Tag Archives: parenting

yen and yang, my daughters

26 Dec

chloe eden nyc dinosaur

 If you get too close to the mirror, your eyes will cross.

Of course I KNOW my girls, but somehow, separation helps me to actually see them.

And I see myself.

Things that come in packages of two often express polarity.  Daughter duality  is part of my learning.  They each reflect opposites in their ways of thinking, expressing, hurting, overcoming….basically existing in ways that directly reflect me as well.  I can see the strengths and flaws I contain within my being playing out in the reflection of these two girls.  What a show, what a combustable concoction, what a well-written play!

I see the slot-machine lever pulls in the traits of their genetic, environmental, personal choices…a playing out of variety, contrast, expanse.    Where one is extroverted, the other is introverted.  Where one intuits, the other logics it out.  Where one seems to absorb information through the ethers, the other has to read the chapter and memorize it word for word.  Where one wants to judge, the other wants to allow.  One, indoor, one outdoor.  One science, one art.  Of course, they do not exist in a vacuum of one thing and not the other, or in a snapshot that never changes, but they do seem to have tendencies that swing into opposites whenever possible.

They also reflect to me the truth of connection and separation that this life allows us, if we are willing to do the work of it.  I force me to see where I understand and where I do not.

This teaching is impossible to put into words.  It is as intense as I can ever imagine in both fun and pain.  I cannot ever walk away.  I am here for the long haul and in knowing the safety of my presence, they  let it all fly – they  unleash – and thus I am granted the fiery, fierce eternal mirror of my own truth in a way that is way beyond a partnering relationship which is based on sharing the journey but with a freedom to leave.  

Wow.  Cannot leave.  I have to look them and myself in the face.  Parent is much the same as committing to live a life in this body.  Barring extreme action – we are here – we must live our lives.   What a gift they have given to me on a deep soul level – this walking to adulthood with my kindred, these girls, by choice to begin with, then by force.

By next year, this whole dynamic will be shifting as one goes to college, and the other stays home for a bit longer.  What seems unbearable now, will no longer be pressing by next year.  The frustration of differences will be become an attractor, I imagine, by the heart softening of distance.

I miss their noise, their mess, their complexities, their joys, and even their suffering this week – but goodness, a little time alone is so very good.

How’s this for contrast :0


29 Oct

I am just letting the words fly with misspellings, lower case errors, run-on sentences, all sorts of mess.  I am not  a finished product, but one feeling her way along the path.  There is a tendency to only write in a I’ve figure this out sort of way for me at times, but what i find more interesting is what each moment may look like.  Here I am standing in a certain spot while taking steps, full of questions.  I am not pressed against the wall of decision making – I am staring back at my own naked face in the mirror of this rectangle wordpress box.

no face

change is in the air.  We go from hot to cooler, overhead to slanting sunlight and I project this shift to my own shifting seasons, as a mother, as a person.  i’ve known no other way to be than a mother who merged with my children – not in a controlling way but in a borderless existence of OURS, not mine.  My room has been open all this time;  My clothes, my shoes, my jewelry, my bed, my skin, my nutrients,  all fair game.  My girls psychically curl up inside me even still;  it seems to me as if they remember the start of their journeys here inside my  body.  They push on me the way they push against themselves.  They look into my face, my words, my silences to reflect their existence.  And yet I can sense the change of seasons; as the morning light recedes,  they too are moving into their self-contained vessels; they move into darkness all their own, an inner seeding, toward a winter before a dawning of light and sprouting come spring.

as this season moves closer still , and these beings transcend each stage, my space is being returned  to me in micro increments, almost indiscernibly so until I stop and see where I am now compared to a year ago and a year before that – a sky as large as montana is brimming if I squint.  Here it comes but i do not know how to repurpose for this planet at this age in this body with this lowgrade fever of ambivalence I seem to stew myself in.  the joys i experience alone are so simple, so strange, so lonely – while I crave no one.  I wonder if i can sustain myself as a lone, wondering weirdo.   Have you seen any job ads for Lone Wandering Wondering Weirdo?  My resume reads:  I will walk in nature, clearing my mind, for the rest of humanity for a modest income.  🙂

i fantacize about walks in dense and hidden woods, chilly beaches, rocky cliffs.  I march into brambles and sticker bush zones for the novelty and for the solitary nature spots such as these provide.    I enjoy my interaction with strangers more than I do acquaintances.  the smile at the car repair shop or with the bag boy seem more poignant than with people I am supposed to know.  I do not fit any molded role anymore.  I am my own path and it is solo.  it seems to me that taking this solo path is always the path of eccentricity.  I no longer can rein in the outlying of my personality.     I have no role model, no clear expectation of what happens next.

My 5 year plan is to listen to the rain when it starts falling, to stop what I am doing and try to hear  who is talking to me, to welcome the visitor who appears in the costume of cat, tree branch trimmer, package delivery door bell.  The life as a stage art is  A Happening, a flow of unpredictability.  I am not intending anything but flow – I allow a softening of myself like Pooh bear – I hang my hat up on the simple rack – I sign up for the back seat  and trust the scriptwriter for the rest. And yet I still ask,  is this wrong?  Should I map it out, chart my course,  steer my ship?  Where does the balance lie between flow and directioning?

Charleston rivers are full of abandoned boats, pulled off their moors and washed up on the marshy shores; some of them have sunken to the bottom of channels, leaving danger for boats passing by.  Some have washed up together and form a jumble of wreck and loss for all to see.  I once kayaked over to a graveyard of boats and listened to the eerie creaking the wind and water played through abandonment.

Is emptying myself out of steering my own vessel the same as choosing to wash ashore?  Am I not taking responsibility for my journey?  Do I need to plan and trust both?  Or do I trust and know that whatever I could plan doesn’t match a fraction of what is possible?  But if I do not plan, how do I avoid getting washed up on shore?  Or steered by some other ship master who may jump aboard my ship?

I have ridden the edge of this particular wave of paradox for years.  I think it is a mind trick.  I think I am clued in when I trust the moment to present to me what i need.  To anticipate or project into the future is not of the moment, but of the mind.  But from here I often am not sure.   It seems that always the answer to paradox is an adjustment of the dial of distance.  From up close, it appears either/or.  From a step or two back, the paradox disappears and the millions of options appear in every grey scale between black and white.

Perhaps… I’ll let you know what I find from the bottom of the channel, or from the graveyard, or from the open sea – after all is over, and I am gone.  Perhaps there is a knowing on down the way – but by then, who cares?  the next horizon is so alluring and this world is but a dream barely remembered in the new dawning.

mirror mirrormirrormirrormirage

to be or not to be solid

23 Oct


My first guest blogger:  Eden

It is 12:30 am.  Cookies for a class something or other are out of the oven.  We rise at 5:30 for school.  We have ridden through waves of sillies, grumpies, hostilities, now finishing off with peace.  Some days are just like this.

When she asked me to read her poem for her physical science class, I felt a deeper pull than I could have imagined.  What is life but the choice to be or not be solid?  🙂

To be a solid, or not to be–that is the question:

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The vibrating in place of closely packed particles

Or to take arms against the indefinite shape of liquids

And by opposing become them. For tightly packed particles, or bouncing off particles

No more–and by bouncing off I mean to say that gasses have enough energy to overcome attracted forces until hitting walls or other particles

The gasses, can be compressed or expanded

which solids and liquids cannot. ‘Tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wished. To be solid, to be gas–

To be liquid–perchance to be all at once: ay, there’s the lie,

For in that solid of particles what repeating patterns may come

we have called Crystalline solids and have shuffled off no definite structure to be called Amorphous solids

Must give us pause. There’s the respect

That makes calamity of so long life.

For who would bear the viscosity in liquid of time,

Th’ oppressor’s wrong, it describes how well liquid flow’s

The slightly sliding of the liquid particles

The definite volume

That patient merit of th’ indefinite shape

When he himself might his choice make

With a gas instead? Who would not choose this lifestyle,

To explain warm and cold air rising and falling and no definite volume under a weary life,

But that the dread of gas and its smell,

Thus gas does make smelly particles of us all,

The plasma matter, from whose bourn

traveller’s collide and strip atoms of their electrons

the gas-like positive and negative particles return, and puzzles the will,

And makes us rather bear those solids, gasses, and liquids we have

Than be at a high temperature and energy level

And thus the native hue of resolution

Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,

And enterprise of great pitch and moment

With this regard their particles turn awry

And lose the name of action. I choose solids.

driving lessons

27 Sep

the chariot

The body is a thing itself

which wishes to survive.

We might not always imagine this so –

but try getting in the car with a new driver.

Watch yourself tighten and grip

any solid thing you can find.

Listen to yourself inhale and exhale with difficulty.

The movie your mind is showing on the screen –

A Hundred Different Ways to Die in a Crash.

The very same girl who cannot keep her room clean

is setting out into the very adult task of operating heavy machinery

while still under the influence of adolescence.

She’s actually doing well;

cautious is she after she turned down the radio;

careful is she now that she switched from platform heels.

Imagined myself detached from my existence, did I –

from this body, this life?

Not hardly.

This body has a mind of its own that says

I want to go on.

I do not wish to crash and burn.

This job calls for an even voice,

even breath –

while what is really happening is this –

a  mind and a body wrestle

in the passenger seat beside

a learning curve in motion.

I linger here on

a right of passage as common as standing up,

as learning to walk  –

but just as well might be

leaping from a tall building

and leaving no note behind.

It appears as if an explosion has occurred in my daughter’s bedroom

14 Sep

room explosion

and this too shall pass.

Life is a messy endeavor.

Humor helps.  Want to laugh with me?

The poor girl.

I wouldn’t want to face this mess!

Her nature it seems is to drop things as she goes; she has yet to learn to befriend herself by keeping her things neat, organized, available, clean.  I would love for her to learn this – for my benefit sure, but mostly for herself.

Her mad scrambles for a particular shirt, a pair of shoes, a misplaced homework assignment are difficult, frenetic scenes to witness.

I do lapse into hands on hips moments.  I lapse into solving the problem for her.  I lapse into detached apathy.  I can be found to think the thought she will never get this and we who live with her will pay the price – I shrug, I shut the door, I sigh, I laugh.  I detach from the idea that the state of her room reflects my parenting ability.

What started out messy, when I left town last Thursday, has turned into frightful.  Maybe she is getting ready for Halloween.    If the police were to enter the house unannounced, they would mark this room a crime scene.  They would look for the thieves who turned it upside down looking for money.  They would call social services.

The drum beat in her head  is her own.  I understand my job more and more as a fellow traveler with her along the road is to stand back for her to learn through natural results of her own behavior and choices and yet to also help her find her own way, gently.

I have offered to set the alarm super early tomorrow to assist – not take over – but to offer hands for picking up, return her to the system I tried to create for her when she was in NYC  or perhaps to help her to come up with her own system.

We are only here in our lives for such a short while.  Having a place where things go seems to me a good way to enjoy the ride – but that may not be her journey.   Meanwhile, let’s close the door and enjoy some Billy Collins!

a worm on cement in the sun

12 Aug

In november  when I started this blog experiment,  I was able to point through words to the pain that was playing out in my daughter’s heart.  I didn’t have solutions;  I didn’t know what was going to happen.  While we were trying to find experts and work with their solutions to such things, I also leaned heavily on whomever and whatever I could find that could point me to the deeper thread of this difficulty.

A word like difficulty doesn’t match what I am trying to say.   This raging time was messy, embarrassing, painful, relentless, hopeless in appearance.  Scenes of terror and rage played out in cars, parking lots, closets, mirrors, public places:  scenes of thrashing, smashing, ugly pain at top of the lung out of control hystaria.

My daughter had stepped beyond my reach.  I had never been one for Freudian theories, but truly, as the miraculous visit to a sane Psychiatrist revealed, a classic case of Transference.  Freud did know a few things.   🙂

Eden was unable to rage at her father because he could not listen nor understand her.  He also was not a safe person with whom to work things out.  He has a delusion of who he is, and in this insanity, he is unable to parent, especially in her crisis.  So she took the full weight of her rage and placed it solely on herself and me – the two  most critical  people who could help save her.  She took her rage to the brink of destruction over and over.  It felt like standing on the edge of the grand canyon, while she tied a rope around my waist and proceeded to jump and take me with her into the abyss.

We would resolve and come together but the relief would be short-lived when a word, a look, a call from her father would set it off all over again.

I  am putting words to this chapter, not to relive the past, but to recognize where we are today in contrast to the place we were  in November.  Now I can look it full in the face because we have moved into a new space.  I also visit from my now place on the path with assurance to the frightened me and to any  frightened souls of anywhere where the road gets tough.

Eden has rounded more corners than I can count without the aid of the pills they wanted to prescribe.  She has beat the diagnosis they wanted to pin on her, marched into her rage and out again.  She now relies on her own strength and the strength I am so willing to lend as needed.  This was not the only path through – it is the one that Eden chose.

I am grateful that I walk this earth to be here to see that hope can blossom out of hopelessness  in our little  story.

On our walk yesterday, she stopped to watch a worm making its way across the cement sidewalk in the noonday sun.  I asked if she was going to pick it up to help it not fry as so many worm corpses had done all around where we stooped.

She said no, i want to watch it, to see if it makes it.

And so we watched it make its way.  I was doubtful it would survive. I was wondering if we were just going to watch it die. But wiggle it did and eventually it slithered into the clean line of  grass on the other side, free from the relentless sun, free from the army of hungry ants,  finally burrowing into the cool dirt.

I expressed  dismay while she shared her knowing that it would make it all along.

Here now –  I express my dismay and knowing that exist side by side in me.  What we walk through!  How we help each other!

thank you. thank you. thank you.

Frying on the sidewalk or sinking into the earth, wiggling our worm bodies in joy – we make our way.

a happening

14 May


Can we every convey the surreality of the overlapping patterns of this experience here in a body?

In the 60’s, there was a theatre form called happenings.  A professor described this movement to our class, and I was filled for a longing to see it, participate in it.  Here is how wiki defines it:  A happening is a performance, situation meant to be considered art, usually as performance art. Happenings take place anywhere, and are often multi-disciplinary, with a nonlinear narrative and the active participation of the audience. Key elements of happenings are planned, but artists sometimes retain room for improvisation. This new media art aspect to happenings eliminates the boundary between the artwork and its viewer. Henceforth, the interactions between the audience and the artwork makes the audience, in a sense, part of the art.

My professor shared that upon leaving a happening, he saw a fire truck go by, and he thought it was a part of the show, but really it was just life “happening.”

Last night’s flow was so very cinematic I want to try to capture; i do not know if i can.

Eden was auditioning for 12th Night last night, a play which we all know is ripe with gender fun, which for a 14 year old is pushing envelopes.  I was to drop her off close to the theatre and stay with the car in that she didn’t want to seem like a kid with a parent nearby, but she needed me nearby. (grin)

So I find a spot, between the action of downtown Charleston and the cool black-box space of the theatre and I stay with the car while she goes off.

The whole world is a show – the tourists, college students, downtowners getting about – fun to watch through the side mirror of my car – putting a fun twisty angle on the action.

Walking toward my car in front of me,  4 young, fit and calendar-worthy firemen make their way from the corner station together in dark uniforms toward the restaurants – wide smiles of camaraderie.  Within a few minutes, the loud radio one of them carries goes off about a fire, and all 4 men go sprinting back toward the station with their to-go boxes of food.

Down the main drag no less than 4 full firetrucks and 2 ambulances speed in my side mirror view.  The city is roaring with sirens from every direction.

A happening.

From Eden’s perspective:  she enters the audition to a room full of 10 or so guys.  They begin discussing whether or not there are any hot police or firemen in all of Charleston.  She is annoyed as she is trying to prepare for the cold reading, but says it is pretty funny to listen to them too.

When the sirens start going off, one of the men steps outside in time to see the firemen running down the street.  9 of the men at the audition run out to watch the firemen, squealing with delight as they now have proof of hot firemen in Charleston, sprinting down the street before them.  Eden is left inside with the one straight guy who looks at her drolly and says, “Well, if that is what you prefer.”

She acts out the whole scene when she enters the car, playing all the roles with hilarity.

Life is a show in the moment.  Clearing more and more of a role, an agenda, or a point of view, even,  I’m a pair of eyes and ears – and I am thoroughly entertained.

You can climb a mountain

You can swim the sea

You can jump into the fire

But you’ll never be free

You can shake me up

Or I can break you down

Whoa-o-o-o-, whoa-o-o-o-

We can make each other happy…

I would change the line from But you’ll never be free to You will always be free 🙂
I hope all is well from the fire!

rise and shine

10 May

night to morning

My daughters still do not wake themselves for school.  I go in, as they sleep through their alarms, and gently, or sometimes not so gently, prod them back into consciousness.  It won’t be long, probably, until they are off, and my flow will not include this morning ritual.  This is one area I allow their self-sufficency to lag, and I just realized why I continue this childhood ritual when one might suggest they learn how to wake to an alarm.  There is a moment – a pause between sleeping and waking – that I get to see.  From the dreaming state to the identity of the burdened teenage student, there is a gap.  The essence of their being seeps through before the suit of the ME is put on entirely.  We meet eyes, but those eyes that see me in that state are different.  There is a sweetness of confusion, of contentment, of dismantling and reassembling that I get to peek into.

Rising and Shining into this new day – I see I can hold on to the one who observes all the dreaming and waking, the one before I put mySELF back together.  Thank you for the glimpses here, teenage girl pointers 🙂


the art of leaving the nests

24 Apr

To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.  Pema Chodron

When holding on to the sticks of my little nest and refusing to fly on, the weather can get so stormy as to blow me out of my home.

I am being pushed out of the nest of passivity into participation.  My debut at improv is tonight.

My oldest daughter is going through the beginning of her college application process and show signs of finding her niches, more and more.

My youngest is entering high school this fall and already feels the shift of that, if she doesn’t get recruited into Cirque du Soleil, first. 🙂

My school is transitioning to a whole new format, combining shorter classes and online components, while reliable, English department strongholds – gone overnight; nothing is guaranteed – is it ever?

My girls want to move into a home that feels more like a home than this condo.  Despite the overwhelming task of taking all we own and carrying it out and down and across and through…

My “yes, and…” is to say why not? to all of it.

We are throwing ourselves out of these nests, eyeing others…which starts in the imagination, in openness, in flowing, and finally sweat!  Let us see how this goes.

do we dare?

23 Mar

horned turtle

when tromping through

the thorny fields,

one wears heavy boots

and impenetrable pants;

it only makes sense –

then suddenly

one can find oneself

on the beach

still in protective gear

for the yesterday –

stickier part of the trail –

unaware of the costume change –

there may be a delay…

no matter,

the sun, soon enough, compels a stripping down.

no doubt, at some point her newly born feet will sink into the warmed,

soft sand;

she will ease into the new terrain –

feet in sand

perhaps we had some frozen hearts around here, not unloving, but braced for whatever difficulties lay waiting

for surely we knew the tough times behind!

About 6 months ago, my daughter wanted a pet turtle.  hard-outer shell, retreating stance,  no cuddles!

Now, we ponder the addition of a long-haired cat  – rumored to be better with allergies – rumored to be soft –

do we dare?


C.S. Lewis in The Four Loves:  “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

T.S. Eliot in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”:

“…Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown               130
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.”

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