On Saturday, I was bracing myself for the Mother’s Day blues.
Five years ago, I didn’t see my mom on Mother’s Day. I called her, I expect, but I didn’t do flowers or a card or a gift — I was in grad school, quitting my job, life was busy. I didn’t know, because we so rarely do, that it would be our last holiday. I don’t feel guilty about that — she would scoff at me if I did. But I do think of her and miss her more on the holiday. At the best of times, it’s still a teary holiday for me. And this year, R was busy with finals, so I expected a solitary day. As I said, bracing myself.
Instead, there was an after-dark knock on the door on Saturday evening. I went to answer it with trepidation, that sense of ‘uh-oh, who could that be?’ But yay! It was R, home to surprise me, and a delightful surprise it was.
Instead of my solitary day, I made us a big breakfast and then we headed off to our annual Mother’s Day super-hero movie tradition. We saw Captain America: Civil War, which was unexpectedly good. I’d been careful not to read or see anything about it — I actually didn’t want to be spoiled, because my expectations were so low. I usually don’t mind spoilers, but in this case, I anticipated that spoilers would reveal things that would make me unhappy and I didn’t want to dread the movie, if that makes any sense. But it was surprisingly enjoyable and far more fun than I expected it to be.
Afterwards, he worked on his final papers and I thought about Grace. Didn’t write a word, but did finally decide to go backwards again. R came into my room at one point and I told him I was debating throwing the whole thing away and he forbid it, very sternly, so I guess I’m not doing that. But the last six weeks of words just don’t work for me, so I’ve deleted them from my file (saving them, of course, for when I change my mind again) and am starting over again from the point where I think it stopped working. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to re-use some parts, but I’m going to work on writing it as if it’s a clean slate.
Meanwhile, a friend taught me to knit on Saturday, so I have been knitting and thinking and knitting and thinking. No words written (unless I count these) but at least I’m not feeling frozen anymore which is how I spent the last week. I’m trying to remind myself to put progress before perfection, like a good positive discipline parent.
But I’m also thinking that maybe knitting would be a good metaphor for how I should be treating writing. Because in my knitting, I’m trying really hard to focus on process, not product. I finished off my first skein of yarn, and then I ripped it all out and started over. Not because I was worried about it not being good enough, but because the point of knitting for me is not to produce usable objects, but to have the mindful meditative process. I’m trying to find flow states, not create scarves. Maybe I should be treating my writing the same way. The goal isn’t to produce an end result that follows other people’s rules of storytelling and satisfies every single person who ever picks it up — the goal is to love what I do while I’m doing it.
Process, not product. It feels right. So now let’s see what the words are like when my only goal is to enjoy writing them.