Monday, October 21, 2013

Mothering and Loneliness

This is a writing from a student a few weeks ago. I love her process of at first grounding herself in where she is - a garden in early autumn - then heading into dread about winter. Then, she really goes inside the fear, exploring what it is really about - motherhood.

Natalie Goldberg says in her latest book True Secret of Writing that weather is never a surface level thing. It is real. It is grounding. You can connect very deeply just by talking about weather, especially if youlet it open up to what is going on underneath, as Maggie did here.

Write your season right now. Go outside and write, even if it means long underwear and gloves. Write what is there, out there and inside you, then see what is inside even that.

Go Outside (prompt)

A Paradoxical Season (working title)

Written by Maggie Fitzsimmons

A sweet, cool breeze graces my cheek as I sit in this secret garden of a yard beneath

a maple tree. It was such a lovely, warm day today that I sat in the backyard in the

early afternoon, soaking up the sunshine at a time that would usually be too hot to

sit there comfortably. It’s almost hard to enjoy these last warm days with the sense

of foreboding I feel about the impending arrival of winter. Fall is such a complicated

time in that way – a paradoxical season really – full of vibrant colors and pleasantly

cool days with crisp air and warm sunshine, but also a reminder that it will soon be

winter. And it will no longer be pleasant to be outside, at least unburdened by many

layers of clothing. Sigh…

I don’t always hate winter, but I hate the thought of it right now. I don’t want to

give up the freedom that comes along with going outside, the social contact that can

happen by chance.

Sometimes being a mom is a terribly isolating experience.

But more so in winter than any other time, because no one lingers outside longer

than absolutely necessary. There are no chance play dates at the park or friendly

encounters with neighbors working in their yards or gardens.

I think I feel a sense of impending doom about this coming winter, actually, given

how hard it was last year with a baby. How lonely.

But it’s funny, isn’t it, that I feel lonely when I am never alone? NEVER. That last

word was underlined and capitalized, in case you didn’t notice.

I love my baby boy dearly, but really, why is it that when I sit down on the toilet

(for example) that he needs me suddenly, urgently?! Seriously, this happens almost

without fail. I sit down on the toilet and even if moments ago he was happily

looking at a book in the other room by himself, somehow he KNOWS that I’ve just

sat down on the toilet and he has an urgent need for me, to nurse usually. This is

a fascinating phenomenon in my household and if it is in others as well then we

should be dedicating some serious energy and resources to exploring its cause.

I like to joke that Mattie has a strong sense of “the force” and that when any subtle

change takes place in the connection between us, he notices. I think this is somehow

related to the causation of the bathroom phenomenon, but I’m not sure.

At least I can laugh about it. Just one of the many hysterical mysteries of


I know that I am not truly alone in my experience. That there are many, many,

MANY other women are home with their children, feeling lonely, and yet never

having a moment alone. That those same women are experiencing moments of

bliss and joy, and also moments of frustration, exasperation, sadness, even anger –

in varying proportions on any given day. When I have the awareness to remember

this, it helps so much.

This contact with all the other women – who have done it before me, who are

living through it now with me – is a huge part of what gets me through the difficult

moments of each day. It is a felt sense of connection…linked through an invisible

thread that travels through time and space. It is similar to the thread that connects

us to our children, I imagine – whether they are far away, or in the other room, only

moments from needing us desperately.

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