“Difficulty becomes familiar, at least, if no less difficult.
The trouble with setting goals is that you’re constantly
working toward what you used to want.” –Sarah Manguso
Can I be brave enough to repeat what I’ve failed at, repeatedly?
I read a blog about how kids are already who they are, that we make too much of parenting, that parenting long ago was simpler because (implied) doing the wash took up more time & energy.
Parenting is the hardest task I have ever striven at.
It’s hard enough to deserve the “at” sitting badly at the end of that last sentence.
Should I be striving less? If I had managed to juggle full time work with the work of parenting would it have been easier?
For Christ’s sake, reading about parenting wants me to take the Lord’s name in vain even though I long ago gave up the idea of swearing being bad, bad for me at least.
I love parenting. I love that it took awhile to grow into the task. And that I’ll never stop growing into it.
I take Sarah Manguso’s words in “300 Arguments” and I ease into being seen: “Difficulty becomes familiar, at least, if no less difficult.”
What a relief to know patience won’t be mine simply because I desire being a patient parent, one who breathes easily into helping my youngest with 33 questions. 33 questions on plate tectonics.
I take the science of volcanoes and earthquakes and I see myself shifting. I see divergence and convergence and lava and magma and I feel my collarbone and wonder how calcium shifts as I age. Is it draining out of me? How much longer will I be the one my youngest desires to spend time with? How I both want to be alone and to be with her. How I want her to answer all 33 questions herself. How I’ve hired an 8th grade girl to help her answer some of these 33 questions. How one of her tutors will help her answer maybe 10 of these questions. How I care too much.
“Difficulty becomes familiar, at least, if no less difficult.”
I always thought this difficulty would ease. Actually that isn’t true. Long ago I cried to a friend, during that year my girl repeated kindergarten. Tears rushed out of me as I asked her, “When does this get easier?”
“It gets easier and then it’s hard again. You’re in the hardest part right now.”
Thank God my friend was a crier like me. She held space for my tears until I could learn to hold space myself.
I hold space for the 33 questions. I hold space for Annie who is now LizAnn or Lizard or Lizeeto. She says we are only answering 3 questions tonight and I make myself listen. I mean, I pour some sighs in because OMG, let’s do ten! I surf the wave of myself and get out of her way. Because if I get out of her way we can watch a sitcom and laugh together instead of talking about how heat from the center of the earth rises, creating melt-age and change.
My center shifts. I feel my collarbone with my fingers. My skin stretches over my collarbone. I adore Lizeeto’s notch in her collarbone. I won’t let anyone tell me we shouldn’t be able to see that notch. I let myself wrestle with my own questions. She slides the 33 questions in her binder before she convinces me to watch the sitcom.
I realize I need a new goal. Or I need no goals. I just need to take my fingertips and smooth the skin over my collarbone and settle into this difficulty that is merely our lucky lives. No endpoint. Just a wave we ride for as long we can.