I had left my day job, and was looking forward to a summer schedule, but I also knew that writers need structure, and that I very much need structure, or nothing gets done. I was looking for a way around that, when I thought of the #52for52 thing.
I love writing so much when I’m doing it, but mostly I am sort of wandering through this new—pastime? vocation? career? I have no idea what to call it—like it’s a winding path in a forest. I don’t really know where it’s going, or even if I should be continuing, so I just keep walking, one step at a time. I figure that eventually I’ll know which way to turn, or that it’s best to turn back, or maybe even arrive somewhere new. It’s always possible, of course, that I’m just getting more lost, but if I don’t keep going, I’ll never really know. So I wander on.
Anyway, my artist friend Pat O’Brien has done this amazing thing where she is posting a painting a day every day for a year. (You can visit Pat at www.patriciaobrienart.com and follow her on Instagram @patriciaobrienart and,—not to be bossy—she is awesome and you definitely should). So I decided that I would commit to posting once a week this year, mostly because I was on that number thing around the time of my birthday—you remember—and there were the same number of weeks in a year as years in my life so far, so it seemed like a natural.
And then I went and gave it a hashtag and told everybody. And now, it’s only Week Four, for God’s sake, and it already seems like a terrible idea. It is also Thursday, which means I am running out of time.
Trouble is, I’ve been wonderfully busy with company, with my sister and her family here visiting, and a big family party to plan and throw. And just when I got the old-house issue that is the dining room floor that has been messed up for five years fixed—or, as is often the case in old houses, sort of fixed, as best it can be—the other old-house issue that has been troubling us mightily for only two years popped up again, just when we thought we were finally done with it, and it was so bad that I had to sit down on the couch and have a little cry to feel better.
But, as all moms know, when you’ve got nothing, you make do. You show up. You Mom up. You make something from nothing.
You declare loudly and with great ceremony to the hungry children that it is a Very Special Day! on which you will be serving Ants on a Log for lunch because secretly you have realized that you are out of bread. You make elaborate forts out of couch cushions and blankets because it is raining and the television is on the fritz and no one will take a nap and you are completely out of ideas. When the whole family is worried, or disappointed, you put aside your own worry and disappointment to expound, with an orator’s confidence, on gratitude for what we do have, because they are looking to you for guidance to the path out, and what else can you do? And maybe later, when you have a minute to yourself, you sit down on the couch and have a little cry to feel better.
Along those lines, I would like to let you know that today is a Very Special Day! on which I’m sharing three things that are true for me. (Don’t let on, but it’s all I’ve got in the house at the moment).
One. It’s a beautiful and clear, sunny day this morning, the kind that comes after a rain. Here in Maryland, when the heat and humidity get bad and stay bad, you can become convinced that the conditions that are causing you to sweat and suffer and make you so uncomfortable that you think you might never want to go outside again, much less do anything or see anyone, will never break, and instead you will. I can promise you that that will not happen. I always forget this. It is even more important to remember that this is also true of seasons that have nothing at all to do with weather.
Two. It is true, as you may have heard, that God will meet you wherever you are, even if that somewhere is on Facebook. I know this for a fact because the other day, I woke up early thinking about one of my kids, and something he’s been hoping for, something that we have long been calling his Hero’s Journey, because it has had all of the elements: the Call to Adventure, a long and arduous Road of Trials, and even some Supernatural Aid, right when we needed it. But I’m still not sure which way it’s going to go, and sometimes I get anxious about that, and start to say that childlike and crazy-making prayer that goes, “Please oh please oh please” when I know damn well that I should be saying the four-word prayer that never fails. I always forget this, too. But on this day, I was doing the “please oh please oh please” prayer, in a loop while I made the coffee, and then while I waited for the coffee, I signed on to Facebook. And right there on Facebook was not God, mind you, but close: there was Anne Lamott, saying the following, which I recognized immediately as truth, albeit another that I always forget. “You cannot run along your adult children with sunscreen and ChapStick on their hero’s journey. You have to release them.” She actually said the hero’s journey part. Word. Who knew that God would find you even if you spend entirely too much time on Facebook? And also, does anyone know where I can donate four lifetime supplies of sunscreen and ChapStick?
Three. And finally, sometimes, you promise to do something with the very best of intentions: maybe it is a nice thing you want to do for someone, or a project you would like to try, or a new practice you are trying to incorporate, and maybe if it is the last one, you tell everyone so that you won’t chicken out. Maybe you are hoping this thing will make you a little bit closer to the person or mother or writer that you want to be, but when the time comes, you still feel like the same old you; it doesn’t feel like you have much to offer. And when that happens, all you can do is be brave enough to keep your promise and show up— even though you feel that way, even though it now feels like a poorly-thought-out commitment which has been marinating in not-enoughness—and just say what’s true for you. It might not be the basket of food and flowers you’d imagined, or an A+ in the class you enrolled in, and I think we can all agree that it will definitely not be enough for the greatest blog post ever, but it will at least be you, showing up. On some level, that is always enough. I always forget this, too.
Even if you, like me, have run out of peanut butter or ideas or courage or stuff to write about, and are instead long on apparently-unneeded sunscreen and ChapStick, we can still declare this a Very Special Day!
And maybe, if we do it loudly and with great ceremony, we can Mom ourselves into believing it, too.