Negative Space

BGM examples_negative space & positive space


I teach fifth grade in a school which focuses on the integration of art into all parts of the curriculum.  Since I have literally no background in the visual arts, I have learned a tremendous amount in my twenty years at our school.

One of the concepts which was introduced to me during my very first year was the idea of  “negative space”.  I learned about negative space when our art teacher passed by my classroom one morning and saw the funny, lopsided little cut-out picture that my then third grade daughter had created to decorate my door.  Honestly, I didn’t think much of it, and found it a little bit crude and messy. But I hung it up because I love my daughter dearly, and I wanted her know it.

I had all but forgotten about the little image until the art teacher stopped in my doorway and exclaimed, “Oh, who made that?  What a great use of negative space!”  I blinked, looked at the funny little cut out, and told her that Katie had done it. “She has such a great eye!”, said Margo.  “I love it.”

She then went on to describe the idea of negative space in art; how an artist can use the part of the image or sculpture that contains nothing to clarify or refine what we see.

Here is another example of how negative space creates the image:


The white part, the negative space, is clearly the most important.

The white part, the negative space, is clearly the most important.

You get the idea, right? It is the absence of color, texture, shape that gives the piece its true image.  The art is created by what is not there.

I have been thinking about this concept for the past week, because I have come to realize that in my empty nest life, summers are my “negative space”.

In my mommy days, summers were the busiest times.  I had my three children, and often their friends, to feed, entertain, clothe, care for.  I had my children to laugh with, to travel with, to shuttle from place to place. There were beach days, and movie days. Zoo trips, hikes, rainy day art projects and “We’re making a fort!” days.  Cookies to bake, ice cream trucks to await, grilled cheese sandwiches and bowls of popcorn and Disney channel marathons.  Every minute was full.

During the school year, of course, every minute was full then, and it is full now.  School days are positive space, there is no doubt.

But summer now is simply negative space.

I try to stay busy, although I know that I am in desperate need of rest after the rigors of the school year. I get together with friends, I visit my Mom.  I teach for a week or two, and I take classes for a week or two.  I plan little projects to do around the house. I give myself a routine to follow; the elliptical every other day, a good long walk with the dogs each morning, gardening most afternoons.  I make a good dinner and enjoy it with Paul when he comes home. We have weekends away with friends and family.

But summer is still mostly negative space.

It is the absences that define me in the summer. There are few demands on my time; no one needs me to be home, to be in the car, to be at the park or the hockey rink.  I am free. I can go wherever I want to go most days.  But with no company, there is no place that calls to me, and I stay home.

It is the absence of voices around me that defines me in the summer.  Some days (not many, thank goodness, but some days) I hear only my own voice from the time Paul leaves to the time when he comes home.  I put on music, or I watch the news, just so that I can hear someone’s voice.  I go to the library or to the farm stand, just to chat for a bit.

Too much negative space.

I’m just smart enough to know that these quiet contemplative days are good for me, but they make me uncomfortable.  I know that the absences impact and shape the image that is “me” right now, just as the negative space in the portrait above lets us see the woman.

Without the negative space, we couldn’t see the woman’s beauty or fragility.

I guess we are all made up of both positive and negative space. We reflect all that we have, and all that is missing.  I guess we have to accept all of the space if we are going to fully appreciate the art.


What if

I hesitate to write this post.

I don’t want to add to the general sense of hysteria out there, on this morning after the acquittal.  But I tossed and turned a lot last night, and I just have one big question that keeps coming to mind.   Just one.

See, I didn’t watch countless hours of the trial on TV, and I didn’t read every word written by every legal “expert”.  I couldn’t.  A seventeen year old boy was dead, and I didn’t want to keep hearing those screams for help, no matter who was screaming.

So I don’t honestly have an opinion on whether the shooter was a racist or not. I don’t know him.   I don’t know if the victim reacted out of fear or anger or frustration when he knew that some “creepy” guy was stalking him.  I don’t know either of them, and I wasn’t there.  I don’t think its right for me to act as if I know what really happened or what motivated either of the people who was actually involved in the tragedy.

But I just have this one question, and I can’t get away from it.

What if the shooter hadn’t had a loaded gun hidden in a pocket?

If the guy wasn’t holding a loaded weapon, I wonder if maybe he would have been smart enough to have stayed in his vehicle, like he was told to do by the police dispatcher?  I wonder if he would have told himself, “This kid looks really dangerous (since that’s what prompted the whole incident, right?)”.  I wonder if he would have thought, “I better stay safe in my car.”  Did that loaded gun give the shooter a sense of power? Did it prompt him to follow a guy who he clearly described as suspicious?

I wonder.

And what if the shooter had had gun, but what if it wasn’t concealed? 

Would the boy have pushed down his anger and frustration over being followed by a creepy stalker, and would the sight of that weapon have prompted him to rush home, instead of standing up to the guy and confronting him?

I wonder.

This was such a senseless, stupid, mindless, wasteful death of a child.  So blindly, mind-numbingly stupid, stupid, stupid.

I don’t know if society, at least at this moment in time, can stop people from having racial prejudices. I don’t know.

And I don’t know if we can stop weak and powerless people from wanting to pump up their own self-image by imitating the macho strengths of the police.  I just don’t know.

I’m not sure that we can stop young men from reacting impulsively to perceived slights/threats/challenges. A developing brain is a developing brain; common sense, it seems, comes slowly to the human species.  I don’t know how we can speed that up.

But I do know that we, as a society, could have prevented this kid’s death.

Until we are finally willing to stand up and say, “It is just plain stupid and dangerous to let average imperfect human beings walk around with loaded weapons hidden on their bodies.”, we are going to have to keep dealing with needless, senseless, wasteful death.

And I just realized that I have another question ringing through my head this morning:

Does that shooter now regret carrying a loaded gun in his pocket?

I wonder.SONY DSC

History as life

As I sit here this evening, writing this post, I feel the breath of history on my neck.

Tonight I realize, maybe for the very first time, how easy it is, and how arbitrary, to become a part of “history”.

My day began in the cold clear air along the Concord River, overlooking the famous North Bridge. We had decided not to try to brave the throngs at the annual reenactment of the Battle of Lexington Green, deciding that perhaps it wasn’t the best decision to get up at 3Am and drive for an hour while half asleep.

Instead, we met some friends and went to the North Bridge, site of the first true battle of the American Revolution. And we watched the actors and listened to the description of what happened on that historic day. As we watched, we talked with our friends about how these huge historic events, events that changed the world, hinged on a second, a moment, the decision of one scared young man. We talked about how strange and surreal it must have been for the families who lived on the hillside above the bridge as they watched the British soldiers marching toward them. As they watched the shots that started the war.

Just as no one knows for sure who fired the first shot on Lexington Green, no one knows for sure who fired first on North Bridge.  Was it one terrified young farm boy, clutching his musket in shaking hands?  Or was it started by a hungry, tired, frustrated soldier, so far away from his home and family? We will never know.

The entire world was changed by those events, but they were carried out by average people, just living their average lives.

This morning I thought about the farmers and their wives and their children, taking part in history, but not thinking about that in the moment. They were thinking, I’m sure, “This can’t be happening to me!”

They woke up on April 19th, 1775, made breakfast and milked their cows.  They must have gone through their usual routines before they found themselves confronted by those British troops. They must have looked at each other, and they must have thought, “This just cannot be real.”

We watched the commemoration of those events. We remembered the people who lived through them. Then we went out to breakfast, we smiled at the beautiful children, and we watched the parade.

And we came home to find the news of the horrific bombings at the Boston Marathon.  The Marathon that we have watched so many times over all these years. The one that was run by some of our friends, and attended by a lot more of them.

We jumped onto Facebook, and Twitter and onto our phones. Through texting and social media, we learned that one of our friends crossed the finish line 20 minutes before the blast.  Another friend was watching right at the finish line.   If he hadn’t gone to Fenway Park yesterday, he would have been seated in the grandstand at the finish line, right in the line of the explosions.

“Way too close for me,” he texted.  As we heard from our friends, and their families, the thought that kept coming up was, “This can’t be happening to me.”

I don’t understand human adults.  I just don’t. I can’t understand the impulse to hurt total strangers, to blow apart the lives of mothers and children and old people.  I don’t understand it.

I know that I don’t ever want to be a part of history.  I don’t want to be in just that spot when the soldiers march up and fire in fear and anger and fatigue. I don’t want to be exactly where the bomb goes off.

Life is short, and precious and very, very fragile.  We can never waste a minute of it, or take any of it for granted.

"By the rude bridge that arched the flood, their flag to April's breeze unfurled. There the embattled farmers stood And fired the shot heard round the world."

“By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
their flag to April’s breeze unfurled.
There the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.”

Searching for detachment

You know how you can get a song stuck on your mind, and it plays over and over and over and over, day and night, no matter how hard you try to erase it?  Well, this is kind of like that.

You know how it is when you have a sore tooth, or a canker sore, or a spot on your cheek where you bit down unexpectedly, and now it is all swollen and painful?  You know how, when that happens, you can’t stop your tongue from prodding and probing and making the pain worse?  Well.  This is just like that.

I can’t seem to let it go. I can’t force myself to stop poking that sore spot, to stop probing the painful, erupting lesion that is the gun violence issue.

See, I’m a teacher.  I’m a mother.  I made a choice almost thirty years ago to dedicate my life to taking care of children.  It’s just what I do.

How can I step back and stop thinking about the threats that face my kids every single day?

I can’t.  So I lie awake in my bed and I poke and I prod and I toss and I turn and I tremble.  I cannot make myself turn it off.

As I try to fall asleep, I find myself arguing with those who declare with confidence that “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”   I find myself shaking my head as it lies on my pillow, and I hear my cry of rage as I try to explain that “People with fucking GUNS kill people!”

I stand under the hot shower spray, trying to relax and get ready for my day. I try to clear my mind, but I can. Not. Do. It.  I can’t disconnect my heart and my brain from the problem that is giving me such pain.  Instead of enjoying the warmth, I stand there in the steamy heat and argue as hard as I can against those who claim that they have a fundamental “right” to carry any weapon they want to carry, no matter who will die because of their choice.

I am sleepless and irritable.  I am impatient and tired and weepy.  My blood pressure needs me to step back.  My crazy arrhythmic heart needs me to detach from the insanity.  I am just an aging fifth grade teacher. I need to let other people fight this fight.

But I can’t do it.

I find myself caught in the amazingly circular illogic of the “gun rights” argument.   I find myself speechless, my jaws agape, my eyes bulging in disbelief as I listen to the arguments of the NRA and its supporters.

I won’t go into all of the nonsense now; I can’t!  My brain will surely explode if I try.  Instead, I will focus on the one unbelievable argument that has kept me spinning for the past two weeks.  Its an argument that I have read on line, heard on talk radio, and seen on TV.  But most incredibly to me, it is an argument that I have heard from some of my closest relations.

It is an argument that has been made to me by people who are former military and who right now work for, wait for it…..

The US Government.

What makes this so shocking?  Well, when I ask the question (over and over and over again) “Why on earth would anyone need a military grade assault weapon whose only purpose is to kill as many people as possible in as little time as possible?”  the answer that I keep getting is that the weapons are necessary “In case the government becomes a tyrannical dictatorship who intends to take away all of our rights!  We must rebel! We must fight back!”

Uh.  You mean you intend to use your weapon to murder government agents? Like, your colleagues in the government? Your gonna kill them?

You mean that you plan to rise up and use violence to oppose laws with which you disagree?

Scuse me?  How is this not domestic terrorism?   How is this not criminal?

How is it that every single government official isn’t standing right up in their tax-payer -supported seats and shouting out, “Hey! If you threaten to kill government officials, you are EXACTLY the kind of people who we all agree should never have weapons!”

How the hell is this kind of talk even allowed?

I don’t get it.

So I stay awake all night trying to wrench it all into a shape that makes some kind of sense.

A few years ago my children, all young adults, joined in the Occupy Wall Street movement.  They went to New York, they held up some poorly painted cardboard signs, and they walked across the Brooklyn Bridge.  Traffic was slowed down, and the marchers all got arrested. As in, “sent to jail for walking across the bridge.” Some of the people who observed this activity accused my non-violent, chanting, singing children of being “unpatriotic”.  They said, “If you don’t like this country, why don’t you leave?!”

Now we have thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of citizens who state publicly that they fully intend to use their weapons to mow down any federal agent who tries to enforce any law that they deem to be “tyranny”.

I notice that they are not being arrested. They are not being called “unpatriotic”, although I can’t imagine anything less patriotic than what they are screaming.  They are not being put on watch lists, or “you shouldn’t have a gun because you’re a threat” lists.  They aren’t being told to “leave” even though they clearly fear and hate the country in which they live.

So I don’t get it.

I can’t stop tossing and turning and poking my tongue into the wound that was left after Tucson and Aurora and Sandy Hook.  I try, but I can’t let it go.

See, I am not particularly afraid of my government.

But I am scared to death of the people who want to use 800 rounds from their Bushmasters to express their political opinions.

Where is the public outcry?

They trust me.

I was teaching my class about parts of speech.  We were looking at some of the wonderful books by Roald Dahl, and laughing about how cleverly he could depict his villains. He made them so richly detailed and wonderfully horrible that we felt as if we could hear their voices “like thunder”.  We could see their “massive thighs” and “bull necks”.  The kids were sharing favorite descriptions of witches, giants and cruel adults, showing each other passages from the books they had just completed.

My cell phone buzzed in my pocket, but I ignored it as I focused my energy on the shining faces before me.

After a few minutes, the children settled in to do some writing of their own, so I took a minute to read my text.  “Another school shooting. Check the news.”  I scanned the classroom, where the only sound was pen on paper and the crinkle of snack bags as the kids worked to create their own villain descriptions.

I sat at my desk, and clicked to CNN on-line.  The horror of the day unfolded before me.  And I was swept with grief, and flooded with rage, and shaking with fear, all in the span of a few racing heartbeats.

Again?  This has happened to us again?! I fought back my emotions, swallowed past the ache in my throat, and lifted my gaze to my students. One little boy caught my eye and grinned, then returned to his task. A little girl laughed, smoothing her shining red-gold hair behind her ear.

The kids went off to lunch, and to recess, laughing and eating and playing together in the sunshine.  I stood at the window of my classroom and watched.

You see, it is my job to take care of those children.  To nurture them and teach them and to keep them safe while they are in my care.

But I can’t!  Dammit.   I can’t keep them safe.

And I know it.

I know that any day of the week, any hour of the day, some angry, bitter, twisted person can walk right in the door and raise a gun and simply blow us all away. There will be nothing I can do.

And that breaks my heart, and makes me so enraged that I don’t know what to do.

Someone out there, someone who has stumbled on this blog, maybe someone who believes in so called  “gun rights”, please explain to me how you can still think it is reasonable for people to walk around carrying assault weapons?

Don’t tell me about the Second Amendment. Just don’t.  If you speak English at all, you know that the words of that clause don’t say a thing about the right of one individual to own a gun.  “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”   You want to join a well regulated militia? Fine.  Just get the semi-automatic weapons out of your closet.

And don’t you dare to tell me that if only more people were armed, these things wouldn’t happen. You can’t possibly believe that putting guns into the hands of kindergarten teachers is really going to keep children safe.  You are not going to tell me that now I need to carry an armed weapon in my pocket while I teach kids how to do long division.

I don’t want to hear about individual rights, or freedom, or personal liberty, either.  The rights of adults who want to feel macho in the face of a scary world do not trump the rights of my students to learn and grow without fearing for their lives.

If we don’t stand up right now, and force this so called government of ours to outlaw and confiscate all those assault weapons, then we will all have ourselves to blame when the next inevitable mass murder happens at the movies, or the mall.

Or in my classroom.

Just crabby.

Feelin’ like a crab.

I swear, I just don’t know what’s wrong with me.  Why am I such a crab?

I came into the weekend feeling really, really exhausted.  The stupid election, the stupid snowstorm, the stupid stupid professional development day meetings.  Gah!

It has been two weeks of parent conferences, too, and that’s really enough to wipe me out.  I like talking to the parents of my students, and getting insight into what the kids think and feel. I love to share what I have learned about the children, too, because I feel like I’m pretty good at understanding them.

But conference time means getting to school way before sunrise and leaving way after dark, with no quiet moments in between.  Phew.  Tiring!

But I took Friday off, and I slept almost 11 hours! Today is Saturday, and I woke up feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed (what a strange phrase……). I woke up feeling plenty cheery! I did!

This morning I finished a whole bunch of school work, cleaned the house, did laundry and shopped.  Then I baked a double batch of brownies and plopped on the couch. Turned on TV and watched two old movies while sipping a nice cup of herb tea.  Ahhhhh.

So.  Why am I such a crab right now?

Well, because both of the movies involved adults feeling sad because they have to say goodbye to kids.  “Overboard” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” aren’t your traditional tearjerkers, but they both pulled my heart right down. Sad moms! Sad dads! Sad kids!  Boohoooo!  Even though the families are reunited at the end of both movies, I still feel like I really need a good long cry.


I’m weird, too, and I’m not being even a little bit logical today!  The thing is, we saw Tim on Thursday night, and had a great time taking him and some friends out for dinner.  I got to hug him, look at him, hear his voice, tell him I love him.  We talked about Thanksgiving, when he’ll be home overnight to eat and celebrate.

I’ve been chatting with Matt about a visit that he has planned to go see my Mom on Thursday. And today I found out that both Kate and Matt will be able to be home for the Thanksgiving holiday, too  I didn’t think they would make it, but it turns out that they can.  Hoorah!

So why am I a crab?

Because I want them here right now, in this house, laughing and goofing off while I make dinner.  I want their voices and their mess and their stuff.

I can’t wait for Thanksgiving dinner. I want to cook NOW.

I’m such a crab.

Six sentence Sunday?

I have seen this idea, the “Six Sentence Sunday” on several blogs lately.

I don’t really understand it, or know how to play this particular game.

But here is my attempt to comply, as I do my best to reflect on my feelings at this moment in time.

“My baby girl has come home from her latest creative adventures.  She is safe and whole and happy.   I stayed up far too late last night, awaiting her safe arrival on home turf.  Why am I so incredibly lucky and blessed to have my three children safe and whole and unhurt here within the borders of my loving arms?  I can’t begin to know why mine are the prayers that have been answered.  I only know that I have not earned this special blessing.”

I am so happy to have children who are willing to explore the world, and who are happy to learn and grow and discover new ideas and beliefs.  I am so blessed, and so inexplicably lucky to have children who have lived long enough to grow up, to see the world, to find new answers to those age old questions. I am so lucky, so very, very lucky, to be one of the mom’s who follows “flight tracker” until the happy moment when my baby child lands safely back in her nest.

It takes a village

You all know the old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Well, tonight I am realizing just how true that cliche really is, and how much more there is to the story than simply the raising of the child.

About 15 years ago, I met a sweet young kindergarten teacher. She was gentle, thoughtful, very beautiful, and she possessed an innocence of spirit that made this older woman want to hold her close and help her through the struggles of public school teaching.   She and I worked together with many children, she as the classroom teacher, me as the speech/language specialist and special education connection.

I remember watching her mature, watching as she learned the ropes and developed her skills in teaching and in meeting with anxious parents.

And I remember, so clearly, one Valentine’s morning.  I was in her classroom to help with a reading lesson.  Suddenly, a group of men stood in the doorway, wearing black vests and bowties.  The tallest of them, sporting a wicked grin and an armful of long-stemmed red roses, said, “Dave sent us to serenade you!”  The four men came into the room, arranged themselves around the little tables filled with cut out paper and crayons, and began to sing.  The lush harmonies of a barbershop quartet competed with the giggles of delighted five year olds, and the teacher stood motionless in blushing beauty.

I remember when her sweetheart (another of my colleagues) proposed, and she accepted. I remember seeing photos of their wedding.

And I can clearly remember when they announced that they were expecting their first child.  She was still the kindergarten teacher, and he was teaching phys ed, keeping the hordes of active children in check with his firm, calm, gentle hand. All of us at school were delighted for them! It was such a sweet story, and we all basked in its warmth.

I remember meeting that sweet first born girl shortly after her birth, and I remember my pleasure when I found out that she was going to be a big sister.

When the second daughter was born, I remember attending an end-0f-year party with the parents and both little girls. I can recall, so clearly, shooing the parents into the back yard to relax a bit and to let their toddler play while I held the sleeping infant girl in my arms. I remember her smell, the softness of her golden hair.  I remember the laughs, at my expense, when other teachers called me “Nonni-wannabe” and teased me about my skills as a baby rocker extraordinaire.

I remember the shock that I felt three years ago when we were told that the younger child, the sweet golden haired baby, had been diagnosed with leukemia. I remember the sorrow, the helplessness, the prayers.

I wished on falling stars for her recovery. I picked four-leaf-clovers.  I prayed, I sang, I tried to make bargains with God.

With all of my colleagues, and with all of the friends and family and neighbors of this young family, I baked and made suppers. We raised money to help defray the terrible costs, we donated gift cards, we wrote checks.  We hoped, we offered encouragement, we engaged in every kind of magical thinking.

For three long, long, years this family has fought the good fight against a vicious and insatiable disease.  That little girl and her Momma were away from home for over a year, trying everything to keep her alive. Her big sister and her cat and her Dad stayed at home, working to keep the home fires alight.

For three terrible, deceitful years that poor little kid underwent every possible treatment to defeat her awful foe.  She struggled, she fought, she kept going against all odds. By all accounts, she kept on laughing, kept on demanding, kept on living as long as she possibly could.

Last night, after so much pain and so much suffering, her little seven year old body could take no more, and she succumbed.

How do we make sense of such a thing?  What can we possibly say to explain how such an unfair and unwarranted event could be allowed to happen? Where is God? What is he thinking? Where is the plan? What purpose was served here?

I have no words to put meaning to what this loving, kind, generous family has had to endure.

What I am left with is this: Every day is a gift.  Every child is a blessing.  Every life is worth everything.  We must all take care of each other, every day.  And in honor of this brave, strong warrior of a girl, we owe it to all of the children on earth to fight as hard as we can to ensure that they live well for every minute that is granted to them.

It takes a village to raise a child. And it takes a village to mourn a child, and to comfort and support those who are left behind by the loss of that child.

In honor of Meg,  3/25/05-7/4/12

Those were the days….

I made a terrible tactical error today.

I was well on the way to recovery this summer, well on the way. I was so over that whole     “postdepartum” thing, you know?  Empty nest syndrome? Pah!

I was doing really, really well.  Kayaking with friends, taking nice long dog walks.  Gardening, reading, going to the beach, enjoying quiet dinners with Paul.

Well on the way to recovery, that was me!

But, you see, one of my annual summer chores is to organize closets and deal with all the photos that have accumulated over the year.  I tell myself that I can’t do these things during the school year because I’m such a busy, busy lady!  I put chores like these off until the lovely, restful days of summer.

So this morning I gathered up a big pile of pictures, and a few photo albums. My thought was that there might be room in some of the albums for me to store the new pictures. Not very organized, I know, but at least its better than the old shoebox storage technique.

I grabbed the first album, popped it open, and fell into the abyss.

Like a punch to the chest.  Like falling off a ladder and landing hard.  I had the breath knocked right out of me.

There they were, my beautiful, smiling children, arms entwined, laughing at the camera.  Page after page of special moments: beach trips, camping trips, blueberry picking, amusement parks. Sunburned little noses, and gap toothed grins. Sun hats, baseball caps, visors and bike helmets.  Every happy summer moment of the past, captured in beautiful color, right there in my hands.

I leafed carefully through every page, remembering each special moment, each funny adventure.  I scanned most of the best pictures, saving them on line so that I will never lose them.  I cleaned out the closet, put the albums back, wiped my eyes and blew my nose.

It was just a setback, OK? Tomorrow I’ll be back on that cheery road to the future, on my way to full recovery.

Sure I will.

What I wish for….

I have been spending a fair amount of time lately with young colleagues and the children of close friends, all of whom are working mothers of little ones.  I hear them lamenting the intensity of the pressure that they feel to be great Mom’s, great wives, housekeepers, cooks, cleaning ladies, soccer cheerleaders. Many of them wish, desperately and aloud, for “one day to myself!”

I hear them.  Man, I remember, so well, when my one true desire in life was to have an entire afternoon without having to meet anyone’s needs.  A few hours of blissful silence in which I might daydream, listen to music, nap, eat cookies, paint my toenails bright red.  That isolation and solitude sounded like Heaven to me in those days, when I was scrambling to keep up with the demands of a husband and three kids while teaching other people’s children all day.

I remember that wish.

Now I find myself at home on a beautiful Sunday, all alone to do whatever I would like.  Paul is away on a hike with a friend.  He was away overnight last week with our kids, and will be away all of next weekend hiking with two of our oldest friends. I’m happy for him! Mostly.  In the old days, the thought of an entire weekend home alone was absolutely paradise.  I would have been packing his bags and making his lunch……

But this is now.  This is the life of the empty nest.  This is the second Sunday with me home alone. The dogs and I took a nice long walk.  I made my breakfast and enjoyed it over the Sunday paper.  I did some gardening and weeding, washed the floors, threw in a load of laundry.  I read for a while, made some bread, worked on some ideas for the next to last week of school.

Everything is neat and clean.  Everything is done.

I am sitting on the sofa, counting the minutes until Paul comes home so I will have someone to talk to.

I miss the demands that came with being the Mom.  I miss the action, the noise, the need, the endless list of things that I needed to do.  I miss my usefulness.

And that, my friends, is the key to my current distress.  I have a great job, good friends, a loving family.  I read, I write, I bake, I garden.  But I can’t seem to find anything in life that makes me feel useful, in the primal way that motherhood made me feel it.

“Be careful what you wish for.”

I think I’m having too much of a good thing.