A couple of months ago I was in the car with my two children. It was late afternoon, one of those days where Pokey had already circumnavigated several points on our globe—school, home, work, school, home, soccer—and she was getting a tad frayed around the edges. Not crabby, mind you, just a bit unraveled.
As we traveled on a quiet two-laner toward yet another compass point, we came upon an overpass bedecked with orange and white stanchions bearing a message. Despite the bright colors, foot-high block text and the presence of a police cruiser complete with flashing lights, Pokey blithely proceeded on her merry way. (Imagine here some merry way kind of music, or at least some humming.)
It was only when my kids began shouting that I woke from my reverie (probably what was next on the list, or what to make for dinner) and noticed a trooper waving his arms and approaching the car. I slowed, rolled down the window and asked, “Oh, am I not supposed to go that way?”
The trooper said (kindly, as if speaking to a recently woken child) “No, ma’am you’re not. Hence the detour, Ma’am.”
And here I sit, having written nary a post in all this time. I’ve read that it’s bad blog etiquette to apologize for not posting. And it’s boring, to boot. So I won’t. But because this blog is all about what we as Mothers AND… are up against, I do feel compelled to write about the detour, because if I look back at where I’ve been and squint forward at what might lie ahead, it’s all pretty much squiggly lines.
(You notice Pokey did not say dead ends. Because who has time to stop?)
It’s not that I don’t have plans. You should see Pokey’s lists: she’s got sticky posts on her desktop, excel spreadsheets, week-at-a-time planners and plain old yellow-ruled pads crammed with stuff like this:
It would be nice if that kind trooper could direct me away from foil and coffee , and put me on the right road to creative fulfillment, but sometimes it’s the potatoes that come first. More often than not, actually.
Hence, the detours, the work-arounds, the gaps and the silences. (Remember Tillie Olson?)
I guess, dear reader, what I’m trying to say is that it’s not about lack of discipline. We Mothers AND… have a tremendous amount of that—how else to get through birth and parenting? But it takes a different kind of discipline, a ruthlessness, to stay with this wanting-to-be-an-artist thing. It feels selfish and maybe a little unnatural to set aside the unrelenting press of day-to-day needs, and do this thing that’s completely necessary but difficult to explain. Hard to justify, when the bills and dishes pile up, the college fund remains empty, the bathroom unpainted.
But having taken the time to write this, already I’m singing. I haven’t even finished, but there’s a lightness, a happiness I get from writing that I don’t get anywhere else. It not that my family doesn’t make me happy (though sometimes, yes, they do not) it’s just different. It’s not on the list.
So, last night I was so exhausted that I literally walked into the wall. I hit the corner of the baseboard and my pinky toe went a different way than the rest of my toes. Because of this grave injury it’s necessary that I forsake all other high-priority activities and plant myself on the couch with my laptop and the humming in my brain.
Hence the detour, Ma’am.
Pokey does not advise you to injure yourself in order to get some quiet time. In fact, she’s suggesting you may want to set aside an hour or two, now, for some singing, BEFORE you hit the wall.
I expect you to file a full report.