Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Hardest Part is Letting Go

(Ironic that I began this post two days ago, before this post popped up. Must be the season. And she's right, for the record, parenting's totally messed up.)

I think most mothers would agree that letting go of their kids was (or is, or will be for those of you who haven't done it yet) the hardest part of being a mother. Realizing that they need to sink or swim all on their own is terrifying. For years you’ve done it all for them and now it’s their turn. Hopefully you’ve given them the tools they need to get by. Regardless, it’s time for them to stretch their wings and give it a try.

Every other year, give or take, I re-enact this most difficult part of my life to date. True, the “kids” are a bit smaller and the time I get to teach them is a lot shorter – three or so months versus 18 odd years. In some ways these kids are a lot smarter, too. They’ve got the survival instincts of wild animals. They’ve never seen an iPod, or had a cell phone. They don’t even know how to tell time or ask for a raise in allowance (Thank God or I'd be broke). Every 2-3 years I rear up a mess of chicks, grow them until they’re ready to go it on their own, and let them loose on an unsuspecting world (and garden). Sunday night I did just that. 50-odd chicks, who’ve spent their entire lives in a house or behind a fence (except for that one little incident not worth mentioning, that day when I left the door open, and there was yelling and chasing in pajamas and Bog boots and maybe swearing and waving of arms) were let loose on the grass for the first time. And what a time they had.They learned a lot about when it's ok to be on your own and when it's pretty important to stick together. Some of them have names now; Sophie, Egypt and Pet, for example. As they prove who they are, we give them names to match.Beaks chomping on my toes through my Birkenstocks remind me that soon even tougher choices than I ever made with my actual kids will have to be made than "when to let the birds onto the grass". Some of them are showing signs that their true calling lies deep in the recesses of my freezer. We’ve gone about 60% Vegetarian around here. I can’t say we really are, but I can see that we could be if we had to. We’d been eating meat “on weekends”. This week we had meat only once, on Sunday night. Ironically we were grilling chicken while trying to get the chickens back in their house. In the end they all came home to roost, as chickens do, with a little help from Girl and I and Mr. Wonderful. By last night they'd gotten it down pretty well and only needed some light shepherding from Girl and I. Soon they won't need us to do anything more than shut the door behind them.

More moments of letting go are looming on the horizon. This Friday I got a package in the mail that I’ve been both looking forward to and dreading since last January. It’s called “pages”, and it’s the improved version of what I handed over to my editor months ago. Laid out and nearly ready to roll into a bookstore near you.I can say now that I am thrilled to have it here for a little visit. It’s truly grown into a young adult I can really be proud of. There are all sorts of dimensions to it that I never saw before. It's got depth and character. I like it like this, mostly grown up and a little gawky around the edges but still, in it's core, mine. I can hear myself in the language, which is so important to me as a writer and as a teacher, and as a mother too for that matter. I want you, the knitter, to hear me when you read my books. I think you can, thanks to my excellent editors. For one short week we, the book and I, share space. We bond, we spend a lot of time together and then off it goes again back into the hands of others until next we meet again. I will miss it, but I can't wait to see what it looks like all grown up. I hope you love it. I know I already do.

Am I knitting? Yes, of course!A sweater design in progress.
Socks for Gene, nearly finished.
A very fast hat just to give me a feeling of completion.
And a scarf of knitted from yarn hand dyed by Gail. It's very lovely.
Class project samples for finishing classes in Shelburne and Williamstown.

Transitions and the newness they bring can be eased by the knit, I find. My hands are rarely quiet right now. If I am not typing some changes for the book, my fingers are wrapped around needles, methodically knitting without really thinking about it, while my mind races around and around in circles without my even trying; closing up loopholes, rooting out mistakes even when the pages are not in front of me. I think it's fascinating how that works, like the writing itself. Stuck? Knit for a while, and all of a sudden the stuck spot vanishes and everything seems clear.

So there it is, coming in the spring to a bookstore near you. I so hope you like it!


Yarnhog said...

Oh, chicks!

My entire litter of puppies is getting spayed/neutered on Thursday, and at least three of them are going to their new homes Friday. I'm learning new things about letting go.

Gina Murphy said...

I'm so glad I found you! I love to knit, weave, spin AND I have 18 chickens who were to dumb to find their way into their beautiful coop on the first night. That was two nights ago, and we see progress already

tina said...

YAY----- for that thing of cool pages coming in the spring!

Yay---- for chickens who don't move out and come back home only to make you wonder why you had such a hard time letting go in the first place because here you are in the s.o.s. only crazier on a lotta levels.

Do I sound bitter??????