I can think of only a couple of things it would take the average 50-something a week to recover from. The flu? Base jumping? A particularly wild weekend? (I no longer actually recall what that last one is, but I’m told …)
But I stand before you a survivor. A survivor of 26 hours of labor and a C-section.
Oh, not me, silly. But you can call me Coach.
My only child has given me the greatest gift I could ever receive: a grandchild. After 40 weeks and 3 days, this little angel has come into our family and changed absolutely everything.
I had long ago come to terms with the fact that “grandmother” was not to be one of my job titles. Throughout her twenties, my daughter had said repeatedly that she just could not imagine bringing a child into the world. As someone who’d wanted to be a mom for as long as I could remember, I naturally assumed she’d change her mind. But year after year — 25, 30, 32 — there was no sign of second thoughts. In fact, I’d long since stopped thinking about it at all. Tim and I have a wonderful life here on our Maine island. Our daughter and her fiance decided to join us here three years ago, after a decade of big city life in Philadelphia. We were all thrilled to be living close to one another again in this peaceful and beautiful place. Who needed anything more?
Then, on the day before April Fool’s Day (I kid you not), she sprang it on me. Had she waited a day longer to tell me, I’d have laughed out loud — Hey, good one, kid, that’s a hoot! In the ensuing eight months, as her belly grew and her walk became a waddle, the reality of this child was beginning to dawn on me. But not until November 27, when I finally saw that perfect little face looking up at me, cooing, gripping my pinky finger with her tiny hand … that’s when it became real. Barely breathing, I stood frozen in place. I couldn’t tell you now what I said or even if they were human noises, so surreal was the feeling of seeing her for the first time.
When I look back on this year, on how often I was disappointed with myself for being unable to write very much, I realize how much like pregnancy my own distraction from writing was. It had to run its course. Something bigger was happening, just under the surface, and I needed to nurture it, think about it, plan for it. This is the “project” that has occupied my mind for much of 2016. It’s taken a week to recover my equilibrium enough to even write about this precious and life-altering event, but I’m happy to say we are all now settling into our new roles. A couple became a family. A couple of empty-nesters became grandparents, with the improbable sense of starting anew that brings. A baby due on Thanksgiving Day gave new meaning to the words grateful and thankful.
It’s going to take a lot more than a week to recover from the tidal wave of love engulfing my heart this holiday season.
I’m just beginning to write again in earnest, so in case I neglect to say it later, Merry Christmas to you and yours, and all best wishes for a Happy New Year.
Remember to express your gratitude every day for all the blessings in your life, large and small.
From the day in March when I learned that Tim and I were going to become grandparents … through the turmoil of keeping our townhouse “show-ready” and searching for a new home, essentially erasing any thought of relaxation throughout the summer and early fall … and then the eventual need to acknowledge that not one but both of my writers’ groups were no longer viable … well, much of this year has been one long series of writer’s distractions.
Not that there haven’t been moments of surprise and delight and pure joy along the way. My brother and his family came to spend a real old-fashioned Fourth of July with us here in Bar Harbor — the first of my four siblings to visit. At a local conference last month, I had the opportunity to meet up with a bunch of writer friends I hadn’t seen since the last conference almost a year ago. There I also made a couple of new friends who were looking for a group of kindred spirits with whom to gather regularly to discuss their work, and we have already enjoyed our first rendezvous. Even the house-hunting process delivered a happy accident: after losing out on a house we thought was perfect, we have now designed an even better version of that home to be built for us on a positively gorgeous piece of property. And the buyers of our current home have agreed to allow us to stay on as tenants through the spring, until our new place is ready.
And somehow, at last, it is November.
Our granddaughter is poised to enter this world and inject such joy into our lives that none of us will ever be able to remember what life was like before her arrival.
The fun and exciting task of selecting the finishes for a brand new home is about to begin.
With the Halloween decorations already giving way to red and green and glitter, we are staring down the barrel at Holiday Madness 2016.
Did I say this writer’s distractions were over? Oh no, not by a long shot, my friend.
So how is it that I’m actually contemplating participation in NaNoWriMo amidst this craziness?
The truth, I now know without any doubt, is that a writer’s distractions are not temporary. They are ongoing and continuous, like waves lapping over one another in their race to reach the shore.
There will always be something: babies turn to toddlers, they have birthdays, they learn to walk, then run, then dance. There’s always something to work on in a house, new or otherwise. There will be joys and sorrows and days when it feels like too much effort to make it any farther than the coffeemaker. But I’m a writer. What can I do but push fearlessly, relentlessly against the incoming tide of distractions-without-end and just write?
So, to November … and getting back to being a writer again!
My lobster-plated Subaru crawls through a sea of butter-colored license plates, bumper-to-bumper on the northern reaches of the Garden State Parkway. Even were there no other outward signs (there are), the traffic alone screams, “You’re a long way from Maine.” (more…)
Part of a very special circle of strong and wonderful women, I wrote this poem about sisterhood and friendship as we await the outcome of our friend Nola’s mastectomy.
Machu Picchu was one of Nola’s “bucket list” places, and visiting that sacred place had a significant spiritual impact on her. Last night I couldn’t sleep, thinking about her, but I could clearly see her in the Temple of the Sun at dawn, and I feel she’s going to be okay. We’re all going to be okay.
The mountain whispers
Leave your cares with me, dear child, run free
Lightened, unburdened, laughter trilling on the wind
She ascends, the ridge disappearing under slippered soles
In the Temple of the Sun she holds the orb itself in upturned palms
Blows a kiss
Sparks fly, landing gently on the cheeks of all who love her
Sisters glowing brightly as the new day dawns.