Multiplicity

I was going to write about my trip to Seattle, my sojourn to visit my best friends and a new baby niece, a small apostrophe who curbed my shoulder and reminded me of those first few months after a baby is born, and a peaceful view that made me want to look for the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock.

seattle dock

seattle dock 2

Seattle peaceful image

seattle pic 5

Seattle scene

Then, I was going to lament about just recently when my son started choking while I was driving on the highway, when I had to pull over to the side, yank him out of his car seat, save him (thank God) in front of my stupefied daughter, and sob uncontrollably when the terrifying ordeal was over.

Zade exhausted

Zade exhausted

And then I was going to write about this charming farm to which my friend introduced me, and at which my kids had a perfect experience.

layla farm

layla farm 3

layla farm 2


But all of this accumulates to a comforting series of thoughts that hit me on the way home from work yesterday. In fact, it was more of a silent vow than it was a thought.

In the 1950s, Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote, “This is not the life of simplicity but the life of multiplicity,” in Gift from the Sea.

Before my short trip to Seattle, I had over a year’s worth of guilt about leaving my kids a few nights, burdening my husband and my parents for help, and wondering if my kids would feel that I abandoned them. But I am not only a mother; I’m also a friend, right?

After Zade’s traumatizing experience in the car, I demanded of myself, “How could you let this happen? What if you weren’t able to save him?” But certainly I’m allowed to learn from this experience, to do better next time, to anticipate and anticipate; I’m a student as much as I am a teacher.

And after I took my kids to the farm and felt my insides swelling with joy because I felt I did good, showed them a whole experience, facilitated them having a memorable time, fostered an experience that could grow into helping them be caring and whole human beings, I still allowed something creep in underneath:

What if I was a stay-at-home mom and could show them more of this; what have I not shown my kids yet that I will regret later, that they may ask me about when they are older with a regretful tone in their voice?

And this is where my silent vow comes in. I realized in the car that motherhood is the combination of instinct and experience—both of which are sharpened in time. I have to allow myself time, and my kids have to allow that of me as well.

Silently, I want my in-the-future 50-year old self to remember that whatever I did for my family, I did with the best intentions and with as much introspection as possible, and that if I messed up here and there, it is because I’m human first before I’m a mother, sister, friend, or daughter.

The way one makes vows in marriage or protects silent bonds in friendship; I vow I won’t hold too much against me, that I will give myself a space of forgiveness because my intention to raise whole-hearted and responsible children has always been there, even if I can get stuck in multiplicity sometimes.

I find perspective in these words, and I’m grateful for Andrea who put this book in my hands.

“I want to give and take from my children and husband, to share with friends and community, to carry out my obligations to man and to the world, as a woman, as an artist, as a citizen. But I want first of all—in fact, as an end to these other desires—to be at peace with myself. I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can.” –Anne Morrow Lindbergh

kids eating pizza

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2 thoughts on “Multiplicity

  1. I love that Zade is blowing a kiss in one of your pictures. I’m so happy you found words that convey the sentiments and wayward thoughts of all good mothers. You’re a great mommy but thankfully, for me and many others, you are so much more.

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  2. I get it. The guilt and the pull and the complications of multiplicity. I think when they are teeny and new (like you were reminded of in Seattle), you don’t get that sense of multiplicity much at all. You want to only be a mom and with them forever and forever. But I guess I am grateful that changes. It’s a big world. 🙂

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