This post has been updated with an extra link.

I’m not writing as much these days. Never in my life have I been so spent by the day’s end. Mothering has brought into focus for me what is real and what matters. It burns off all that is extraneous. Being used so completely simplifies my options. I must choose what matters, what merits my precious little free time and energy.

But it’s not just how I spend my free time. This has affected my thinking as well. Once upon a time I would ponder past experiences and relationships. I felt compelled to think about why certain relationships I’m in have unfolded the way they have. I psychoanalyzed. I looked for meaning. I rehashed the past — the injustices done, the abuse experienced, the chances lost.

One day I was in the shower and I began to think of a family member with whom I’m estranged. As I waded into my thoughts I had a realization: none of this matters now. The circumstances of how it came to be don’t matter to Claire. She is not me. The pain I experienced growing up and in my early adult life will not be her pain. In order to give her a free life, her own life, I must release my past so I don’t confuse her life with mine. It doesn’t matter anymore if so-and-so treated me badly, and it doesn’t matter how his life experiences shaped him so that he treated me thusly. It doesn’t matter if someone else’s relationship affected me immensely growing up. What matters is how Husband and I relate to one another as spouses and parents. What matters is how I respond to the challenges Claire will face, and how I help her to navigate them. What matters is being here now, keeping company with my daughter as she encounters life. This requires letting go of the past, returning constantly to what’s in front of me. With regard to the broken relationship, I can either attempt to reconnect with this person or I can drop it. Life is too precious to waste on ruminating about it.

I used to need to tell my story. And sure, someday maybe I will. But I’ve got something so much more important and fulfilling to attend to: my life, and my daughter.

Basically, Karen wrote about this last week and then again today; she says it so much better than I.

So, you wonder, what do I do with my free time? After chores (laundry, cleaning, prepping Claire’s food, putting away toys, etc.) I’ve been knitting. I read when I can focus mentally. I doodle. I try to make art. I get a good night’s sleep. I’ve been thinking about writing this post for several weeks, and tonight I forced myself to do it. The more aware Claire becomes, the less important blogging and the Internet is to me. I’ll still be around. Just a little more scarce.
My first mother’s day was sweet. I received snail mail cards, e-cards, phone calls, gifts. Husband cooked a steak dinner for me with corn on the cob and macaroni and cheese. Since Claire now naps in her crib, I got a chance to go knit with my friends who own a yarn shop. And then I had a nap!

Explore posts in the same categories: Humanities, Journal, Motherhood, Social Science

4 Comments on “Relevance”

  1. Eden Says:

    You have free time? What’s that like? 😉

  2. Kathryn Says:

    Oh, you mean the 30 minutes before I fall into bed unconscious at the end of the day? It’s a blur. I’m lucky if I can knit two rows or read two sentences. 🙂

  3. Karen Says:

    I can see how much your heart has grown, and it makes me smile many times over.

  4. la peregrina Says:

    kathryn, thanks for sending me over to Karen’s website. The list of forgiving post sent a blast of fresh air through my brain.