Monday, May 20, 2013

The Flowers of May

by Elizabeth

I've often said whoever put Mother's Day in May was surely playing a sick joke. When my son began preschool, I quickly learned that May is crazy for mothers. Add in the second kid with school, soccer, dance lessons, etc., and it was nothing short of pandemonium. Then with actual school, teacher gifts, end-of-year assemblies, it was simply insane. I don't know how many times I uttered "May!" with disgust as I raced from event to event.

But this year has been different. Which has been a relief, a shock, and to my surprise, has carried a tiny (very tiny) element of mourning along with it.

I still have a lot of the usual stuff, the teacher conference here and there, awards ceremonies to attend at school (hooray!), and that last week of school I'll be cutting up pineapple and strawberries and hauling kids around to end of year parties. But without anyone in a dance class or a play or soccer or softball, this May has been less than frantic. As I stood out in the school field the other day, running a game for "Buddy Fun Day," I mentioned to more than one mother-of-youngers that come middle school, May was maybe not so terrible. (Though maybe it will be for them, if their kid is a multi-sport athlete. We have Tae Kwan Do, and no belt test for a while thanks to the achievement of the black late last year.)
My daughter and friends celebrate another tug-of-war victory.

It was sort of a revelation, and I've taken a moment a couple of times to wonder if this feeling of non-urgency where before had been rush is a little like moments when you finish up portions of a book. Not only wonder: I know. I remember that feeling of relief each time when I "finished" my two completed novels (though they were both revised, and revised, and in one case revised yet again, but that moment nonetheless occurred). I wonder if there's the same moment of "ahh" when it's sent to the publisher with revisions, and again when the galleys are corrected and complete. I hope so. I think probably so. (I should really ask Julie.)

And that's a pretty great feeling.

But so is the rush of May, a reminder of why I had kids in the first place. I didn't have them so I could sit on my rear all day and watch them grow. I'm realistic, and was before conception, to know, even if I didn't really know (because you can't), that it's not an easy road. May, I didn't know about, but each year when it rolled around with all its bustle and angst, I enjoyed it even as I suffered through, because that's a big part of what motherhood is.

And the rush and hurry and work work work is part of being a writer. In the groove, when it's going really well, you can feel that it's working (like when you land on the perfect idea for teacher gifts and think, "Of course!"), and it's a good feeling, busy as it may be. It's satisfying to do the work, get it done, and know at the end you did it well.

Then it's out of your hands, a breath expelled as you send it off into the world for a while, hoping it will come back to you with more work to do to get it further and further out into the world and finally to stand on its own.

There's a reason people think of their books as their babies.

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