Thursday, October 4, 2007

Party On

The decision to take Mia’s Saturday party away from home was a good one. The children took a walk in the woods on a beautiful cool morning, pausing to play non-competitive nature games along the way. We had sandwiches and the cake delivered to the nature center. Mr. Nicky played a great set, including a special song all about Mia’s day. The children left with pots of pansies and little mouse cookies.

Too much? Of course. But as I was driving home with the leftovers and bags of dirty plastic dishes to wash in my efforts to be a green hostess, I felt good. My freakage was kept to a minimum. It was all over in three quick hours and everyone seemed happy, even poor little Sebastian, who sobbed because he couldn’t sit next to his beloved Mia during lunch.

Feeling good is not very much what I do these days, so this ease of heart made me wonder, with what does one fill her mind when it is not topped off with worry? What replaces anxiety, regret, and guilt when we finally get rid of them – as this believer in recovery knows we can do?

Gratitude? Yes. Problem-solving? Yeah. Writing work – say, new sentence construction? Sure!

In The Snow Leopard, Peter Matthiessen describes the Buddhist belief that one’s thoughts at death will determine the state of one’s afterlife. “Therefore, every moment of life is to be lived calmly, mindfully, as if it were the last, to insure that the most is made of the precious human state—the only one in which enlightenment is possible.” (Interesting. He wrote this in October, too.)

There’s a lot to be said for the Christian idea of constant prayer, filling the mind with appreciation, kind intentions for others in need . . . It’s the requirement of praise and self-abnegation that gives me trouble.

Autumn landed with a boom for me on October 1. Overcast sky, shadows in every corner and gloom in my head.

“I’m ordering a SAD light,” I tell Randy. “You can put it next to your tinfoil hat,” he replies.

My nails are in shreds; the therapist is in Tuscany. (Does this make you laugh? It does me. It’s one of the few thoughts that broke through my funk today – that and the sight of Mia all decked out in a shiny new pink blouse for picture day.)

In last month's People magazine, Jenny McCarthy, who went to Mother McAuley High School on the Chicago southside and has always comes across as very real to me, says motherhood really kicked her ass. Her son at two was diagnosed with epilepsy, then autism and the strain tore her marriage apart.

Today everything makes me cry – the babysitter’s story of saving her best friend from an overdose, the memory of my husband describing my recycling as “militant,” Jon Brion’s soundtrack to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. At least when I'm crying, I'm not screaming. My resilience is kaput. When Eleanor screams, “No! I won’t!” I answer dully, “I don’t care” or just pick her up, my lower back moaning with the strain, and haul her away.

Randy sends me an email with a picture of the Hang In There kitten on a branch. Thank God for patient and funny husbands, even though their eternal failings make the list of what makes Mommy cry.


dianne said...

Oh, C., I'm sorry things are this way right now. You know it will pass, but it doesn't feel like it ever will. Been there.

Cindy Fey said...

Thanks Di. Just being in a place where I can write about it and share it helps tremendously. As does your regard. And remembering this feeling is temporary. Like Dorrie says, "Keep swimming, keep swimming."