The New Year begins cold and clear. My kids and I spend the early part of the week in Western, Ma, do fireworks in Northampton for First Night, sit by the fire in Ashfield and play games until well past midnight, wake up late the next day, pack up, return home. Then one day of day care, and a storm, which closes schools and day care today. Last night my gal and I put together a new tv cabinet, following directions, screwing screws, moving tapes and cds and the wii and the old vcr along with the newer tv and dvd player from the old wooden dresser we found on the curb, with the carved handles and the pretty pine and the broken drawers to the new sleek black thing from Crate and Barrel. Now the dresser blocks the closet door in the tv room and I’m wondering what to do with it’s pretty carved self.

My sons and I shoveled the snow today, light and fluffy and easier than many storms. Two strong teens and a mom getting the hang of shoveling made light work of the driveway, walks, and van. Then I sent my middle guy off on his own in the van for the first time, newly licensed, to the bank, the gas station, and his gal’s for her birthday, terror in my heart as the boy hit the road. Shortly after, the other three left, older guy, his gal, and my gal, to spend the next several days with their dad. The house shifts like that, full to empty, noisy to quiet, in an instant. Divorce, for me anyway, is like that, many sudden shifts from togetherness to solitude, bipolar is the word my long married college roommate used to describe my life today, trying to understand what it must be like.

All I can say is the heart breaks and breaks and keeps on breaking. It is necessary to go through dark and deeper dark and not to turn, a line from Stanley Kunitz’ The Testing Tree, which I read again this past week in a book given to me by my co-teacher for Christmas, The Wild Braid, Stanley Kunitz’ reflections on his life as he is nearing death, narrative interspersed with poems and photos of him in his gardens. It’s a lovely book, timely, as winter and cold and storms lead me to introspection and poems and gardens remind me that life goes underground, we can tap it even in the dark and cold, and in springtime, things will bloom.

I haven’t written in awhile. Not sure why or how to get back. I’m reading WA on and off, enjoying the poems a lot, but not sharing them so much here. I’ve also been reading more of James Hollis, this time The Eden Project: In Search of the Magical Other, A Jungian Perspective on Relationship. I miss Quaker Meeting, could use a little quiet in community, may try for that on Sunday, may not. 

My older son is home from college for a month, in the middle of his second year away. All three of my kids are teens, growing up and away. The day care is just fine, full now, with many families coming for interviews in the next few weeks, looking for space in the fall. The twos are growing up, as is the baby. Next year will be lots of threes, a one, and some fours, if we’re lucky and they stay, plus the school age kids, assuming they stay, too. Life with kids in two homes and a beau two hours away is complicated, compels me to keep things simple, to focus on folks when I’m with them, to streamline my stuff and home and work life. I’m not sure what next. I’m not getting any younger, nor are my friends and co-workers. Aging parents are the topic in the circles where I travel outside of day care, making my own life feel farther from the lives of the day care families. Once upon a time, I was a new mom, too. Now I’m not. Instead I’m learning to live alone again, to be a single person, to be part of a pair part time, to sort out the complications of divorce and dating and families that don’t fit conventional molds, to shepherd my kids through to adulthood. Always a lot of learning, no matter what stage we’re entering or leaving.

Happy Birthday to each of my kids. Gal turned 13 on Christmas. Guy turned 17 the day after that. Last birthday on Sunday belongs to my eldest, a teen for one more year at 19. When he showed up in the day care at snack yesterday, nearly 6 feet tall, dressed in a black snowboard jacket, cords and a bright red hat, the kids all stopped and stared. We tried to explain that he was my boy, that once upon a time he was the baby who inspired me to start this whole thing. The kids were silent, some lowered their eyes, none seemed to comprehend. Ben said their names in turn, smiled, looked as friendly as he could, but he’s a big guy, a stranger, a mystery man, and these kids don’t know him from hole in the wall, as I think my own folks used to say, but now I think it was hole in the head..and the expression was something like she needs that like another hole in the head..which isn’t really relevant here at all.

Which is to say, this story is done, if it’s even a story. It’s more an attempt to get the juices flowing, to write something again, to find my way, to reach out and connect. Back to James Hollis, my guide at this stage of midlife confusion. Looking for light in the dark days of winter, as I often do, in the pages of a book.