It’s a few days late for this month in review, but what does time even mean anymore? July is the weekend of summer. Even now, especially now, July feels etched in my memory both dabbed in watercolor, hazy and sprawling and drawn with Sharpie, angular and indelible.
July was a time of online camps for my kids, and of trying to find outdoor activities that don’t give me the heebie-jeebies or put me on high alert. It was a time for creative celebrations of July 4, long leisurely meals on the deck, and regularly going out to watch the sunset in all its glory. These all sound a lot better right now than they actually were at the time.
Like many of you, my greatest preoccupation in July was in making difficult decisions about the kids returning to school, and supporting the same decisions as they are made, wrenchingly and with absolutely no sense of ease, by my friends for their own children and/or for their own careers.
While gaming out all of the possibilities, focus was still on trying to be The Nearly Everything to the children. No need to let me know that this is what having kids is all about or that I should have considered a pandemic when I got pregnant. You can go stand in a corner of that swamp over there with the rest of the You’ll Miss This Someday folks, who are currently Zooming with the What an Honor it is to be a Parent Committee on who gets to sing which verse of “The Greatest Love of All.”
With the heartache, angst, and uncertainty of living in a pandemic, pandemic parenting, a pandemic writing – one helluva stew – I’m not surprised that my creative work slowed down considerably. It’s hard to focus. It’s hard to joyfully create. It’s hard to non-joyfully create. But we keep trying to create, each in our own way, even if it’s just a tweet or a sandwich or a complete sentence or space for our loved ones.
We’re allowed to get ourselves gold stars for effort in the July of a pandemic.
In July when things big and small clogged my writing, I thought about home: what home means, what makes a good home, all the possibilities, all the symbolism. My home, I finally accept, is not here and right now although it is definitely who I am with. What will my children consider home in five or 10 or 15 years? Will this part of their life felt like home beyond structure and place?
Part of parenting this moment – in other moments as well, but certainly this one – is that we parents are home for these children in every sense of the phrase. My body is a home, my heart is a home, my embrace is a home, my words, my love, my exasperation, my time.
I am their home.
I was their home from the beginning and for better or worse will be some version of it, some imprint, for their lives.
And while in the coming months my foundation will probably crack and settle, and maintenance will be necessary, I will be home. I will be their home.
Doors are flung open, doors are gently shut, some of them locked. But the idea of home is revealed throughout this pandemic in ways it has not been revealed, for those working from home, schooling from home, or working outside of it. The enormity of it is profound and exhausting and we all have our stories.
- I re-read Stephen King’s On Writing, which is a classic for good reason.
- I’m in the middle of four books right now, which is normal for me, but I am struggling to read much these days, which is not normal for me. I’m unable to focus on plots, but when I find a great sentence I read it over and over, wanting to sear it into my brain. Maybe I should just call it “doing reps” and feel like it’s exercise rather than an inability to, you know, read. I’m treating that with grace, though. There’s a lot on our minds, isn’t there?
- As mentioned my writing is going very slowly, probably for the same focus reason. I think as a nation we are traumatized.
- August was when I’d hoped to get the book into a beta-reader’s hands. I am barely getting started again. It’s demoralizing and I fight the obnoxious demons who like to organize like a demented cheerleader squad to tell me how untalented I am each day that goes by and I’m mid-muck.
- Demented demon cheerleaders are the worst.
- But I’m also paying attention to my process. For this book, where I generally have an entire draft (or four), I am feeling I need to slow down and get each chapter right until moving on to the next one. After that, a final sweep, then give it to the betas. Or maybe give to betas after getting each act into place. That’s a decision best left to a long car ride.
- I’ve been using these questions to start and end my day, and I have to say they work (as long as I do not get bogged down in dozens of questions.)
- This haunting video is from a talented teen and I think speaks to the teen/tween experience, but I sure could relate as someone well beyond that phase of life.
- As teachers are now being used once again as lightning rods for all of society’s ills, this hit home.
- And if you are so inclined, you can read my piece in HerStories