People always said, “Once you feel like you’ve got a handle on things, everything will change.”
Oh- but when things are going well, it’s so seductive to believe you’re over some magical hump and it’s all smooth sailing from there on out.
Last week, James started cutting his first teeth. Also, he decided to start getting up 2-3 times in the night instead of just once. Oh, and he decided that 5 a.m. would be a really great time for everyone to start their day.
The temperature dropped, big time. I took him to an indoor garden downtown and after we had spent a nice little while watching the koi fish swim around, we sat down on a bench. I looked away for a split second to get something out of my purse and turned to find him front flipping off of the bench, exploding into screams as he ka-BOOM-ed on the tile floor. It’s so so great when strangers can witness what a negligent mother you are!
Later, in the privacy of our own home, he stabbed his eyelid with a coaster, slammed his finger in a drawer and bonked himself in the face with one of his blocks. He had the cuts and bruises to show for it…which meant it looked like I was lightly beating him in the face.
I had also landed a small writing project- a book review. So every nap and evening were devoted to plowing through the book and then compiling my thoughts in 500 eloquent words. And putting together three more compelling pitches for a new piece.
All the while, my house conspired against me. Sometimes I feel like there are evil elves living in the walls. They slink out when I turn my back and throw everything around just to fuck with me. Every time the house finally feels contained and clean, it’s a wreck again. And then I realize there are no elves: IT’S ME. I am the evil elf!
But amidst the chaos, two messages arrived.
My best friend sent me Cheryl Strayed’s Brave Enough.
After taking a two-year hiatus from writing, writing here, regularly, has re-inspired me. As my excitement builds, so too does my fear and trepidation. Building a career at this seems impossible to me on most days. So impossible, I’m a little too scared to even say out loud that it’s something I might want. For now, I’m trying to stay focused on doing the work – on sitting down at the keyboard and typing.
But those gold letters shining out from the bright green background–just two words.
Brave Enough. Brave enough, brave enough.
Followed by my friend’s three: Because you are brave.
And then, in Lenny Letter (the awesome new newsletter from Jenni Konner and Lena Dunham – you must read The Watermelon Skirt!), my horoscope (or Lennyscope as they call it) read: Everything is so not OK, and it’s fine. Like, you’re just never going to get to the place where you have everything under wraps: your body, career, relationship, living space. Honestly, what would you even do if everything were under wraps? You would probably panic and unwrap something, just to avoid a greater sense of Now what? I want you to know that unwrapped as you are, you are killing it. Believe that, and you will always be wrapped in your own way underneath the fraying ends.
I want you to know that unwrapped as you are, you are killing it.
I don’t know if I am brave or if I am killing it – but I held those two messages close last week. It’s funny how things like that arrive at just the moment you need them.
I felt so grateful – for the good faith of the editor that assigned me the book review. For women like Cheryl Strayed and Lena Dunham (both also host excellent podcasts: Dear Sugar Radio and Women of the Hour, respectively) who use their creative work and platform to lift other people up (especially women!). For my friend.
We used to watch Almost Famous all the time in college, she and I. “It’s all happening!” we would squeal – just like Penny Lane – when something exciting was afoot. One of my grad school teachers would always admonish me for using unattached ‘It’s at the beginning of sentences. But here, the ‘it’ is so perfect – available for whatever you please. The ‘all’ too – a deep empty chasm – you drop anything in and it overflows, like a magic trick.
I think that thing about everything changing as soon as you get a handle on it probably applies to life as much as it does to babies. And I look at James’s tiny little teeth poking through his gums and think: Yes. It is all happening.