hence the detour, ma’am

frayedA 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.)

detourIt 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:

drums
foil
coffee
book blurbs
futon
grant apps
insurance
dentist
invention
potatoes
blog post

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.the right road

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.

trooper

I expect you to file a full report.

12 thoughts on “hence the detour, ma’am

  1. markie says:

    your list is priceless…uncanny that i have a new drum sitting in my bedroom waiting for TIME to take these two hands off the steering wheel, off the keyboard, off the potato peeler and onto the taut goatskin…if not now, then when?

  2. Seonaid says:

    Hello! Welcome back (from detours etc.) I dropped my post-a-day challenge when I discovered that it was incompatible with crossing the continent with two of my children. Had a great summer, though, even with the 10,000 km detour. 8)

  3. madeleine c. says:

    Once again I read a post from you and feel a bit less alone in the maelsrom of parenting and constant production. I got up in the middle of the night to do more work, battling my own guilty feelings of not being “enough” and not doing “enough.” Enough!!! Thanks, Amy, for your wisdom and cyber cameraderie. May pinky heal swiftly.

  4. Elaine says:

    Good post Pokey. Why are potatoes ALWAYS on the list?

  5. Beth says:

    of course there are indeed days when we actually do need to buy foil and coffee..but if it’s not one of those days (and my goal is always less of those days)..write, sing, dance,and do a little bit of nothing too..

  6. Marcelle says:

    Now I know why we missed you this AM, sorry about the toe, thank you for the reminder about taking care of what does not make the list!

  7. nields says:

    Today the orthodontist called. I apologized for missing our appointment which I was sure we had. In fact I’d spent a few days feeling guilty about it and thinking about how I needed to call them etc… She stopped me. She said, “but your appointment is tomorrow.” I am pretty sure I cannot call that a success.
    Ah… the detours. Love it.
    Also, I do really have a lot of potatoes. Come get some and cross that off your list. 🙂

  8. Maya says:

    Welcome back little Poke-Poke! I’ve missed you in the blog realm. Sorry about the pinky-toe. Glad it wasn’t your femur or tibia… and, well, happy for you and your readers that you were laid-low in a minor kind of way.

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