I have neglected this blog for far too long, for all the right reasons. Life has been full of doing things I love, and there has been little time or need to stop and reflect. However, it is a new year, and fresh, shiny new years are always a good time to reflect upon, and then walk away from, the old stuff.
2013 was a big year. The twins turned four at the end of January, and four years old was completely delightful. The girls are so damn much work, but so damn much fun. They are astonishingly musical - great singers, enthusiastic dancers, and quite dedicated to banging on their electric piano and plastic food storage container improvised drum kits. They are abstract thinkers, and delight in twisting meanings and making up jokes. I love being their mom, although, I freely admit that when I consider my middle age, and think ahead to things like ushering them into and through puberty, I need to have a little sit down and rest - and that's just from thinking about it!
In 2013 MIL continued to slip into her other world, the one guided by dementia and delirium. And then, in mid December, we got "the call." J was on his way into town to visit her as she was in a temporary respite stay at a great facility. The phone rang here at home, and it was the case worker we have been dealing with saying a room had opened up, and MIL wouldn't need to come home again. Now, I had been waiting for this call for months, and my first reaction was extreme relief. I am well into my forties, and mothering two preschoolers while providing elder care and keeping house is more than a full-time job, and because I am resolutely committed to maintaining my professional life as a writer, and a visual and theatre artist, I have also been juggling contracts, doing shows, and keeping all those balls in the air. So, when I first put the phone down, I felt this wash of release and some amount of glee. But then, something rather unexpected set in. I felt what I suspect is a kind of mourning. I felt sad. I went downstairs into MIL's apartment, and all of her things had taken on a significance almost exactly how things that belonged to the recently deceased become symbols of a life rather than commonplace objects. The sight of her hairbrush made me well up. I looked around her cluttered, debris laden suite and thought about how I'd need to clean it all up. And then I realized there would really be no point to save anything, as she won't be needing it again. She won't be coming back here, and she won't be moving anywhere else. She is where she is now, until the end. Life is so damned brutal. Thankfully, the brutality is punctuated by beauty and joy. And most of the time brutality and beauty are all mixed up together. So, we enter 2014 with one less resident in our house, more free time, a release from the burden of elder care, and two small children and a dog and two grown ups who are happy to be on this side of a profound episode; but who all feel the hovering empty space left by MIL's departure.
Professionally, 2013 was a welcome time of clarity when I was able to easily recognize which artistic associations to keep, and which to walk away from on good, happy terms. I have been gradually working toward being much more in charge of my own work, and it feels solidly right. For many years I have worked with and for others. Collaboration is a joyful, challenging part of artistry, but it can have interesting consequences. Some collaborations are fulfilling, respectful and enriching, others can leave one feeling used up and under appreciated. I have been very lucky to have had almost exclusively the former collaborations with a few of the other creeping in from time to time. But, even those good experiences can reveal themselves as having gone as far as they needed to go. I have a history of being involved in situations where I have willingly allowed others to take some credit for my work, and although I do not resent those situations now, I have no desire to do that anymore. So, I am entering a phase of being very picky about how I choose to work. I have so many inspiring colleagues, and I know who I have learned from and can move on from, and who I will seek out for future projects. If that all sounds annoyingly vague, it is because people read this, and I need to always be gracious about the opportunities I have had. In short: I feel on track and excited about where my work is, and where it is going. I am proud of the writing, performing and directing I did in 2013, and 2014 will be about furthering established projects and lavishing attention on my neglected child in terms of creativity: visual art. I am going to make things. And I am going to turn my attention to starting the book I was asked to write three years ago, and vowed I would start when the kids were five. Which they are. In twenty-three days.
I spent quite a lot of 2013 in important friendships with other women. This might not be a big deal to some, but I have never been a big friend person. I have always found my need for social interaction is easily sated by my immediate family and a few periphery friends. I have always turned away from anyone pushing me too hard toward intimate friendship. But I am a mom now, and I need other moms. I need other moms who are irreverent, mean in just the right way, hilarious, caring, supportive and have experience with the relentless complexities of relationships. My mom friends save and sustain me. My mom friends are also, happily, many of my artist friends. So, we get the place we are at in life, and when our eyes meet with a slight cocked eyebrow across a crowded room in the face of some absurd situation, all is instantly and wordlessly understood in a way that heretofore was only possible with my husband or my sisters. I am also grateful for my woman friends who may not be mothers of small children, but who are constant sources of artistic inspiration and who make me gasp at what they can do. All my friends make me want to be better at being myself.
2013 is a wrap, and 2014 is a week in and very much a so far so good venture. I am grateful for, and proud of, the life I have. I am still a cynical old neurotic, but I am a cynical old neurotic with a pretty good outlook on the coming year.