(I’ve been experimenting with microblogging as way to fit writing exercise into my almost-daily life. The following are a few, unrelated, paragraphs drafted in an effort to chase the elusive creative life from the cracks of parenthood…)
A DIET OF 200 WORDS PER DAY. I’m not sure I even know what blocky-form a congregation of such sentences look like. But let’s see where this goes. At the loss of a little sleep. At the expense of a rare and captured quiet moment normally spent in delicious silence reading the news. At the cost of a cuddle in bed with a lover with whom I have only spoken in the language of life management logistics for the last 24-hours. At the risk of arousing my toddler from his sleep with my *softest* typing. Knowing very well that before I reach 200 words, I might more likely hear, “Momma! It’s nice out there. Get me up momma. Momma?!” In motherhood, every moment is stolen. Every minute comes with an opportunity cost tag. If I’m typing, I might lose a minute in joint-investigation of the red-bearded woodpecker in the aspen tree out the window. If I’m joint-investigating, I’ll lose that fleeting minute I need to catch the tail of a novel thought barely glimpsed in the sunlight between the trees. And there is a sweet spot between the two: where my child discovers on his own without a want for (the waste of) adult commentary, and yet at the same time, witnesses the independent and creative life of his mother. Oh sweet spot. I have my eye on you. 228 words.
that very precious moment
THE BEST THING I EVER DID WAS TEACH MY CHILD TO LOOK AT THE SKY. Something about the clouded perspective of adulthood means I never catch him in the act of searching, but only take note when his arm is outstretched like an exclamation point across my omni-armed aim of accomplishing ten tasks at once, and he declares, “Momma. There’s the Moon right there.” And I stop. That very precious moment of stopping. The reason children humble us to better, smaller, more human beings. I drop all my busy, dumb thoughts and look at the sky. And there it is, often just the palest crescent, hanging delicately in a hazy horizon of blues and white. And I marvel that he’s found, and brought me to this moment. And say, “Why that IS the moon right there.”
SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL HAPPENS IN THE SPACE WHERE WORDS ARE LOST. I’ve noticed it myself, growing, in the pause between sentiments that just can’t be contained in a sentence. And last night, a minute after dabbing a little local anesthetic on a mouth sore that was keeping my child awake, he rubbed his eyes in exhaust and astonishment and said, “Momma? Ouchie flew away in the sky!” And isn’t that just how pain exits? Lofted on the downy wings of a strong breeze? Whisked away as inconceivably fast as it arrived? Has anything ever been said so well? A month ago, he was stung by a bee captured in his hand from the windowsill. And as the bee dizzily droned out the open sliding glass door, my child looked up at me and in the middle of his streaming tears said, “The bee is going back to work.” So, yes, I’m making a case that my 2-year old is a poet. But more, I’m realizing that our verbal limitations, real or feigned, force us back to the fertile grounds of what may have otherwise been overstepped. My 2-year old and I are on the same quest, exploring the space between words where we are similarly lacking in equipment, but treading precariously anyway. “Big jump!” he announces just in time for me to turn around and and see him leap from the bed to the floor. “Stomped it,” he quietly assesses with the ski-vocabulary he’s inherited from his Papa. How far can I leap without explaining myself, I wonder? It’s clear from his example, the further the distance, the more exhilarating the travels.