when we are weak
When we are weak, we are
strong. When our eyes close
on the world, then somewhere
within us the bush
burns. When we are poor
and aware of the inadequacy
of our table, it is to that
uninvited the guest comes.
By R.S. Thomas
* * *
This morning has been like many recently: disjointed. I have to remind myself that my children are too small to find any rhythm or phase that could be expected to last for very long. Things might feel settled for a time. Then they hit a different phase and are once again unsettled and the minutes of the day pass in a disjointed and clumsy fashion before everyone adjusts to a new pattern of relative predictability. I can only hope that a newer and smoother pattern will emerge again soon.
Because I can tell that right now I am in a season of anti-pattern with my children. The youngest is finally, at long last, dropping her morning nap. Only, the word “dropping” does not depict the situation adequately. She could be said to be dangling her morning nap on a string. She throws it out sometimes but other days seems to think better of it and pulls it back, keeping me in suspense about whether or not she is going to cross the line into a hysterically tired state at any point in the morning.
But that is only one example of the forces of chaos at work upon the average day. There are dozens of these kinds of things going on at the same time between the two of them–shifting and disparate needs. I might also mention that I feel like a human snack and drink dispenser, given the frequency that snacks and drinks are requested between the two of them.
I wonder if there is such a thing as hard lefts or hard rights with children, or, for that matter, anything that could be described as “efficient.” The corners that they turn are long arcs that take a while to straighten back out again. Sometimes I feel as if I am sitting in a car, being pulled sideways and just waiting for the pull of the vehicle to abate so that I can resume a normal posture in the back seat. Then I might be able to take up a hobby or something.
Another aspect of imbalance lately is that my four year-old is always just a little too happy and my one and a half year old never seems quite happy enough. I cannot seem to take five steps in any direction in our apartment without hearing a cry of discontent from Elsa for some reason or another. Meanwhile, the effervescence of my four year-old is bubbling up to the ceiling and pushing me against the wall until I am squeezed to the point that I might implode.
All summer I have had the luxury of a pressure relief valve. By that I mean the front door. When either one of them becomes too much, I can open it and send the human cyclones outside to our fenced in playground, which seems to fix everything. My four year-old’s energy can bubble to its farthest end and never reach the domed ceiling of the blue sky overhead. My one and a half year-old is always instantly distracted from whatever is ailing her as soon as there are no walls within sight.
But I know that very soon the same playground will be as hard as ice, the domed sky will be the color of zinc, and our apartment will feel like the sealed quarters of a submarine. I am not certain what I am going to do when October is over. I am venturing into the realms of new questions, like whether or not being home with children is actually the right thing–the best thing– for me, or for them. I am finding it good for me right now to start thinking in different directions and different possibilities, and realize that this– my current situation as it stands– is by no means a closed case. I am beginning to poke around at other possibilities. In any case, just for today, I am here. This is my job, however inadequate it makes me feel at any given moment. I like this poem by R.S. Thomas. It makes me think that there could be a burning bush somewhere in all of this, or a special guest coming to my table. I need that.
We ended up having a nice day today, mainly because we all went outside and enjoyed the beautiful fall weather (what can I say?). But later, after dinner, Esme and I made this drawing together (see above photo), with me imitating her on the opposite page, per her careful instructions. The drawing is of “disguises,” with “stripes and stingers” on them and eyes, but no mouths because they do not have mouths. I have no idea what inspired such a drawing, but it was good to get down on the floor with markers and paper and to give her an excuse to boss me around for a little while.