Aiming carefully at my subject, I shot blind. Lifting the camera, I squinted at the LCD screen but could still see nothing; the brightness of the mid afternoon sun rendered it worthless. I tried again, choosing my angle with care, holding perfectly still. When the breeze died down enough for the vibrant, violet bloom to still, I pressed the shutter once more. Shrugging, I walked on, waiting for the next flower or critter or bit of beauty to catch my novice eye.
When I became pregnant for the first time, having endured several months of fertility treatments, I was confident that I knew exactly what I was getting into. I’d read books and articles, I’d studied other parents in my sphere, and in my youthful arrogance I was sure I’d be the perfect mama.
Then, after birthing my daughter, reality walked up and b*#ch slapped me, knocking me flat on my smug posterior leaving my ego bruised and bloody. Dazed, I realized I didn’t know squat. This motherhood gig was HARD.
I swore at my son the other day. Well, not exactly at him, more at his disability and how much work it puts on me. Even as the words flew from my lips, I knew I should be horrified. Ashamed of myself. Instead, all I felt was a bone-deep weariness.
I’m tired. So, so tired.
I’ve been at this homeschooling gig for over 15 years now. Most of those years have been a struggle with varying degrees of language disabilities. It’s hard. My youngest two, who are not learning disabled, have been given the dregs of my time, attention, and enthusiasm.
‘Tis the month for counting blessings and, while I have numerous things I could share which I am grateful for, those of you who know me well know I can’t help but find meaning in the absurd. I’ve been off the grid for several weeks, working hard on other writing projects, but I can’t let the season pass without sharing one particular blessing.
I am thankful for bugs. (Notice I am not including arachnids in this profession of gratitude.) In fact, this past month I have learned much from my little friends. It began in early October when my cousin, who lives out in the toolies, (That is redneck speak for way out in the woods with few or no neighbors in sight.) had caught a praying mantis and texted me to ask if I wanted it. Being a town dweller, my opportunities to observe and enjoy this particular species is limited. I jumped at the chance, and was soon taking custody of a dandy male praying mantis, whom my cousin’s children had named Jackie Chan, likely due to his naturally awesome kung fu fighting stance.
High up in my tree, peering through the foliage, I surveyed my domain. I shifted slightly on my perch, satisfied that no one could spy my nest. An old pillow, wrapped around a stout branch and secured with bright pink yarn, afforded me a measure of luxury . It offered enough cushion to keep me comfortable for a time in my leafy hideaway. I opened my book and stepped into another world…
Creeping silently through the bamboo grove, exotic and foreign foliage in our tame Pacific Northwest neighborhood, I mimed a warning to my assistant, Joey. We were on an African adventure and I was certain I had seen a lion up ahead. How would we get past the wily beast without being eaten? We must find a way or we’d never get to the priceless treasure!
I didn’t realize I was stressed until the text came in. Squinting at the words on the screen, ridiculously small for my middle-aged eyes, emotion poured forth as the tiny words coalesced and their meaning penetrated. An internal dam broke, relief flooding through me as my breath whooshed out, a soft emptying of my lungs. It was that released breath that illuminated my hidden stress, pent up worry freed to the air, a small, dark cloud, vanishing in an instant. Poof!
He was dead within seconds, right on schedule. I breathed in the acrid scent of gunpowder and smiled from my darkened vantage point. The sounds of chaos erupted from the shadows and as the lights came up all attention became focused on the crumpled figure at center stage. It was just as I’d planned it, months ago. Shifting in my seat, I sat back and drank in the mayhem I’d created.