Thursdays mornings I am not in the day care. For years, I worked with children in the day care four or five days a week, until the year after I was at Sudbury Valley and WFDC, when I realized I worked too much; single mom lost in the world, long distance relationships, trying to find what next needed time to find her way. Now I am in the day care three full days and one afternoon and I do lots of day care work interspersed with my regular life, shopping, home maintenance and repair, finances, bookkeeping, communications, enrollments, all sorts of things happen outside those three long and one short days. But on the days I am outside the day care, I had hoped something else would find me, maybe writing, maybe something else.

This week I’m starting a new online course with my writing teacher, Nadia, called Align Your Story. In the first lesson she talked about finding time to write and how when she had very little child care (and I read, when her lovely child was cutting pineapple in my day care kitchen beside me), she took all of her child care time for herself, for her writing. I think about that when I wake up today, full of hopes for writing at my new writing desk, of doing the yoga and meditation sections of the online course as well as responding to the writing prompts. I am so eager to begin I wake at seven, even though I was up past midnight and could in theory use more sleep. I dress without a shower, go downstairs, thinking to put just a batch or two of granola in the oven before I begin.

Now I find myself near eleven, hoping that at eleven thirty my son and I will be off to the bank to set up our new joint account, where we will deposit the first college payments from his dad and me so that next week I can set up the payment plan and on July 1st, Emerson College can begin receiving the first of our money. I’ve cleaned the kitchen. I’ve read a lovely article in The Sun, which I never read, in spite of subscribing at Christmas for myself and my mom and sister and sister-in-law, a family of friends, and a co-worker so we would all be reading the same inspiring things, but this time the article catches me as though it was waiting just for me, an article by a man whose book I read near forty, James Hillman, who spoke to me then about how my life was about to change, as many of our lives do in midlife, and who now speaks to me about the misunderstanding we’ve all had about the value of therapy, and how there may be other ways of greater engagement with the outside world to feed and make use of our souls. He talks of the creative process and how we might find our way in that..So here I am, as the three teenagers emerge from the third floor, two friends of my daughter and my gal, my son still asleep, day care kids and teachers off to the park, and I’ve found only a few minutes to write between cooking, cleaning, laundry, a short bit of reading, and kids entering my world.

This is how it works for moms who want to write. We find the quiet time and we try to use it however we can. Sometimes for me, it means getting the house in order so I can find the physical peace I need to write. Sometimes it means I don’t write for a long, long time. For several years, I didn’t sleep well, and I wrote in the night or in the early morning. For as long as I’ve run the day care, I’ve written in the afternoons, daily observations of our days with children we share with the larger community of teachers and families. Having had a long distance boyfriend the last six years, I’ve written e-mails several times a day attempting to maintain a connection and to give my lonesome adult self some company which I have needed whether or not the kids have been here.

For me there is something about writing that comes with being alone, except for the writing I do in the day care, which I do while settling the children for nap, with the other teacher on the opposite couch. I first wrote with devotion in college, using several of the precious few courses I could take in the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell to take creative writing classes, the last of which introduced me to my now ex-husband, who has written ever since. We fell in love that way, reading and responding to each other’s work and to the work of the others in our class. We also fell out of love when I began to write again, which somehow, when it happened, I had expected and feared. For the many years we lived together, he wrote and I didn’t, other than the day care observations. Same with taking pictures. I had taken photos when I was studying abroad in London and taking a black and white photography class, and had a nice camera that got rained on and ruined upon my return, then another film camera or two given to me by my young husband, but when the world went digital, I lost my muse, until the spring my husband and I fell apart and I took our kids to Disney World and realized I needed a camera of my own. For the few years after that, I needed a visual attachment to the world, as my mind often felt as it was unraveling. Capturing the beauty in the world felt new with the camera, children at play, sunshine and shadow, dishes in my newly solo kitchen sink, flowers at Gilchrist on Retreat, mushrooms in the year there were more than I’d ever known springing from the leaf mulch in Ashfield. I needed that camera to remind me all was not lost, and I needed the words here to remind me I was not alone. Those things worked. I found my way out of a very dark time, and as Hillman reminded me this morning, part of me is just as it has always been, and part of me is irrevocably and astonishingly changed. Without the words and photos, I don’t know how I would have managed all the change and feeling. As Hillmans says, we may not be able to process our lives, but we can become more sensitive to the world and that itself is worthy.

In the last in person writing class of our last term, I shared my work and got feedback not so much about the piece I was sharing but about writing and what it is doing now, how it might be about home, or about what abides when so much has changed, about how to transform chaos into something worth sharing with the world. I don’t know what I’m writing about anymore. I’m not writing to get myself out of a marriage and into the next thing. I’m not writing to start a school or to learn more about alternative education. I’m not even writing poems, which I hoped to learn to write by taking Nadia’s class. I’m writing my way into something, though, and if Nadia and Hillman and the writers whose pieces on writing Nadia shared this week, from Orwell to Joan Didion to Annie Lamott are right, it’s as much about finding what we are writing as we write as about knowing before we begin.

So I’m trying again, giving up on intention to aim for one particular thing, this time writing for writing’s sake, to see what comes, what form it takes, who cares, and how it feels. Wish me luck. I had thought at the beginning of the last in person writing class that I might aim to publish something somewhere other than here, but for some reason I’m back right where I started, finding this voice the one that calls, not sure how to organize myself on a regular basis some other way, on paper, in a journal, in short pieces that aren’t connected by a blog. I’ll try this again, see how it goes, may come and go, try other things. Another class mate said my writing was about wandering. Wise man. All who wander are not lost. Or maybe many of us are, and that is a state we can embrace. As my son said when I asked him last week how he felt about his upcoming solo road trip across the country, Great! I’ll have lots of time to think. What will you think about? I wondered. I don’t know, he replied with assurance. That’s what’s so cool, don’t you think?

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