Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Slant of Sun

Lola is in the tub with Ever down the hall, singing ' if you're happy and you know it ' and Ever is soaking wet and grinning and I know this because every time I check, I see the two of them, buck naked and splashing with their eyes glued to each other, singing. 

if you're happy and you know it
your face will surely show it

Life is so, so full. I have never been this busy, not even when I was a young single mother with Dakota, working with him by my side at preschool all day, going to class at night. There weren't three other children, a husband, a writing career, a blog, two dogs... This life is for real. It's grabbed me by the tits and won't let go. When I wake at the crack of dawn to the kids, the house, dog shit on the floor, a day ahead of me lined with corridors of work and dog hair and dinner and .... I think you asked for this. how do you like it? 

I remember how I forget the aching void. Before them. There is not a second to myself in the day unless i fight tooth and nail for it, and sometimes, there isn't a second anyhow. I was sitting on the toilet yesterday, head in hands, exhausted, a cliche of magnitude that I couldn't have borne when I was younger and way DIFFERENT than everyone; my hair long with a knot in the back, underneath, sweatshirt with avocado stains from baby's lunch, pits stinky because I forgot deodorant, dashing out of the house at seven am with three kids, worked all day, came home pulled down my pants and underwear my body went rebel and unloaded my period on the carpet, then waddling jeans around ankles, leaving crime scene evidence behind me for the three steps it took until I slapped my ass on the toilet lid and put my head down. And laughed. Almost cried. But I laughed.

You can't appreciate most anything until you lose it. You can appreciate it. But you can't appreciate it. Human beings are built this way. I liked my free time before. I enjoyed movies, books, silent moments lying in a slant of sun on the cotton sheets of my bed after being royally fucked by my one true love, eating a bagel in a coffee shop, listening to music without voices in the background, reading a paper, long hot baths, foreign films, hours to write in peace, ah. Ah. But I have never ached for peace and quiet in my bones like I do sometimes now, with four children.  There are moments when I feel if one more person asks me a question, I am going to tear my hair out and run screaming down the street, and all the neighbors will say how I never fit in, anyway. Moments, hours, where my skin tingles with nervous vibration, so overstimulated with touch, touch, touch. Mornings where the questions and whining and complaining and even singing are so overwhelming that I understand why small children bang their heads on walls when they are overstimulated.

And then I remember what I forget. How deeply meaningful life is, how much I look forward to silence and books and music and movies and my husband because of how abundantly, ridiculously, miraculously overflowing my heart and soul are with the lives and love of our children.  Because of them, I understand better the riches all around me now: the importance of individual human beings and their lives. How much less time I spend thinking now about 'the meaning of life' because I am too busy living in it. How I fall asleep and wake without that hollow feeling that was before my constant companion, but instead with the steady satisfaction that a meaningful life gives.  How I have laughed harder and longer over a two year old's escapades than I did stoned in high school. How the endless sacrifice and hard work are building my character. I have always wanted to be a hard worker, an unselfish, generous, loyal, unconditionally loving person; I guess I expected this to happen through divine intervention. Instead, it's happening through mothering my children. The work of becoming a better human being in the context of other human beings is not a desk job. It is blue collar work- it is ten hour days, seven days a week, put your boots on and take off your earrings. The baby will probably rip them out if you don't.  

And then I remember what is most important- I remember how I actually feel, all the time, the river that runs through it: I feel happy. I am so deeply happy, so entrenched in the solid ground of my family, that sometimes, I have to hear my children singing 

if you're happy and you know it
your face will surely show it

before I realize that I am happy, and I had forgotten what happiness was. Being of use and necessary to others, sharing laughter and appreciation of life's offerings, losing yourself in the work of life, feeling loving and loved.  Surface emotions flicker across life like fish scales on the ocean top.  You squint, focus on them, and they are soon gone. The fatigue, irritation, over-stimulation and constant motion of this work distracts me: but what lies beneath is the same slant of sun I miss on the cotton sheets of my bed: the happiness of love. 

Ashley said...

This whole post resonates with me. But this? "I have always wanted to be a hard worker, an unselfish, generous, loyal, unconditionally loving person; I guess I expected this to happen through divine intervention."


Elizabeth said...


Evangeline said...

Wow. I may have to print this one out and tape it to the wall. You nailed it Maggie.

lulumarie said...

Your amazing writing has made me fall in love with you and your family. Your explanation of happiness is the best I've ever read. I agree that most humans don't appreciate what we have until we lose it ~ you are the beautiful exception to that truth, Maggie May.

I'm Katie. said...

What truth and goodness.

Chante said...

I have been sucked into your blog since "January Kill". I look forward to checking and seeing what you are writing about everyday. Thank you for sharing.

Petit fleur said...

It's good to hear you are happy! I feel like winter is finally over... We are having a really strange, and lovely spring.

Much love,

Caroline said...

Exactly, Maggie. Exactly.

You seem happy and that makes me happy. Laughter is always the best medicine, I say. Especially with a large crew like we both have. xo and love to you.

Heather@ That Uncomfortable Itch said...

I had to put my head down on the desk and cry after reading this. Tonight the ache for peace and quiet in the hollows of my bones is a screaming pain. I'm going to cry a bit more, wait for the teen girl to get over her fury at me before I remember how divine they truly are.

krista said...

yes. for some reason i always think that happiness is going to be something that happens once i am someone else. the person i always wanted to be. as though the person i am will suddenly cease to exist and i will become the picture perfect version of everything i always wanted.
oh, how i squandered that free time i used to have.
(but did i? because it sure didn't feel like it at the time.)

Anonymous said...

This is how I feel too! Pretty cool Maggie - I love your writing

Maggie May said...

Heather I have those days too, those nights, too. Sometimes we feel so small and so incapable of doing what is necessary in the face of xxx- whatever it is, whining, complaining, screaming, mean words, attitude. But when you love them so deeply and try very hard, it is enough.

Maggie May said...

Chante thank you for telling me that! I'm glad you are here and reading. Look forward to hearing more from you "_"

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