March 5, 2013

Events, Snow and Otherwise

A snow "event" is tapering off outside my window, dropping perhaps ten inches of new white, and where half the state's population is elated and the other half depressed (a friend reminded me it was 80' right around this time last year here), my mind has never been more inside, less focused on coats and boots, more in tune with another body's breath. I have decided that late winter is the perfect time to welcome an infant into the world. All there is to do is cuddle.

Elliot is wonderful, friends, and I hope each of you know how much I've appreciated your support and positive thoughts throughout his journey here. Right now he is beside me, asleep. This means I should start dinner. This means I should fold some clothes. This means I should call the insurance company. This means I should actually unload the dishwasher, which was a task I began this morning and got as far as, oh, opening its door. I'm learning that there are a lot of things that should but don't get done with an infant at home, because they just don't matter, not enough. Food, yes. It is important to eat, I suppose, but have I mentioned how much hair Elliot has? Can I just tell you how much of a spiky mess it is right now, which makes it all the more tempting to constantly touch? And it is what I've been touching. Not the dishes. Not the laundry. My son.

It still feels amazingly crazy to say/write/think that.

Anyway, I meant this as a general update post, and also as a way to say, hello, I'm here, and I will write and take photos and post again with regularity at some point down the road, but it just can't be right now. And can anyone speak to that? How to be a mother or father while at the same time being a writer/artist/creative, because wow, does that seem currently out of reach. These days have been a sweet fog of action verbs with very few pauses in between, and the pauses are where I catch my breath, not speak. You know? So: any insights from those who have come before are most welcome!

That said, I linked myself to a few events before Elliot swept in, for which I am thankful, as they'll force me to fly at least a few times from our little family nest and stretch these individual wings. I mention them here because I know some of you are local, and I think these events, unlike snow events, would be enjoyable for all who read this blog.

  • I'll be presenting in the afternoon on Saturday, April 6th, with two other local bloggers at the Chanhassen Library's Writer's Fair. We'll be discussing blogging and the myriad ways it can improve one's writing. Come and say hi! I'm excited to talk with others who've found success and inspiration with this form.
  •  On Saturday, May 18th, I'll be co-leading a Poetry of Place workshop with Minnesota's fabulous poet laureate Joyce Sutphen. The workshop is hosted by Prairie Oaks Institute in Belle Plaine. Prairie Oaks is located on a beautiful stretch of land, and I'm already excited about the wandering, musing, and writing the day will no doubt inspire. Check out the above link for registration info.
  • I have a few poems and writings coming out in publications over the next few months, and I'll do my best to link to them if they're online. Truly, I always appreciate feedback on my work. It helps me grow. It's one of the reasons I created this Landing on Cloudy Water space, and why it's survived.

Well, the babe is stirring, and in the middle of these paragraphs I did put a pot of water on the stove which I'm sure has boiled down to less than what I need for soup. But thank God for soup. I have found that such food thrives on imperfection and passing dashes of what-I-have-in-my-hand. This sums up life at the moment, and with a bit of crusty bread, some butter, and the sweet sounds of my family, it is, I've found, all a body really needs to be satisfied.


16 comments:

  1. Well, to be honest, my writing was set aside for many, many years while I nurtured and raised my three. Now they are grown and gone and I can write all I want. I miss those years...

    The writing will always be there, waiting. The son will not. It seems to me you've struck a balance that works.

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    1. "The writing will always be there. The son will not." Good advice, Audrey. Elliot is already one month old, and this shocks me. Everyone was right when they talked about how quickly the days go. Going to focus in on him...

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  2. First and most important: Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful son!
    My beautiful son is now 25 and my lovely daughter will be 29 tomorrow at 9:50pm to be exact. Yes, I still remember that wonderfully scary and difficult day.

    Second and equally important: Enjoy and submerge yourself in this time with your son. This is a precious, miraculous and once-in-a-lifetime, time. Cuddling and rocking and soothing and singing come first...soup and sleep and soft socks come second...and all else comes when it needs to. This is your poetry and painting and sculpting right now.

    It might feel all consuming and overwhelming at times. It is. But it is really a very short time in your life, trust me. I tried to do too many things at times and tired myself out. I had to learn new lessons from a tiny new teacher. I wasn't the smartest of students, but lucky for me, I had excellent little teachers who have both grown up into wonderful, successful and loving adults. And every year, I remember those little eyelashes and fingernails and toes like they were...and shake my head in wonder of it all.

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    1. Hi Susan,

      Thank you for this thoughtful comment. It rings so true for me today, especially the part about our children being our teachers. Sometimes when Elliot is crying after milk, I say to him, "Patience, patience, child," but really it's me that needs to learn that lesson. To not rush things. Yes, to not do too much. And I love this insight: "This is your poetry and painting and sculpting right now. " That's a quote I will repeat to myself daily.

      All best!

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  3. My children and grown and living lives of their own. And this I say to you. Live each moment with your son. Appreciate every moment. The next 18 years will go by as quickly as a heart beat and it is the best time of your life, at least it was for me. These days of being a parent, so precious and important, will be full of fun, laughter, and challenges. And believe it or not, your career, your writing, will all happen with time. And it will be better than before. Your life is rich with learning and mystery. What better way of linking everything together.

    And by the way, Emily, you are still one of my favorite writers and I just love it when you have something to say.

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    1. Thank you, Bill! I'm so grateful today for people like you who have left their wisdom here. It's easy, I think, for people of my generation (maybe this is so for most, though, regardless of the time?) to feel like they have to do it all, be "super" at this and that and that other thing, too. So important--SO IMPORTANT--to let that go, allow myself to move slowly, to stay in pajamas all day if that means I am calm and present with this new little person. Life is rich with learning and mystery, indeed! Excited to discover what you have...

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  4. My experience with infants says: your creative work may have to go on the back burner for a while. That may sound discouraging, but believe it or not, the time will come back some day. You won't lose your skills and talents. They'll percolate in the back of your brain.

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    1. Yes, and accepting that is perhaps the first step in letting that percolation happen without the conscious me. I like that image. (We currently have a percolator on our counter, so it's easy to hold in my mind.) Someday down the road I will be ready to look in the pot that's been simmering all that good while, smell the brew, and be amazed by the richness of the flavor. :)

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  5. Oh, you will be mining such rich raw material in every moment. And, as others have said, the most important thing you can do for yourself is to allow yourself to be where you are. I would urge you neither to shut yourself off from your literary life, nor to store up regrets by missing too much of your son's journey as he writes his story into being, day by day. It is your story, too. It sounds very much as though you have the perfect balance going on, setting up those future forays into the literary world that will keep you fed and growing. Always have something programmed in for next month, but never too much. As others have said, this is the most creative and expansive time you'll ever know, in ways that become clear only at the distance that comes with our children's fledging. Enjoy the now. Let go of the need to feel yourself moving forward. It is enough. Though you may fear and resist the treading of water, it is such a short time... Keep us posted. Many blessings.

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    1. Such a heartfelt comment: brought a lump to my throat!

      As I was pregnant, I read somewhere about pregnancy being the ultimate creative act. Your body is creating life, after all. Somehow I'd never thought of it in quite that way, and it resonated with me deeply. What you say here is true: every day I am creating, he is creating, we are creating the hours together. I suppose we all do this, regardless, but to be intentional with that act everyday? If I can give myself over to that energy, the universe itself will expand.

      Thanks for being here, Mary.

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  6. Congratulations on the birth of Elliott. I loved the blog you wrote just before he was born - so gentle, but also fearful of the great change that would come over you both. I can see that you're adapting well by fully appreciating his every breath while also getting out of the house to share your amazing writing and blogging skills. Keep it up!

    As for snow, I live near Washington, DC and today everything is shut down - in spite of the fact that it's practically raining and the roads are totally clear. This sure ain't Minnesota!

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    1. Ha! While teaching To Kill a Mockingbird, I always enjoy the chapter where Scout wakes up to (maybe) an inch of Alabama snow and thinks that the world is surely ending. Hope you made it through the rain! And thanks, too, for your congratulations (and comments on the blog). We feel very lucky to have been given such a sweet little boy. And even if he was naughty, we'd love him to pieces! We'll see how it all goes...!

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  7. Cuddle away Emily!

    I admire your admition that your life now is like a "sweet fog of action verbs."

    "My son" are two of the most precious words a parent could utter (plus "My daughter")

    If I lived in MN, I would love to share my year's experience as a new blogger/writer at the Chanhassen Library's Writer's Fair.

    I know you will continue to write into Elliott's life the gifts you were blessed with. Write on.

    Richard

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    1. Richard, based on the belatedness of my reply, I hope you assumed that I was taking your advice: cuddling with a small baby is bliss. We're having a particularly cold March this year, and I appreciate having Elliot next to me keeping me warm.

      And per your blogging year, you should check out local writers' groups in your area. I'm sure they'd benefit from your experience!

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  8. Although I have no children, I appreciate so much your words and your attitude. My turn came at the end of my mother's life, when I cared for her for fifteen years or so and watched over her transformation back into childhood. Her need and my commitment weren't so complete as Elliot's and yours, but there are memories for me in what you say.

    I once spoke to a writing group about blogging as communication, literature and a platform to learn writing. It was about four-and-a-half years ago, and my first task was to explain what a blog might be! I wish I could go back now and tell them about the past four years or so - they might not believe how enriching the experience can be, but I certainly am.

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    1. Linda, I watched my mother take care of her mother through the last years of her life (dementia, etc.), and I'm sure you know what I mean about commitment. The end-of-life parent/child relationship is of course a deep, emotional one, too.

      And yes, blogging has led to my growth as a writer/reader/literary citizen for many reasons. Excited to share them!

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