Last week I had to force myself outdoors. I had allowed myself to grow accustomed to the inertia that endless days of rain bring. I had forgotten how to properly acknowledge the sun- to get outside and bask in it. But, when I took The Baby out for a walk, the wind pressed relentlessly against us- strangling the trees and shaking them of the last leaves determined to hang on. It nearly lifted The Baby's stroller from my grip. I did not quite have the perspective to embrace the challenge of facing the gusts. It had been a trying couple of weeks. I had to make a critical decision regarding Henry's education which led to transferring him from his position in one of the most highly coveted academic programs in our city to a program of less fame but of much greater nuturance. I hoped that with the change, he would learn to smile again. I was already wound so tightly- worried over my child's well-being. I had beaten up my heart, my head, my chest in trying to defend my decision to choose in the best interests of my son over choosing to keep him in an elite program. It had consumed me. I needed justification to allow myself to also be battered by the wind.
I almost turned home as soon as we made it to the end of our street; but, I remembered the sticks Princess Commando wanted to collect to complete her longhouse project. The Baby was not befuddled by the gales which sucked her breath away. She was only concerned with following the moon which floated in a clear morning sky. So, I grudgingly continued onward, bending every few feet to pinch a brittle branch from the sidewalk. I filled the basket of the buggy with discarded frail limbs; but, it felt like it would never be enough. How many branches are needed to make a longhouse? I was propelled with the most overcoming heat and desire to scour the whole neighborhood for every last felled sprig. I imagined the mound of black and grey twigs I could build in my driveway. As I walked on, the wind spoke to me in bitter currents. It gave names to my nerves: school, expectation, doubt, achievement, worth, perception. Each one, a twig I harbored in my basket. I decided that my basket was full enough. It was time to leave some of them behind.
It comes with the change of seasons- this longing for closure before the shift occurs, before we are no longer in a state of transition and become settled into the reality of the season. There is a need to reconcile plans left by the side of the road- a piano still out of tune; stairs still crumbling and vulnerable to the abuse that winter brings; personal growth which is not as expansive as I had wished for in my January resolutions. Along with taking inventory of my children's winter boots, coats, hats- those items which we still need to acquire before the snow falls, I inevitably take inventory of the strengths and resources I need to replenish within myself before I head toward winter-toward a new year. That, invariably leads to a feeling of being unsettled- of questioning my decisions, my purpose, and, once again, my place. Upon catching up with one of my favorite people, my Uncle Mark, on his recent visit home, he asked me who I was, "Are you Amy,' the mother of four children'? Or, are you Amy, a woman with interests, talents, goals and needs who just so happens to have four children?" I had never really considered that there could be a distinction. And it made me realize how easy it is to become one dimensional- with one purpose: caring for the needs of one's children. Caring so much so- that it absorbs you fully until there isn't any room left for anything else. But, I am not sure I truly understand how to be the other version of myself. That requires a level of balance which scares me. How is it that it has become easier to sacrifice everything- rather than to try to hold back bits and pieces for myself?
I'm coming to understand that filling up a basket with prickly regret and doubt and trying to re-purpose the pieces only perpetuates stagnancy. I know that I need to challenge myself outside of my comfort zone- set fire to that mound of twigs I have collected. I have to walk into the wind and let it rattle every last leaf off of me in order to feel that steady IV drip of creativity that I need to carry me through the winter. I have to learn to stop looking down at the sidewalk and instead do as The Baby does by choosing to follow the moon- accepting the expanse of sky before her without fear of getting lost in it.