Monday, June 14, 2010

Mother of the world

Ahhh mindless summer. An endless stream of propelling from one activity to the next event, camp drop-off, wedding or graduation. Navigating sibling disputes, enforcing summer rules and chores and foregoing a regular spiritual practice in between.

I used to jokingly ask: "Who died and crowned me the mother of the world." Sadly, at times, it doesn't seem like a jest. I enjoy raising my girls and the unexpected gifts of getting to be a kid again, seeing growing up through different eyes, loving in a new and unconditional way, sometimes being an authority on something and the contentment of when we're all together.

I wouldn't change a thing. Except, maybe myself. And that blasted responsibility function stuck in the on position in my brain. I do have my moments of relaxing it. You'd think summer was one of them. However, it's the season in which I have the least time and space to re-charge as we introverts need to alone. ALONE.

That concept intimidates some. Not me. I live for those stolen moments in summer. And when I am anxious and salivating until the opportunity comes along, I remind myself that I have the choice of aloneness. One I can create. While I live with constant companionship,  I can take a periodic or regular leave almost anytime. If I lived alone, it would be different. Aloneness would be the rule, not the exception.

That's a concept I first encountered a little over a year ago when I spent a week solo in Italy. At midnight on day 3 in Florence – God knows what time it was at home – I texted my best friend "And why did I think I was an introvert?" It had been a grueling few days with only fleeting conversation as my Italian was limited. And I like to connect deeply. "One bus ticket please, Thank you, Hello" and "Where do I get off?" don't exactly cultivate friendships no matter how fleeting. I managed to befriend two German women, dusting off the six years of Deutsch I'd taken long, long ago. And, the morning I was leaving, encountered a German male at my breakfast table (finally the jetlag subsided and I awoke early enough to actually meet a few more people ... funny that early it was ALL men in the convent dining room -- if I'd have known ...), who, it happened, roomed next to me and asked if I wanted to meet him at a church concert that afternoon. He said he hadn't met anyone all week. The window next to mine and the door beside mine contained another lonely soul. If only I'd have knocked when I thought about it.

As I was journaling on some of those isolated Italian nights, I wondered what relevance an experience has if not shared. An odd thought, but one that won't leave me.

So as I shuttle kids, schedule camps, attempt to remedy boredness, put my work on pseudo hold and ache for studio time, I remember that I can leave anytime. And practice gratitude for the company.

I can refrain from the duty of all-doing matriarch, just be mom and remember to mother my inner self. Life would be less rich, dull and lifeless without the permanent companionship. Yet I long for that occasionally.

• When is my busy season?
• How do I recharge then?
• How can I navigate any inclination to take on responsibility that is not mine?
• What's it felt like to be lonely?
• How has that shaped my perspective on being with others?

I'm bored.
What's around to eat?
What is there to do?
It's her fault!
Mom, stop her.
Can you take me to the ...?

endless requests
out of
little mouths

at least that's
what I have
to remind

do not
intend to
steal my

the space
I need
to decompress

it is
who can

can walk
the hubbub

and also


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