Sunday, May 02, 2010


I've been thinking about grit recently.

Sometimes we are quicksand-stuck in grit and can see nothing else. Other times, most times, grit is underlying. It moves with us, plays in the background, rises up when we're quiet. The grit complicates our smooth shiny moments, makes us sedimentary rock -- nothing single-layered, but stacked with grit.

There's the grit of hoping for something, of waiting, of disappointment or excitement, the grit of fleeting time, of heart break or utter loss, the grit of intrigue and possibility, our own fear and uncertain footing.

I've heard this generation of parents referred to as "living in the age of anxiety," primarily because of all of the information at our fingertips, all of the choices. I feel that even in little tasks like grocery shopping. The other day I went to buy Silas and Eden a multi-vitamin and some Omega 3's, and I literally ended up sitting on the floor looking up 6 feet of shelves trying to decide which bottle to buy. Same thing in the cereal aisle, the breads -- how much fiber, how much protein, high fructose corn syrup? on and on. The simple choices have become exhausting.

Yesterday I taught on art journal workshop on grit, and we did free-writes (prompted stream-of-consciousness writing) to get started. Though mine is choppy and fragmented, it outs a lot of the grit I feel at my gut every day as I mother:

If I could tell you about my grit I'd say it's underground, a low growling current, a sigh as I push back my chair, as I close my eyes in the dark.

Failing -- the word that accuses all day long.
Helplessness -- unsure of how to respond to the tantrums, posturing, sass, what to say, how to say it, how to bite my anger, to teach, parent, instruct.
My grit is in accusations.
And in wanting. The want for the impossible: more time, more hours, more silence, more regrouping, more purpose, more creative responses.

I don't want to miss this -- time is rushing, pain and pressure of brevity. They are changing -- even their faces, their legs, their hands, their voices, the shapes of the words in their mouths. I don't want to miss this. These years I'm trying to wedge in ways to meet my own needs, am longing for my own time and space; but soon they will be their own spheres of existence orbiting their own bright suns (and I will be longing for them).

I'm not so sure of myself underneath this face -- the ground trembling, my shoes melting on the rocks.

What's beneath all this is the desire to do it well --
it = mother, love, apologize, laugh enough, absorb, stay present.

CC said I put a lot of pressure on myself -- maybe we all do -- but isn't that good, having expectations? Or am I pressing myself with a giant mechanical thumb, into the ground...

What I really don't want to say is that I'm fearful, teetering on the edge of doubting every fiber.

If there were a door it wouldn't be small like Alice's or locked without windows. If there were a door it would be cracked; there would be light; and I think I'd go in. That's what I'd like to think.


amy said...

I've been reading your blog in reader recently and have not been to your actual blog-until today. Love the new look, especially the pic of you and the kids :)

Kelly said...

i love this poem, so beautiful, fluid, and accurate of how many of us mothers feel. thanks for sharing