Already 1:50 a.m. and my Golden Retriever has had the good sense to go to sleep near my desk. I, however, have been fuming over my poems. I’ve been experimenting with a different structure lately, and I’m a bit nervous. But a new poem I rather like is now live at La Parola Vivace, inspired by Mother’s Day, in part: Eggplant Lullaby.
I took myself to Walmart today and brought home some longed-for red geraniums and miniature rose bushes for my south-facing kitchen window. I bought a basil plant and a tomato plant too. But I am fearing and dreading something I am powerless over– my landlord may be in a pinch and not inclined to renew my lease.
I’ve lived in my apartment coming up on three years, and I love it. I stubbornly put down roots wherever I am, attach deeply to whomever I’m close to and neither uprooting nor detaching come easily for me. I drafted a note to my landlord and I’m hoping he’ll let me stay, as this is the one apartment out of all eight– two one-level four-plexes, each with a back door and a parking space, and ordinary but well maintained ranch-style build– as he hasn’t yet renovated mine with pergo floors, fresh paint, window “treatments” and sliding glass doors. I pay him $700 a month for rent and utilities combined and now the market is creeping upward again…
Meanwhile. I mentioned this to Jack, my companion, who lives on out at “our” old place, the modular on six acres. We would have to be crazy to give sharing the place in the country another go, but certain things have changed and perhaps in a pinch, it could be done. I now have qualified for a nursing home diversion program, meaning that I have housekeeping help once a week. Our arguments have been over the stress of the upkeep of the place and if I knew I wouldn’t have to take it all back on, or be compelled to, it might help reduce conflict.
It would be also make more sense to consider if we really cheaply divided the house and lived as we have been with me in town and Jack on the place. We have two and a half miles between us and I’ve managed to stop telling him what to do all the time regarding our animals. But in truth, I desperately need a “room of my own,” a writing and daydreaming nook for me, my Golden, and my baby dolls– and my own, very own, kitchen. Have I talked myself back from the edge of the cliff of repeating the same thing expecting new results??.
Segue to Mother’s Day, the recent Time magazine photo of buffed mother nursing three-year old. I have longed to be a mother, so much so that in my series of common law marriages/mirages I’ve nurtured about six girls and a few boys. I’ve sublimated in raising 25 litters of Golden Retrievers in as many years, in delivering and hand-feeding goats, lambs, Arabian foals.
Not long ago I was in a routine of driving out to the place every night to touch base with Jack and be with our cats and the two Jack Russells that are now his good friends i.e. that he has agreed to take on. Then, I put my rocking chair in my bedroom and suddenly I came home to myself– I began to feel that I really do live here. I have several beautiful dolls I’ve made from kits, the lifelike kind that give some people the creeps. But it is immensely comforting to sit and rock one; it relieves my stress and I have the chance to feel the weight of something against my chest.
If I had known, when I terminated a pregnancy in the 70’s, that I would never be able to carry to term, I might have made a different choice. But that’s a second guess. For years I dreamed, literally, vivid dreams of giving birth, the joy of holding my baby in my arms. I didn’t think the hunger would ever go away.
I do think it’s quite extreme to nurse a toddler. I say this because I was in a body cast during that period and utterly dependent upon my mother and other caregivers. When I was freed of the cast, I was far behind other kids in my ability to trust my body. I was afraid to do handstands in ballet, afraid to canter a horse, afraid to ride a bike, although I learned. I didn’t have the opportunity, at a critical phase, to become a person independent of my mother.
Therefore, keeping a child bound to you at the age when he or she wants to explore and find out he’s his own person is not, in my view, a very good idea. Do we want to raise confident or dependent children? I watched Don Lemon interview the mother whose photos was on the Time cover and he pointedly and astutely asked, “Is this business of nursing a three year old something you like, or is it good for your kid?” She bristled at that question.
But I ask the same one. We have to teach our children to deal with themselves– especially, how to self-soothe, how to cope with spates of loneliness or feeling left out. It seems to me these are fundamental to the well-being of a given child.
Believe me, finding out that I’m strong and o.k. on my own at 63 is not a blessing– it’s a curse. The fear of incapacitation and losing my freedom and becoming dependent again is based in lots of living at this point. Please, young mothers, don’t go overboard. Set some sane limits i.e., weaning by the age of two, and help your kids internalize that they don’t have to grow into insecure, needy people, and model your own independence of self and being to them, stat.