So where the hell have I been, anyway?
I've been running. A lot, consistently. I've been running for several years now but only recently have I begun to take it seriously: doing tempo runs, interval training, long, meandering, meditative Sunday runs. God, I love the Sunday runs--the 7 or 8 or 10 miles up and down St. Charles Avenue, as the street car clangs past and people stumble by with their dogs and mugs of coffee and the church bells ring and the world seems new. It's beautiful and exhausting and I look forward to it, without fail, every week. So that's good.
I've been struggling. Of course--what parent worth his or her salt doesn't struggle? The evenings are particularly hard. I leave work and pick up my kids and we come home and I start dinner and they both need so much. They need me, more than anything--my presence, my attention, my affection, my lap. I strongly suspect that if I made the mistake of lying down on the floor on a weekday evening that they would swarm and literally devour me, bit by bit. So I try not to put myself in that position; I try to stay busy, to distract, to entertain, to structure, but eventually I give in to my urge to just enjoy my children and fuck--I lay down on the floor. They swarm. They devour. I tickle and poke. They giggle. I laugh. They laugh harder and swarm closer. It's uncomfortable but wonderful and I give myself over to it, the painful parts and the beautiful parts;I let them swarm, I let them nibble; I give and give until they run out of steam and then I send them off to bed and sit and think about everything I could have done differently, and better.
During a long-ish run the other day a song came on my i-Pod mix that I had not heard--or maybe I'd heard but not paid attention to--in quite a while. If you like Tori Amos, you might remember these lyrics that caught my ear:
I know a cat named Easter,
he says Will you ever learn?
You're just an empty cage, girl
If you kill the bird...
2 years ago, not long after I started this blog, I wrote a post about gathering and scattering, how I felt as though motherhood had relegated me to the latter occupation. I remember that time, how I felt both immensely content and intensely sad, and how confusing it was. I think I understand it better now; I understand that motherhood involves both an evolution and a loss of Self, that it requires both selflessness and self-awareness, self-sacrifice and self-care. So where is my Self in all of this?