It’s almost 11pm. I am tired. Right before I carried my sleeping son from my bed to his bed, I checked out the prompt over at NaPoWriMo and figured I’d just wing this one.
What It’s Like Being A Single Mom During a Pandemic
I drive into the city to pick up my kids.
The city doesn’t act like a city anymore.
It looks uncertain and confused—
like the rest of us.
It looks like it is waiting for something—
like the rest of us.
We get back home and I fiddle with my computer
until I successfully get my fourth grader into her online class meetup.
I bring her snacks.
She tells me she isn’t supposed to eat during online learning.
(I think to myself, Why in the world not?)
I watch her drawing during the online class,
just like she does when she attends class in person.
I mean, just like she used to do,
back when kids went to school…
I fiddle with my other computer
until I successfully get my second grader into his online class meetup.
I bring him snacks.
He chews with his mouth open
and sprays bits of apple on my laptop.
I am not amused.
I attempt to read while they finish their online class meetups.
I am only partially successful.
I take my kids out on a walk.
It’s a beautiful, cool day.
My ten year old is already fifteen in her tone, body language,
and declarations of existential angst.
I am not amused.
I attempt empathy, patience, kindness, and compassion.
I attempt to enjoy my walk in spite of my ten year old’s angst.
I am only partially successful.
Back home my idea to bake brownies
devolves into a fight over who gets to set the oven temperature.
I am not amused.
I again attempt empathy, patience, kindness and compassion
and am mostly unsuccessful.
I am disapointed, annoyed, frustrated and depressed.
I want to scream.
Another mom tells me that her husband is annoying her
by sharing his two cents about their kids’ remote learning,
and then going back to his remote working
while my friend attempts to harangue their kids
into actually attending to their remote learning.
She is not amused.
I am suddenly glad that I am single.
I make dinner with as much efficiency as I can muster.
We eat well.
The kids devour their dessert.
We sit together working on our own things.
My ten year old draws.
My eight year old works on a puzzle.
I play with my singing bowls.
We are very successful.
We get ready for bed.
I read to them a few pages
of The Phantom Tollbooth.
My son passes out.
My daughter goes back to her room
to read some Harry Potter.
I muster up the strength to carry my
eight year old into his room.
I pour him into his bed and tuck him in.
My ten year old is still reading.
I tuck her in and turn off the lights.
She smiles and says I love you.
I am extraordinarily successful.
Today’s prompt asks us to write a concrete poem, which is a poem where the lines of words are placed in such a way to form a shape that is in some way connected to the theme of the poem. I wish I knew what uncertainty was shaped like. I’d write a poem in that shape…
The Shape of Uncertainty
It must be kind of wave like,
the shape of uncertainty, because
my uncertainty comes in waves.
Sometimes a little ripple,
sometimes a crashing, roaring tsunami,
whatever the size, the waves keep coming.
I haven’t drowned yet,
because I’ve learned to keep breathing,
catching my breath between the waves,
finding a way to draw the air into my lungs.
Someday when I look back on this
I’ll see that I stayed afloat somehow on this vast ocean.
And though my vessel is tiny, it’s sound.
Come to think of it,
aren’t all emotions shaped like waves?
Love, anger, joy…don’t they all come and go,
uncontrollable, unplanned, vast like the ocean?
I’ll just keep breathing.
Well, it looks like I should start giving myself a limit on time spent on the NaPoWriMo site. Between yesterday’s prompt and today’s, I probably spent two good hours poring over the linked content. Yesterday’s Bosch painting really sucked me in, but so did today’s bizarre news with catchy titles. And of course that led me down another rabbit hole! I’m going off prompt today…
It’s good enough just to breathe.
Bonus points for bathing.
Bonus points for dressing up like you’re going to work…
But it’s totally understandable
if all you want to do is stay in bed.
Sometimes I feel that way too.
Just remember that you deserve your own kindness,
gentleness and understanding.
Remember that you aren’t alone,
even when you’re feeling lonely.
Be generous with your praise;
everybody needs some kindness
right about now.
Mostly, just trust…
Trust that everything will turn out ok.
It will, you know…
Everything will turn out just fine.
Over at the NaPoWriMo site, today’s prompt inspired me to think a little differently. I like the idea of twenty little poetry projects.
Only birdsong can save me now.
Taking no joy in the television,
growing tired of virtual chats,
I am the introvert who now
to be in a crowded restaurant.
They flutter around the birdfeeder
hopping, singing, pecking.
Their togetherness is so normal,
Only their song can save me.
Hello friends. Today is day 3. Except it’s close to midnight, which means it’s almost tomorrow. Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was all about using a rhyme generator and playing around with sound, but I’m not a very rhyme oriented poet—maybe I should try to be more enthusiastic about rhyming? At any rate, I must admit I am totally not in the mood to attempt to generate a word bank right now, so I’m going rogue on this one.
Too Many Words
I don’t need to search for words. I have too many in my head right now.
Virus. Curve. Shelter. Pandemic. Isolation. Crisis. Collapse. Fear.
I attempted to keep myself busy with yard work today.
It’s what normal people do on a normal spring day.
I even got my kids involved.
(Part of me was thrilled to have them outside.
If it were a regular day they would have been in school).
I found myself in tears hours later,
after my kids went to their dad’s house for the weekend,
and I found myself alone, knowing I’d see no one else for days.
Quarantine. Ventilator. Masks. Intubation. Social Distancing. Death.
I call my sister in tears. I tell her that I’m not passing the yoga test,
that I’m not doing this as well as a yoga teacher should do a pandemic.
I’m hearing the inner critic, she said. More tears.
I distracted myself with rare vintage footage of Terrence McKenna,
me and 5000 people on Crowdcast…totally alone, watching together.
I guess that this is how I’ll get through this.
I’ll face my aloneness. Like everyone else in the world.*
*I feel a need to acknowledge those of you who are shut inside with people you don’t necessarily want to be with, my heart goes out to you. Maybe my situation (days of isolation) sounds like paradise. Well, I’ll breathe for you as you long for solitude, and I ask you to please breathe for me as I long for company. I’ll take in this peace and quiet, and I’ll radiate this feeling out into the whole world for you to feel. My friends who are with loved ones…please take in your feelings of warmth, being seen, being loved, and radiate this feeling out into the whole world for all of us who are lonely, that we might feeled loved even in our loneliness. Thank you. 🙏🏻❤️🌈🙏🏻
I loved today. The kids and I had a sweet hike in the woods. So much sunshine and wind! It’s also day 2 of NaPoWriMo. Today’s prompt got me because it invited us to write a poem about a place, including details to help portray a mood. I always want to write about natural places, so here we go…
Loch Raven Reservoir Hike, Take 1
We hadn’t been there in a while
and I was excited
Until we walked up to the signs
saying “NO TRESPASSING’.
another sign said “CORONAVIRUS.
This park closed to public,
One of my favorite trails, now forbidden.
Loch Raven Reservoir Hike, Take 2
We drove further down the road.
I followed my nose,
crossed a bridge,
parked the car just beyond.
There were no signs,
just an inviting trail,
going straight up.
I thought about the miracles that spring up
the possibilities that open up
when the routine is shaken up.
A Little Later
A blustery wind
made the still leafless trees
creak and groan
as their naked tops whipped around.
The water sparkled green.
Tiny pink flowers on the forest floor.
And more frequently than I want to say,
bits of trash,
Signs that humans have been this way.
First a young man
then twenty minutes later
an older man
passed us on the trail,
warmly keeping their distance.
My house is not spacious like the forest
but there is no wind chilling my bones
or signs telling me I am unwelcome.
Thank God for Home.
I’ve been keeping this blog for years now, and this is my 6th consecutive year of NaPoWriMo. Hey, a pandemic can’t stop poetry, good news, right? Today’s prompt on the NaPoWriMo site recommended trying out a metaphor generator. I had some fun with it, but it didn’t inspire any poetry. So, I’ll just be doing my thang today…which is simply showing up and allowing what wants to be said to come forth…
As I grope for some kind of sane rhythm
in the aftermath of our loss of normalcy
I am comforted by what doesn’t change.
I still grow tired at night.
I still eat, drink, use the bathroom.
I still breathe.
It’s good to know that some things don’t change.