Friday, April 27, 2007

Like Water for Milkshakes

I spent last weekend at an old farm set up for art and craft instruction. I learned glassblowing, which happened to be the only thing on my "Do before I die" list. It was a trip a long time in the works (more than ten years) and I can honestly say it was perfect. This was the perfect timing, the perfect setting, the perfect everything.

I left behind husband and son on the first beautiful sunny morning of spring. After a two hour drive I arrived and met the other three people in my class. I also met my teacher who was one of those people born to be doing what she's doing. She's a talented glassblower and a natural teacher. I could not have asked for more.

We spent our first day making drinking glasses, our first night making paperweights. We spent our second day doing whatever we wanted and for me that included more drinking glasses and some vases and bowls, all with a lot of color to spice things up. The third and final day was more of the same. Everything came out a little wonky but each is a treasure to me.

So, like I said, the weekend was perfect. It certainly didn't hurt that I got to be outside for the first beautiful days of spring. I worked outside, I ate outside, I relaxed outside. I enjoyed the heck out of the weather. But more important than that - and as I tried to explain to David - I feel as though I nourished my core. It's times like these that I wish I was a writer so I could accurately put this experience into words. I don't think I can fully capture it, but I can try.

As someone who loves nothing more than to create (with fabric, with wood, with paper, with whatever), spending three days doing nothing BUT that was such a gift. I felt more privileged than I ever have in my life. And I don't mean that in the sense of "I'm glad I could afford to pay for this" (though I am certainly grateful for that). I mean that more in the sense of "I'm glad the universe aligned to allow me to be here." I just kept looking around at the people in my class and the people in other classes - who were spending the days doing things like weaving and making beads and painting canvas floor cloths and rustic furniture - and thinking "This is too good. How did we get here?!"

I've had time to create in recent years but it's always been stolen moments and it's always been with some very specific goal (sew a quilt; knit a blanket; make a scrapbook). There's always some deadline involved and there are always restrictions (though, admittedly, they're usually self-imposed). For three days I was free to create whatever came into my head. When I said it was done, it was done. If it got screwed up, I started over. I didn't have to think about a single other thing. Heck, they even fed me. Every bit of this weekend went right to the core of who I am and shored me right up, like a tall glass of water when you're so, so thirsty.

I've done other things in the last year that were designed to re-energize or rejuvenate me, but their effects have been temporary. To continue with the same metaphor, they've been like fabulous milkshakes that tasted great in the moment but were little more than distractions from the ongoing, nagging thirst that had been building - the thirst that started growing when I stopped having the time or the energy to nourish the creative parts of me that yearned for freedom and time. My glassblowing weekend was pure water that went right to the core of it.

Often in the past when I've had really wonderful experiences, I've been sad to see them end. There was a small part of me that was sad the weekend was done, but overwhelmingly I was happy to come back to this life. And I think that's really saying something because it means it was enough. Too often now things get cut short and I wish for more. But this weekend was not cut short in any way and that made all the difference.

My wish is that everyone could do something like my glassblowing weekend. Maybe crafting wouldn't do it for everyone, but I wish that everyone could find the thing that would do it and find a way to make it happen. The farm where I spent three days actually has a high school program and they never turn anyone away because they can't pay. So when they told us they were refunding a third of our tuition because of some problems with the glass on the first day I told them to keep it and use it for their scholarship program. I wish I could do more and in the future I know I will. And in the future I also know I'll go back.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


It's true this won't be a blog exclusively about being a parent, but that doesn't mean being a parent isn't central to just about everything I do these days. With that in mind, it seemed fitting to introduce my favorite small person, Eli.

We gave Eli the Hebrew name Shalom Asher because we wanted nothing more for him than peace and happiness. In his 2+ years he's lived up to that name in spades. He is the calmest, most cheerful little soul I've ever encountered. He's sweet, he's forgiving, he's thoughtful, he's generous, he's funny, he's quirky, he's quick, he's skinny, he's smart, he's determined, and he's very much two.

Also, he's currently an only child. We've been working on changing that, but so far no dice. I got pregnant easily with Eli so we hoped for the same experience when it came time for #2. Nine months later, here we are, and no sibling. One advantage to being 40 is that the specialists will fast-track you when it comes to infertility so I'm now just finishing up the preliminary testing (Clomid Challenge and HSG) and I'll hope for answers in a couple of weeks. In the meantime I'm preparing my heart and my mind for every other possibility and I'm finding that I'm largely at peace with all of them.

I had this sudden flash a few days ago that not knowing if I'll conceive a second child is actually exciting. I don't mean to put a Pollyanna sugar coat on something that's not simple and certainly not easy, but I believe strongly that you can make your own reality. I choose to make this exciting. How? Well, think about it. If I conceived a second child like *that*, then whammo, my life is settled. A husband, a house in the 'burbs, two kids. No mystery there. But with a second conception in question, there are so many scenarios to mull over. We know we want a second child, but how will he or she arrive? Will we adopt? If we adopt, will it be a baby? Will it be soon? Will we adopt an older child? Maybe in five years? Or maybe we'll decide we don't want a second child after all and we'll be us three for the duration. It's an appealing thought, I have to admit. So I choose to see all of this as possibility and anticipation. It beats limitations and frustration any day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

This is the beginning

I've felt like there might be a blog in me for a while, but it's amazing how much coming up with just the right title can hold you up. This blog will be about parenting, but I'd like to reserve the right to write about other things so I didn't want the focus just there. This blog will be about gossip - people in my world, in the celebrity world, in the world at large - but I can't spend all my time talking about other people so the title couldn't be about that. It might be about fertility, but I'm hoping that's a temporary theme so I didn't want to put too much focus there. There will be some Internet shopping involved, but I'll run out of money eventually and who wants an out-of-date title? It's complex, no?

Then the other day I was reading a book with my son (singing, actually) and we came to the old song "Merrily We Roll Along" and it took me back. My own mother used to sing that song (along with "Good Night Ladies") to my sister and me as she wished us goodnight. It's a happy song. It has to do with parenting. And most importantly I think it captures the essence of who I am and what I hope to do, both with this blog and with my life. So there it was. My title.

A little about me...

I'm newly 40, the mom of one and the wife of one. I've been married to David for four years and in that time have moved from the west coast to the east coast, lived in four places, had one child and spent the last 9 months trying to have another. I used to teach and do research at a university and now, for the foreseeable future, I'm home with my son, Eli. I think about doing various things to get back into the money-making working world - from teaching part-time to becoming a book indexer to selling homemade bibs on Etsy - but for now those are all just in-process and my focus is on home and family.

I guess it's time to start rolling merrily along!