was the one to pick her up from school and hear her day fresh off the presses, news that, otherwise, would have been absorbed in the first moments at home – moments gone that I would never have known about. The VW she is driving is where I introduced her to The Beatles and Dylan and she discovered how much she loved Lennon and asked tens of questions about that era that was my childhood – she learned as I relived. Well, here I am on the other side, now I will know much less about the days of this little girl. I will have my coveted “freedom”, but I will not have those intimate moments while driving her from place to place. My mom had such a handle of these transitions, these closing doors – she told me she was never sad about endings, instead she looked forward to the next chapters in our lives. I will take that with me as I close this door.