Thursday, April 30, 2015

Back In Spring

It's spring and the ants are invading, lining the windows, zagging the floors. I wash the counters with vinegar and sprinkle cinnamon like pixie dust. All at once the pear blossoms bend their branches to form a canopy over Columbia street and, now, Little O and I are no longer caught indoors, wishing the cold away, instead we circuit playgrounds in a wide loop around our corner of Brooklyn.

Some playgrounds are crowded with rows of nannies rocking strollers, shushing infants to sleep in a back and forth, push and pull, while their siblings streak and tear through the narrow spaces of play. Others sit tucked beside the various entrance to the BQE, invaded only after school. The children come in waves of screams and O doesn't understand why he can't toddle with his tentative, bumbling, Frankenstein walk when they come through.

The playground I like best is on the waterfront and it's for the smallest of the littles. Even O, who only began walking a few weeks ago, can climb the broad steps of the slide and make his way down alone. Sometimes I overestimate his capabilities and he's tumbling across the blue ground, arms up and wondering and waiting for love while he pouts.

This spring finds us in the swimming pool at the YMCA in Manhattan, navigating subway stairs and stroller wheels through clogged streets to get there. Sam is the bare-chested, gold-chain wearing swim instructor, who sings nursery rhymes like he's sauntering the stage of a cabaret, while we swirl the babies on our hips, and it reminds me of my childhood in our above ground pool that always looked vaguely green with its dented walls. My friends and I used to churn water to make a soft, singing whirlpool.

But now I am the mother carrying childhood memories, reciting Humpty Dumpty over and over, from 'wall' to the 'fall', from the tile to the water and back again. O was the only child to cry for twenty-five of the thirty minutes. But he smiled through chlorine and tears and kicked his way through the last five.

As if he recognized the thrill of his experience, too late, he wailed as we exited the pool, wanting only to go back in.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

More writing. Less dwelling.

Since Little O's been born, time feels like a series of pockets. Zipped up most of the day, then flung open in hour increments when he naps. When he finally (finally) rests his bright red hair on the alphabet sheet and ends his day, it feels like my work day begins. It's in the evenings and late into the night that I sit down to work or write. 

This is no different from when I worked full time at a day job. In some ways, there's more time because the day isn't spent drowning in corporate stress and pressures. I may be physically exhausted, hauling Little O through our world, wrangling him upon changing tables or inside cribs and high chairs and strollers and carriers. I may be emotionally exhausted trying to understand what a mini-human who can not speak actually wants, tested by someone who knows more about wrongdoing than he pretends (but how can I scold that innocent face, those pleading up at me big-brown mirrored eyes?) But my mind is active and engaged with life and the world in a way it hadn't been inside a gray cubicle. And, for this reason, it feels like these very small pockets of time are more productive.

I'm not going to pretend I'm accomplishing loads of freelance work or knocking out novels and essays and stories in mere weeks. I can't say that I'm writing at some new level of quality. But my writing has become more focused. I thought, for a while, it was because of the time constraint alone but I realize it may be that active and alert mind throughout the rest of the day.

I used to use writing time for both writing and dwelling on what I would write or say and how I would say it. Now I dwell on words in some kind of secret passageway in my mind throughout the day, during the quick shower, the stroller walk to the park, at the sink washing dishes, or while feeding O yogurt from a spoon. And my writing time is, for the most part, writing time. Tapping out words. Playing around with them. And if words aren't coming, I move on to the next task on a very, very long list of to-do.

Of course, next week, it all could change. If motherhood has taught me anything, it's that nothing is static, everything is in motion, just a phase of the moon.

But for now. Today. More writing. Less dwelling. It's been interesting.