In the Toilet

Well, my month of blogging every day is pretty much in the toilet. I’m not beating myself up over it, I just feel a bit sheepish. But the point of this space is honesty and accountability, right? So here I am, being honest and accountable. I’ve been feeling sick the last few days, both a cold and my period hitting me with a one-two punch yesterday. All I’ve wanted to do is sleep. And I have been doing a lot of that, when I can.

I have still been writing daily, just not here. I’ve been writing with my two-week writing group, a ten minute prompted freewrite every day. There are some beautiful, brave women in this group. I read their free writes and in awe, I think: “this is your first draft?” And I feel small and insignificant but the point is just to write in spite of the inner critic, and I’ve been doing that, at least.

If I were to attempt a daily poetry practice, as I’ve been contemplating these past few weeks, I would have to make provisions for sickness and for monthly cycles. I would have to be sure to honour myself when my mind is foggy, find a way to still come to the page without much pressure on those days. Ten minute free writes are good, manageable. It’s something to think about, or maybe I should just leap and trust the net of inspiration will catch me.

We’re off to Vancouver for a two nights, to take both the boys to see specialists at the children’s hospital (for routine things that we just can’t do in the territory). I will try to make my way here over the next few days. I’m not promising anything, though.



As I went through his things this morning, writing his initials: A.M. on the tags of his coat, his hat, his mittens, his boots, his backpack, his blue plastic cup, it really hit me that this is who he is. He is A.M. Different from the other kids. Different from me. I am T.B. And today, his first day in Kindergarten, he begins moving away from me, from my sphere of control, from my ideas about who he is and who he should be. He begins to move into himself, begins to occupy his own life more fully. He’ll do things I know nothing about. He’ll learn things that I didn’t teach him. He’ll say his own name and ask the names of others. And this doesn’t scare me. I am so ready for this.

And here I am: T.B. Moving into my own life a little bit more, feeling more space opening up for myself, my dreams. More air for me to breathe. More silent moments for me to slip into. This writing today and the writing I’ve been doing each day this month, is a part of it, a part of moving forward. A part of my claiming, my reclaiming of what is mine and not-mine. The clouds reflect in the glass tabletop where I sit to write; the sky is lightening and, also, still grey. It is in transition as I am.

It strikes me that transition, this particular transition that has begun today or perhaps was begun weeks ago, is much like the quality of the days at this time of year, this far north. These shortened northern days are one long sunrise that fades into sunset a few hours later. It is a transition with blurred edges. No edges. It’s muted pinks and greys and mauves, it is always beginning and always ending, too. He has always been going to kindergarten and I have always been sitting at this table writing and writing. He has always been A.M. and I have always been T.B. and here we are, here we’ve always been in the indirect light of this winter day. He’s always been both mine and not-mine, always spinning closer and further away from me and I’ve always been doing the same, spinning closer and further from my self.

I sit here and write myself into the perpetual transition of the day, the dark morning fading to light fading to the dark night again. The sun rising and setting, so low on the horizon that soon we won’t see it over the hills that surround this river valley. He’ll go to school in the dark, he’ll come home from school in the almost-dark. I’ll write in the light, in the dark, in the dips and silences of the day. I’ll write my way closer as he explores further and further away. And then, before I know it, the other two will spin off on their own trajectories; are already spinning off on their own trajectories. We’ll all orbit one another and the light will rise and fall.

Mama Magic

When I was in my teens, I went through a witchcraft phase. I have a feeling I’m not alone in this. I would watch The Craft over and over on our pirated Pay Per View. I read books and websites about Wicca. I formed a short-lived coven with a couple of friends: we’d go into the woods in our neighbourhood and cast our little spells to have our crushes return our affections. I dreamt of growing up to have a little cabin in the forest, herbs drying in the rafters. I imagined people would come to me for simples and spells. I’d be weird and a loner and I’d have power.

I’ve got the cabin in the woods, and sometimes there are even the drying herbs…but my power is one I never imagined for myself. It’s the power to soothe a crying babe with my voice alone. The power to heal a hurt with a kiss. When I gave birth to my first child, I was bestowed this strange power without even knowing it or ever asking for it. These children are enthralled with me, and I with them. They are my familiars, or perhaps I’m theirs.

There is a swirling flow of energy between the 4 of us; it feels impossible to break. The sour mood of one will affect the others until we’re all triggered, brooding under a dark cloud. But I have the power to dispel the cloud. I am the one who ultimately sets the tone. They look to me for their cues in our daily ritual. Each morning, I cast the circle we all dance in, I invoke the course of our day. If one didn’t get enough sleep, is lashing out, and the others retaliate, it’s for me to choose how it will go. Will I be triggered, too, and curse us all? Or will I be the benevolent one, choosing to remain steady through the storm? If I can manage to be the calm center, slowly I pull them back into me for shelter. I weild this power in the face of the powerlessness that comes with trying to navigate life with 3 very different, still developing little humans. It’s power over myself and my own reactions.

The rest of it, the power to heal with a kiss, the power to invite sleep with my presence alone, is all an illusion. It was those babies who bestowed on me this magic as each was born. And they’ll take it away as they grow older and leave our circle. It feels too big, sometime, too heavy, their intense need of me, of my body and my physical presence. But it’s transitory, I have to remember that when the need becomes overwhelming. At the end of these early years, they’ll comfort themselves, fall asleep in their own beds whispering their own secret stories, and what will I have left? Just the memory of magic, faded like dried herbs in a dusty glass jar.



Image via Flickr user Gabriel Roja Hruska