I am struck of late by the intersection of passages in maternal life. I don’t know if this is because I got pulled into a FB event that represents the real time event of my high school reunion, or because I am resonating with my son’s newly embarked upon navigation of high school, or because my daughter is setting up house in her new apartment, or because I am gearing up for my one-woman writing retreat next week, or because of my own personal struggles with adopting ways to ‘get zen,’ as I like to say, ways that are proving more and more elusive these days . Perhaps it’s a combination of all of these. Or something else all together. But passages are on my mind.
I’m thinking about my passage from former lives to later ones . About why it is that I really have no interest at all in going to my high school reunion. I wondered if this makes perfect sense or if I am having “issues” with being seen by or reconnecting with folks from those days. I’m very much a person who moves on. I don’t keep ties to the past much at all. I did have a great time in high school, truly. But I don’t care to relive it. I recently posted on FB a pic of the mall storefront of Forever XXI, and commented that it was probably the worst idea ever. I loved being 21 and had a blast. I wouldn’t go back to it if I could. So my interest in leaving the past in the past is consistent but I wondered if it would be a healthy memory I ‘d be creating by going to this reunion. So I stalked the reunion’s FB page. My high school was a deeply religious, private school and I’m so far away from deeply religious that I can’t imagine finding any common ground with most of those folks. We may have all moved from where we were, but I’m betting, based partly on the indoctrination practices of the school and partly on the FB posts, that some of us have moved more radically than others. Besides, I was such a different person then. I feel like I was flailing in my late teens and even early twenties, and I don’t feel that way now. I prefer to reside in this space. And maybe I am having stupid issues about being seen. Sheesh.
I’m thinking about passages into her twenties that my daughter, who is so excited to have her own place and her own kitchen and her own washer & dryer (even if old and used enough to cost $200 for the set), is going through. I had flashes of scenes from, I think, Mona Lisa Smiles, where one character had a rather sad thrill about her new washer and dryer. Of course it constituted much of the center of her life, which is the case with neither me nor my daughter, but still I was pulled between sharing her thrill of not having to deal with aundromats or doing clothes at mom’s, and how strange a discussion seems between two feminists that feels anything like “Yay! I love my washing machine!” (Truth be told, I actually do love my washing machine; it has such a great ringer on it that it practically dries clothes too. And I am jealous about those new colored ones that stand so tall. But anyway).
I’m thinking about the passage that is to be my journey up into the mountains of North Carolina for my one-woman (plus dog) writing retreat I’ll be embarking upon next week. About how much I really and truly need some time alone, about how much I really and truly need to get the writing done for my two performances on motherhood that I’ll be doing at conferences this October and November, about how much I need to cut off from work. I’m hoping too that the trip will create some passage into a zenner space that will help to sustain me once the academic year ramps up again. I’m hoping to pass through to some new ways of viewing my life, motherhood, and maternal theory.
And finally I’m thinking about the passages I’ve written over the last year, about how they have helped me think and explore maternal identify and life and love in ways I’d have missed if I hadn’t committed to writing regularly for the Museum of Motherhood. I’m thinking too about the ways in which the writing has opened up space for dialogue and solidarity between me and my mother readers, about how confessional and cathartic and sense-making blog writing can be. And about maternal narrative offers up passage through the rough terrain of the institution of motherhood.