I’ve let a lot of things go this summer.
This blog, for example, which has fallen by the wayside these past two years while I poured all my focus into writing and revising my memoir.
Neglect by necessity, you might say.
Not unlike summer parenting. Right now my kids are playing Minecraft for the umpteenth hour despite all my efforts to curb screen time this summer.
It’s midway through a summer with minimal camp and minimal childcare, which means maximum MOTHERING.
Despite this, I managed to accomplish a surprising amount. I’ve read a TON of books, including EVERY single Deborah Levy, my new summertime writing crush. I can’t recommend her latest memoir, The Cost of Living, enough. Also, her previous memoir, Things I Don’t Want to Know. (Check out the linked reviews from The Guardian if you’re curious to know more.)
I just discovered that these are the first two installments of a memoir trilogy, which follow her life as a woman in her 40s, 50s, and the forthcoming 60s. This reminds me of another trilogy I finished this summer, Rachel Cusk’s incredibly unique and powerful, Kudos.
Other books devoured:
Educated by Tara Westover – I loved this memoir, but it also made me anxious because of her dramatic, and at times violent, childhood. It’s not the quiet kind of memoir that I usually gravitate towards, but I’m so glad I read it.
Podcast accompaniment: the NPR interview that first piqued my interest.
The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner – a riveting novel about women’s prisons in California told (mostly) from the perspective of Romy Hall, a young woman serving two consecutive life sentences (this is not a spoiler).
Podcast accompaniment: Kushner at the Los Angeles Public Library.
Also, somehow, despite the nonstop pace of summer at home with two kids, I managed to finish another draft of my memoir.
I didn’t expect to have any time to work, but it makes sense that I made the time. Writing keeps me sane by reminding me who I am – in addition to being a mother. Recently, The Sunlight Press published an essay I wrote several months ago about this exact theme: Saying Yes.
A little while ago I walked outside while the kids buried their faces behind their screens. Freshly cut grass stuck to my sandals as I shuffled across the damp lawn, gazing at the overgrown landscaping. The weeds have won, I decided, with ambivalence.
I had attempted to tackle them in late spring, digging the innocent looking green sprouts out by the roots, but it’s the kind of task that has to be done repeatedly, religiously, compulsively, and well, I just don’t have time for that kind of nonsense.
The weeds are officially bigger than the “legit” flowers, and yet, they have flowers of their own.
Who is to say, really, what is a weed and what is a flower? A convenient argument, perhaps, seeing as we’re living behind a forest of weeds, but still, I wonder. My son has always loved dandelions, one of the most persistent of weeds, and even names it as his favorite “flower.” Who am I to tell him he’s wrong?
A few weeks ago, I tried using kitchen shears to cut a six-foot long stem that had crept across the driveway, but it was so thick – with a circumference of at least one inch – I almost broke the shears. After abandoning them, I used my hands to twist the thick stem back and forth, finally cracking it in half with a satisfying crunch. I dragged it into the woods and flung it a few feet away where I’m sure it will root down and begin again. But that’s another day’s problem.
Sometimes we have to let things go, so other things can grow.