Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Letters to Eleanor

I'm always hesitant to make a resolution that involves the word "daily." I'm much more likely to stick to something like "average per month." But I've been kicking around an idea that is a daily thing ... we'll see how it goes.

I want to write letters to Eleanor. To the grown Eleanor, explaining a little bit about what it is to be her mother, a mother, a wife, a hopefully useful member of society. How I'm dealing with trying to be a mother and a teacher and find time for myself, too. I would like to think that it won't feel so incredibly difficult by the time she contemplates being a mother, but I would imagine that she'll face many of the same issues in one form or another.

So I've started writing letters. I'm thinking of ending them all with an "I hope" statement about something I've learned/still am learning about life, and something I hope she finds in her own life.

Of course, whenever I write, the idea of publication is always in the back of my mind. I would love to gather together these letters and publication them as a collection for ... anyone, I guess. I figure that mothers of toddlers would be most likely to feel that these issues and thoughts relate directly to them, but I think they could also relate to anyone who is trying to find some balance in life and figure out who they are and where they want to be.

Here's the rough draft from yesterday. Let me know what you think!

January 3, 2011

Dearest Eleanor,

I love you with all my heart, but I honestly don't understand how you, the center of my world, can drive me so crazy in 5 seconds flat.

You and I are having some boundary issues. You don't see why we need any, and get frustrated when I don't immediately cater to your every whim. I, as I always do, feel guilty for all of the many, many, MANY times throughout the day that I tell you "no." Do I really need to wash this dish right now instead of playing dollhouse? Do I really need to finish one more thing rather than cuddling up with you on the couch and reading together?

What I feel most conflicted about is that I need time for myself. I can accept that meals must be made and cleaned up, shopping must be done, etc. But I feel guilty because the more you hold onto me crying, "Mommy! Mommy!" the more I long for my own time to recharge my energy and patience.

It's the worst when there's someone else around who loves you and wants to be with you, like your Daddy after a long day at work, and you refuse, insisting that I read this book for the 12th time or the doll talks in my hand.

What is this overwhelming need for me? Is it love? Or is it something less noble than that? Am I a piece of furniture, a slave who has no rights of her own, who must always be at her master's beck and call? When you cling to me so vehemently, I never know whether to see you as an extension of my own self, to be embraced, or an emotional vampire who would use me up and suck me dry with no remorse? Your father insists that it's because you love me so much, and we have an amazing relationship, and I am a wonderful mother.

In reality, I think it's a little less than pure love and more than mere vampirism, and I'm okay with that. You do love me and we do have a wonderful relationship and I try very hard to be a wonderful mother to you every day. But also, you are a toddler and then world can be a scary place and I am the anchor you cling to. Sometimes I am your beloved Mommy and sometimes I am a familiar object, a comfortable port in a storm of new sights and overwhelming sensations.

This is good because I don't have to feel guilty that my 2-year-old daughter loves me more / better / more purely than I can possibly love her. It's okay that I occasionally need to put down the weight of your entire world, take it off my shoulders and hand it to someone else so I can replenish my strength.

I hope someday you will also find the joy to be had in solitary pursuits, and you'll understand that I needed time to refill my soul so I could continue being the best mother I could be.


Anonymous said...

This is so beautiful.

And, yes, I think that you should keep in the back of your mind that this could be a collection to be published.

Keep up the good works and have a blessed New Year.

M. Lubbers said...

Thanks so much for the feedback, Anon! You've made my day.