Dennisport, MA, Saturday:
I’m on the Cape, in the charming little house we rented for a few days. The kids and I came down Thursday morning, Clay joined us Friday afternoon, and now on Saturday afternoon they’ve left me for a little “Mom retreat.” The house feels so empty… I can’t believe there is really no one but me here. Now that we have Gus, I’m never, never truly alone. I keep looking for someone to check on… listening for the jingle of the dog tags or the pat-pat-pat of little feet walking across the upstairs bedroom after nap.
It’s supposed to be sunny and bright today. The online forecast is still insisting that it’s sunny here, but it is actually an overcast sixty degrees (if that). I wonder if they have driven out of the clouds an into the sunshine. I have an insane desire to jump in the car and follow them, saying, “Wait! I didn’t mean it! I don’t ever need rest or sleep or refreshment, just so long as I can be near you guys.” Suddenly it seems perfectly natural that I should wake up at least once in the middle of the night to someone calling “Mommy!”, and that I should be up at 5:20 to either walk the dog or to crossly insist that he lay down on his bed (only to have him jump up and follow me as soon as I try to go back to bed). I find myself, even now in the rental house, washing sheets and swiffering up dog hair– and I don’t really mind all that much. In a flash of insight I realize that, yes, that’s not just what I do, that’s who I am. And though in some moments it’s my worst fear to ‘just’ be the mom/housekeeper/driver/cook, right now it feels like that is actually my dream job.
This is the paradox of a modern mother’s life. We’re educated, trained, encouraged to be ambitious– and thank God for all of that. And yet for all of history we have been the nurturers and caretakers. I think– for women, anyway– the consequences of living in our world of opportunity are that we always feel we haven’t begun to live up to what we want to do. If you know how to make a permanent peace with that idea… write a book and make a million dollars! For me it’s a matter of peaceful stretches punctuated by periods of hyperventilating inadequacy.
Back to the retreat– a few days later, as I abandoned the blog to be sure I would do some of the other kind of writing (the fiction I was actually there to write). One thing I loved, loved, loved about the getaway was the lack of “stuff” around me. If you know how to make your home as empty as a vacation cottage (while still being able to function in day-to-day life– you know, paying bills and returning school forms on time)… write a book and make another million dollars! It was so restful to get away from my projects and piles! Here are some snapshots of the quiet, uncluttered spaces. Such a modest little place, and nothing particularly special about any one feature or any of its furnishings– it was all just simple, attractive, functional, harmonious. Reminds me of the William Morris advice to ‘have nothing in your home which you do not think to be beautiful or know to be useful.’ How have I forgotten that for so long? And how do I groom back to that notion? Again, if you know how… WRITE A BOOK! Or better yet, hire me to write the book for a small cut of your million dollars!
Better sign off now. My venti iced Americano is dry, and my little boy is waiting for me to come snuggle him down to nap. Hope you are enjoying warm sunshine and a cold drink, wherever you may be, my friends!