Still.Life.

I have been thinking
about living
like the lilies
that blow in the fields.

~Mary Oliver

August 2007

Moving On

Today is technically my second-to-last day working at the magazine. When I’ve left previous jobs, it has been with a touch of sadness. Leaving the newspaper was particularly hard, mostly because I was, essentially, leaving Damian. But, oddly enough, I feel no remorse, no sadness, no attachment whatsoever to the magazine. I am happy to go. After two plus years as an administrative assistant, both at the magazine and at the newspaper, I have come to realize something: Being a mother to a child is a rewarding experience, as is caring for children, generally, but mothering other adults (as assistants often do)? Not so much. I am looking forward to being needed because my charges are truly helpless, not because they have learned to rely on me.

In memory of my short 4½ months at the magazine, I took some pictures of some of the things I disliked most about my job as reminders when I get frustrated on my new career path; the top three are my cubicle, my Mac, and the shipping table. It felt almost like espionage when I was snapping these shots. I waited until I was pretty much the last one there, because I didn’t want anyone to think I was nuts. You never know when screaming kids, diapers, runny noses, and the like will make me think I want to go back to admin work. Then, I can look at these pictures and remember why I switched careers in the first place.

So long, farewell, Auf wiedersehen, goodbye,
I leave and heave a sigh and say goodbye—

Summertime

August 2007As the yellow warmth of summer fades to the chilly brown of autumn, Lil and I grasp at the few moments left of our favorite season. This morning we discovered my great-grandfather Wilson Davidson’s binoculars in the closet, and Lillia was dying to try them out. I was a little nervous about handing a family heirloom over to a three-year-old, but I let her play with them for a bit. She wanted to take them to school, but I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of exposing a priceless antique to a group of preschoolers. Thankfully, the binoculars are housed in a really neat peach-colored carrying case (a perfect recepticle for plastic animals). I convinced her to take just the case to school, into which she put a frog and was happy.

After dinner we set out through to woods to the meadow under the guise of acquiring caterpillar food, but we were going mostly to test binoculars. I couldn’t face another evening stuck in the house, knowing that summer was slipping by and would soon be gone. I feel like my childhood summers were more carefree than the ones I am able to offer to Lillia. Part of that is because my mother didn’t work, so our schedule was more loosely defined than Lil’s. Another reason is that Lillia doesn’t have anyone her own age to play with most of the time, so parents and grandparents have to be substitute playmates. And, we’re tired so we’re not much fun.

August 2007For a few moments in the meadow I remembered what it was like to have no worries beyond the stalk of grass in front of me; to have no anxiety about the future because I had no concept of anything beyond what was happening at that very moment. Why is it so hard to access that state of mind once we become adults? Is it simply a matter of exercising our ability to let go, or is there something that happens to us after we’ve lived in the world long enough? We analyze our world until it breaks apart, and we can never again render it as a whole space. It is sad that we must experience our world in pieces, for we are guaranteed to miss so much that way. It is like using a grain of sand to try and understand the immensity of a boulder. We are finite beings, and there are too many grains of sand.

From an essay that Damian sent me, “The Sacred and the Human” by Roger Scruton:

…the moments when time stands still, when we look on the world from a point at its edge, when we experience our dependence and contingency, and when we are apt to be filled with an entirely reasonable awe.

I watched Lil weave her way through the tall grass, struggling to keep her balance in the green, and I thought about all the ways we try to fill our children’s days, when the simplest things are sometimes all that they really need. I have always said I don’t want to be one of those parents who micro-manages her kid’s life, who has some activity or another planned for every day of the week. What kind of childhood is that? Lillia has enough structure in her day at school. I think what she really needs at the end of the day is the same thing that I need: a chance to do nothing; to chill; to get away from it all; to space out; to watch the sun set on a field of corn; to watch a bee gather pollen; to wander through the woods, enjoying the world into which we are all born.

August 2007

All Signs Point To Yes

August 2007

I just returned from the preschool damage control/crisis management meeting. I think it was really good for everyone. Most of my questions regarding the series of events that lead to Monday’s closing were answered, and I feel a lot better about where the the school, and my future career, is headed. It seems like money is an issue (isn’t that always the root of our problems?), but for the first time in the four years that the school has been in operation, they have a budget surplus. That doesn’t mean health insurance and pay raises are imminent, but they are at least a remote possibility now, rather than completely impossible. I was also intrigued to learn that the school spends $24,000 per year for their lease at the industrial park. That seems rather pricey, especially considering what they get from it. I think there are more child-friendly & curriculum-appropriate locations that could be considered.

On the flipside, as a parent, I felt reassured to know that the school is going to stay open, and that my kid will have not just “somewhere to go”, but a GREAT place to go during the day. Lillia has gained so much from being enrolled there, and I was horrified to think that not only Lil but other children would be missing out. But, things are back under control, and I think tonight’s forum was the start of something really positive.

Gainfully (Un)employed?

August 2007Today was bizarre! It started out relatively normal, with Lil and I running late for work/school. It’s my last week at the magazine.

Crisis struck around 10:45am, in the middle of our monthly sales meeting, when I got a phone call from my daughter’s preschool saying that the staff was “in an uproar”, and that the school was going to have to close for the day. I was annoyed that I would have to find a babysitter, or subject my child to a day at the office. However, it was more than simply mild inconvenience. I am supposed to start working at the preschool on Monday, so having the place shut down would mean two terrible things for me: 1) I would have no job as of Friday, and 2) I would have nowhere to send my child during the day, even if I keep the job I have.

August 2007I zoomed up there the second I hung up the phone, to see exactly how bad the situation really was. The director was visibly upset, but the kids seemed oblivious to any problems. I grabbed Lil and headed back to work, all the while worrying about my employment situation, trying to decide if I should grovel and try to keep my job at the magazine.

By mid-afternoon I couldn’t take the suspense any longer, so I called the director. She seemed relieved to talk to me, reassured me that the school wasn’t closing, and proclaimed that I was to be their “saving angel”. Talk about pressure! I spent two summers of my life working at summer preschool camps, and I have been a mother for almost four years – that is the extent of my child care experience. But, I’m up for the challenge, and the classes at NH Tech will certainly make me feel more qualified. The school has done amazing things for Lillia, and I am honored to have been offered a chance to be part of that process. As far as I know, I still have a job, and my daughter still has a preschool, but I probably won’t feel 100% good about everything until I actually start working.

August 2007Lillia thoroughly enjoyed “Involuntarily Take Your Daughter To Work Day”. She was a horse pretty much all day (she’s almost always an animal…her equine alter-ego is called “Brongo”, but she’s also been “Dallas” and “Cabattaca” – that’s a phonetic spelling). When she wasn’t being “Brongo”, she was volunteering various bits of information about horses, and making various claims about her own abilities as compared to those of horses. She, in no uncertain terms, believes she can run faster than any horse. Her conviction lends itself to a certain degree of authenticity. I think my co-workers were entertained by her shenanigans. She managed to avoid napping, even though I constructed a very inviting bed for her under my desk. Instead, she galloped around the office for a good part of the afternoon, and was relatively content and amiable for most of the day.

Tonight we are both in chill mode. We spent some time in the backyard practicing our soccer skills, ate breakfast for supper, and now she’s watching 101 Dalmations. I am uploading photos and writing this post, and then I’ll probably join her on the couch. There’s nothing like doing nothing.

August 2007