from The (Single) Motherlode:
A personal and photographic essay
For many of us anxiety rides high this time of year. Our calendars are brimming, we're being pulled into too many directions, and the demands of the season are particularly stressful. As we get older, as our children get older the magic seems to dissipate ever so slowly; you do your darndest to hang on to it. I ask everyone to think of others this season. Everyone is fighting their own battle. Be kind. Don't be judgmental. Not every smile is genuine; many are thin veils hiding sadness and fear. Check on your neighbors. Check on your friends. Look into their eyes if they tell you that everything is ok... because the eyes may send a different message.
While I use this site to share all sorts of ideas and inspirations, every once in a while I feel compared to share something personal because I know that whatever it is that I am experiencing, I am not alone - and sometimes those who feel alone need to know they're not.
I've always loved this time of the year - the sights, sounds, smells and spirit of the season. I love Christmas carols and new-fallen snow. I get giddy when the Red cups come out... when the first Christmas song comes on the radio.... at the prospect of selecting our tree and decorating it.... sitting around the fireplace.... watching those classic holiday movies with the children... baking gifts for teachers and friends (and for ourselves) ... the last minute (even though I try not to be) rush to get gifts ... wrapping the gifts while children are away... I look forward to Christmas morning and even though they're older the magic is still there and I will do whatever I can to preserve it for them.
But this year is difficult. This entire year has been difficult. The proverbial other shoe has dropped... and dropped, and dropped and dropped some more. We go through the motions daily to survive, to make it to the next day, week, and month, without slowing down to take it all in. As mothers, we focus on our children and their wellbeing and give them all that they need. They're our first priorities and we come second. So while it's important to take much needed time for ourselves, sometimes we can't give ourselves what we really need. It's not so much about wants, these days. It's about need.
I don't want to play the single mom card but that's essentially what it's all about. With limited time, resources and finances the season has been particularly hard this year. It is a struggle. There's never enough and there are no helping hands. Add to that extremely limited finances this season makes for a stressful time of year. While I know they say that kids understand and it's not what's wrapped up in the box that matters, in a way it is. I know what disappointing Christmases are like, to want something so badly and not to get it. Disappointing Christmases are more memorable than the best ones - those aren't the memories I want to give my children. They've had enough disappointment in their short lives, on this one day I want to create some magic for them.
It's the pressure I put on myself to make this time of year perfect for them that brings my stress level over the top. But I won't stop. I can't - at least not until they are older. I need them to have one day of the year where some of their dreams can still come true - one day where they still believe... (even if they really don't.) As a result this season has seen endless panic attacks and of tears of desperation. I simply can't let the children down.
As I tend to do when I am overwhelmed I get to a point where I completely shut down. My engine light has been lit for quite some time and it had no choice but to shut down. It's how I cope. It's not a means of avoidance but this automatic response gives me time to regroup, reflect and recharge. It is a form of escape. When this happens I'm frozen in my tracks. I cannot move. This is actually a good thing.
And while this was happening the snow fell and blanketed the small world around me.
On Saturday morning I woke up to a dark cold house. Darkness is not good for me. It's when my greatest fears and frustrations take on lives of their own, seemingly unmanageable, and I can't run away from them no matter how hard I try. Trying to fall back to sleep proved to be futile and I decided to make some coffee and enjoy the peace and quiet while it lasted. I plodded across the living room floor and decided to plug in the tree, with the light emanating from the decorated branches I caught sight of the white ground beyond. I turned on the back porch lights and watched as white flurries danced outside. I made my coffee and sat on the couch, eyes fixated on the world outside. As I watched, mesmerized I noticed the sky gradually shifting in color, from black to navy to purple... I needed to go out there. I needed to go out there with my camera. Despite the cold.
The first, new-fallen snow calms me.
My photography calms me.
This snow was just what I needed.
I can't say I re-booted, or even necessarily re-charged for that matter. But I was able to shift my thoughts over to something calming and peaceful.
Even just temporarily.
I hope my images calm you as well.
What do you do to find necessary inner peace when the world around you is all amok?