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desire and enthusiasm

August 20, 2011

These are the orange roses I bought for myself ($10/dozen) at the flower shop in my new neighborhood. They sit in my narrow kitchen on the small black bar-height table which I assembled with borrowed tools. The photos in the center are of my boys. The easel and art print in the background are leaning against the wall in the office off the kitchen. The florist told me that orange roses symbolize desire and enthusiasm. They seem like a perfectly matched pair, but I can’t seem to get them to align for me in this new space. I have either one or the other, and I worry that there’ll be no movement if I can’t get them to work together.

Friends tell me the challenges are little tests. Trouble putting furniture together because you’ve always relied on someone else to do it? In the end, even without your own screwdriver, you did it. Son up puking in the night — you retching alongside — with no one else to assist? When morning comes, the child knows he can rely on you when he’s sick because you were there and you did it.

I understand that these bits and pieces may become part of the evidence that I’m going to make this work. But I’m very self-conscious about considering any part of this a success. I like to think it is because I am cautious and careful and respectful of others who are also conflicted about this unfolding new world. How much time will be enough with the boys? (Is there such a thing as enough time?) What do the new boundaries look like in the old relationship?

None of it’s easy. And, of course, it shouldn’t be easy. But I’m really anxious for a chance to catch my breath. And find the space for some actual reflection.

We lost my grandmother recently. We visited my dad at a new house with a new lady friend (who is lovely, really lovely) in his life. I mention it because very few pieces of my life look anything like they looked two or three years ago. Step back even farther? Forget even about imagining what could happen. In the last few years, I have lost both grandmothers and my mother. In the last six months, I have started a new job, moved and ended a 20-year relationship. Those are The Major Life Stresses, right?

And it is not lost on me that despite all of the cosmic lessons inherent in those Big Events, I have only started learning about who I want to be as a mother in the last couple months. It’s always been this intangible, theoretical bull shit. But it’s very real now. It’s an imperative to work at it. It means something to physically show up; it means something to be tethered together.

I know some women/some mothers come by these sorts of things naturally. I know some people can’t imagine a mother not knowing instinctively what to do every day. But I’ve never been blessed with that knowledge. I’ve never known what end was up as a mother — not even when I tucked them in every night and woke to them every morning.

The difference is that before I was looking forward to finding myself somewhere in the space after they graduated college, and now, I’m looking forward to finding myself somewhere in the space that arrives the very next time I see them. Where we both are now.

I don’t know anything about anything. Motherhood. Relationships. Writing. But for the first time in years, I’m convinced I have something to contribute. The “how” can’t elude me forever. Desire and enthusiasm are on my side. (Even if they take turns, maybe they can provide notes to one another in the hand-off.)

  1. Margaret Bryant permalink
    August 20, 2011 8:48 pm

    Carolee, My thoughts and prayers are with you every day. You seem to be so “on the right track”—moving cautiously, not taking anything for granted as you move in wonder and very practically into your new scenes.
    You seem to realize,in a healthy and productive way, all that you don’t know and how highlights and shadows may bounce off your new situations and bewilder you at times. You love your kids and respect the challenges. Yes, you can not call it success, but who can? We all move along the tracks hoping that the journey will be beyond ourselves and our present places to better selves and more comfortable destinations!

  2. August 20, 2011 11:03 pm


    trading notes. yes. “finding myself somewhere in the space that arrives the very next time” … finding them and you and the new ways of being. step by step.


  3. August 21, 2011 5:09 pm

    Hi Carolee,
    Your new place looks so bright & beautiful. Thinking about you and hoping you are happy. Prayers, thoughts and hugs go out to you.

    all the best,

  4. August 22, 2011 10:37 am

    “I don’t know anything about anything” –the beginning of wisdom. Many blessings in your endeavors.

  5. Heather Tice permalink
    August 26, 2011 2:56 pm

    Carolee- How beautifully said straight from the heart! Who knows anything about anything??!! The expectations put on us in this life for each and every role we are suppose to play seem unattainable most of the time. Did I pass or fail, was it right or wrong? Whose to say where we draw that line? As long as everything we do, say, feel, or think is with good intention from our heart all the pieces will fall exactly where they are suppose to be! There is a little voice deep down in our soul always talking and all we have to do is listen! Not think…listen and you can’t go wrong! I wish you nothing but the best in this new journey and as long as there is love everyone will be just fine! With light and love, Heather


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