July! The seventh month of 2022 is nearing its end. There are only 5 more One Little Word Updates left for Surrender. I can’t believe it. The monthly check-ins that Carolyn hosts keep me on track with this little endeavor of mine and I’m so thankful for her! Please be sure to visit her blog and the other One Little Worders this month.
Sparrow, Sparrow, What Did You Say?
A whole day without speaking,
rain, then sun, then rain again,
a few plants in the ground, newbie
leaves tucked in black soil, and I think
I’m good at this, this being alone
in the world, the watching of things
grow, this older me, the one in
comfortable shoes and no time
for dishes, the one who spent
an hour trying to figure out a bird
with a three-note descending call
is just a sparrow. What would I even
do with a kid here? Teach her
to plant, watch her like I do
the lettuce leaves, tenderly, place
her palms in the earth, part her
dark hair like planting a seed? Or
would I selfishly demand this day
back, a full untethered day trying
to figure out what bird was calling
to me and why.
–Poem found in The Carrying by Ada Limón
This poem has helped me practice surrendering this month. It’s been a hard one, no thanks to covid and quarantine. Being at home with three kids, one with special needs, is no joke. I glossed over the difficulties of it in my blog this month, but I feel like I can admit its challenges now that we’re past it and I’ve gained a bit of perspective on that time. I cried the first 3-4 days while we were sick and in quarantine. I cried with worry about infecting other people and over the frustration of how hard things were here at home. It was hard and I was an emotional mess.
But somehow a line from a poem that I read months ago kept bubbling back up. “…would I selfishly demand this day back?” kept tickling my brain. That one question brought me back to reality again and again. It allowed me to take a deep breath and dive back in. Over and over, because I needed a lot of resets.
I also thought about how Limón was writing about the inverse of what I was experiencing – this poetry collection is full of her struggles with infertility. Here is a woman who has been desperate for a baby and all that entails. It doesn’t diminish my own challenges, but helps reinforce a fuller picture.
Sometimes surrendering means imagining a world that’s the opposite of your own and recognizing your own extraordinary challenges as gifts.*
Friends – our next chat about our words will happen at the end of August! Summer will be in its final stages and we’ll be heading into fall. I am so ready for the change in the season but not the end of another year. I still have a lot of surrendering to do!
*But of course – her opening line of “A whole day without speaking” sounds heavenly.
I know exactly what you mean. It’s been a rough month over here too. I don’t want to wish the summer away but I will be sort of glad to get this month behind me. ❤️
Yes – goodbye to July!!
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Always nuggets of wisdom and inspiration in the midst of tough challenges. Thank you for this!
Thank you, Jordy. And thank you for being such a good friend!
As Joni Mitchell says you don’t know what you got till its gone! Feel for you, it’s been tough going. Onwards and upwards and don’t let the b××××××s get you down as my stepfather used to say,
Onwards and upwards has been my motto for a long time!! Thank you Cathy 🙂
I can only imagine how hard those days must’ve been when everyone was sick and you were all stuck at home. That’s not really a situation in which you can surrender, especially when you’re a mom. But I think there’s a way to way to bring your word into it in the sense that we know things like this will happen, despite our best efforts (especially with regard to COVID — even people who are and have been extremely careful are getting it). Surrendering to the fact that this stuff happens and that we’ll get through it, as you have, is a very real skill, and while I know it was hard for you for a while, you made it through okay!
Oh, hugs from Maine! Hope August, buzzing August, is a much better month.
Thank you so much Laurie. I’m also hoping that August will be better!
This post has been feeling all the feels, Katie. First… I love love love that poem. I read it frequently as well. Ada has such a lovely way with poetry.
Not that I have any comparison with my kid challenges and yours… your post very much reminded me of the fall/winter that we could not get rid of strep throat. My then husband traveled 25 days a month, so I was basically a single parent. We were all sick… so sick. And by December I had pleurisy… I cried daily and hated myself for it… why could I not be stronger, tougher, a more together parent. Why were my kids constantly sick?? (Clue… Rachel was our “strep carrier” she kept the circle going…good thing she was so cute!)
Anyways. I have not thought about those tough days very much at all. Because here is the thing… even though there is no surrender to hard times, somehow they end. And you get stronger without realizing that the hard times are forging a masterful mother.
Be gentle with yourself, my friend. XO
This was such a lovely comment and I have returned to it several times since you shared it. Thank you so much, Kat.
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Sending you hugs and hoping that August is a kinder month to you. I do agree that A Whole Day Without Speaking Sounds Lovely!!
Oh Katie – that poem is a treasure. And I am grateful that you would share your own truth here.
Thank you, Juliann. I’m glad the poem struck a chord with you!
Thank you for sharing! And, I cannot even imagine! I think being “real” is the most important thing and it helps me to say I have not done well with my word for the year-“compassion”. However, I did have an insight yesterday that said, ” when you are more compassionate you can be more patient!”
Linda – I totally agree with that! And it’s still so hard sometimes, isn’t it?
A wonderful poem and a vulnerable reflection – thanks for sharing. I’m sorry it was such a hard time for you! I’m glad this poem helped.
Thank you, Laila! I’m just amazed that it kept bubbling up for me, despite not realizing that it had made such an impact in the first place. So thank you for introducing me to this poet 🙂
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oooh chills, Katie, and not only for the poem! “It doesn’t diminish my own challenges, but helps reinforce a fuller picture.” sometimes it’s hard to see clearly what’s in front of me … let alone what might be just beyond my frame, or taking up ALL of someone else’s view. That Fuller Picture is, for some unknown reason, just hard to see! So glad you and yours have the covid stuff behind you … the picture in front sounds much better than the one in your rearview mirror 🙂
Thank you, Mary! You make such a good point. Sometimes I feel as though my view is 100% autism and it can be so hard to look beyond. Of course — it’s not 100% like that, but feels that way during the hard moments. I’m trying to get better at grasping onto the good moments.
“Sometimes surrendering means imagining a world that’s the opposite of your own and recognizing your own extraordinary challenges as gifts.”
Such a thoughtful statement, Katie. Just the other day I was thinking about this, in terms of my brother’s simultaneous cancer and divorce. I was thinking of how challenging the last few years have been… addressing those big things within the context of a pandemic, no loss… and while, of course we would not necessarily wish for the challenges that land in our laps, there’s no denying the depths we dive to because of them. And sometimes that’s where treasure is found. Just like here.
I hope you enjoy some final summer blooms before fall mums appear in the market! And here’s to the delicious anticipation of your Blackwell’s order.
Thank you, Carolyn. You put it much better than I did! I hope you also enjoy the last few weeks of summer in your new home!