a constant swivel & an empty nest

I’m writing a work of fiction about a middle-age woman, newly empty-nested and figuring out her next stage of life.  This week my husband, Jeff and I dropped off our twin daughters at college—Lucy at American University & Willa at Wheaton College in Massachusetts.  

It won’t take you too long to figure out who “Alice” is in my excerpt.

“Although, she didn’t have the feeling so many of her friends described of instant familiarity with their babies…some bullshit, mysterious, ancient connection.  She felt something else, far less magical, perhaps it was a twin thing. 

constant swivel lisa lillibridgeAlice remembers how immediately after holding Frankie and Pearl for the first time she had a feeling that she was ignoring one baby whenever she turned her head and looked at the other.  Im already screwing this up She couldn’t possibly have known in that moment that this feeling would never leave her.  Alice’s head and heart already on a constant swivel, less than an hour after giving birth to twins.”

As many of you already know, it’s quite an emotional roller coaster to send the last of your brood out into the world.  I’m only 16 hours in, so this is all still pretty raw for me.

I believe whenever my wholeheartedness is required,

the process just can’t be rushed. 

In the remarkably funny (and raunchy) Netflix series Big Mouth, the character of Jessie’s mother, Shannon has the best line to describe what I’m feeling right now. 

“Let’s finish basic training before we go to Fallujah.”

She was describing using a maxi pad, when her daughter asked about tampons.  A great line for lots of situations though.

BIG MOUTH was created by Jennifer Flackett, Andrew Goldberg, Nick Kroll and Mark Levin.  The voice of Jessie’s mother, Shannon is Jessica Chaffin. 

(PLEASE NOTE: Do not watch BIG MOUTH with young kids.)

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The Ideal Mother is a Terrible Parent

by Erin W

I stumbled upon this article recently, which helped knock back some of those ever present parenting “should haves”Thank you Erin W.

“Eventually I smothered the ideal mother. I killed her dead. I introduced myself to my kids and started practicing “organic parenting.” I yell, I curse, I kiss and I hug. I hold onto them and push them away. They hold onto me and push me away.  Together, we horrify and delight each other, all the time.”  (I love this line wholeheartedly.)

LINK:  https://sherecovers.co/the-ideal-mother-is-a-terrible-parent/

My solace will come from many sources.  I’m riding the unpredictable waves as they roll in and I’m trying to listen to my inner self .  I know she’ll guide this process far better than any outside sources ever could.  I have to be willing to actually listen though.

Hang in there fellow empty nesters.

empty nest

my fabulous dream…

In my dream, I wake up in a city of unknown origin, I think New York. However, it could’ve been any big American city. It was busy, loud and there were tons of people on the street. At first I was disoriented, then I keep saying to myself, Life is Kind. A mantra of sorts, to keep me from being afraid of anyone or anything.

I start walking, it’s midmorning and the first person I encounter is a homeless man. He seems quite drunk, but his eyes are kind and clear and a bright very unique shade between between blue and green. He looks at me, smiles and says, “For a beer, I’ll tell you a story”.

Well, there are few things I enjoy more than a cold beer and a good story.

In my dream, I even thought, “Well, it’s midday, there are lots of people around, it will be OK…Life is Kind”. He stood up, took my hand and led me around the corner and down just a few stairs. The outside looked pretty dirty, scary actually and I hesitated, pulling back from his hold. He calmly said, “It will be OK”.

He opened the door and it was surprisingly a cool, sun-filled space that looked more like a diner than a dingy bar. People were talking and laughing, kids playing and there was a lively piano player. The bartender welcomed us warmly. We sat at the end of the bar where it was a little quieter. The old man ordered us two beers, looked me in the eye and smiled.

With no transition, or any recollection of the old man’s story I’m now back out on the street. I’m suddenly surrounded by young, tall, black men. They are talking and laughing, goofing off, they notice that I’m uncomfortable, but I stay right in the middle of their group. I walk a few blocks with them and then to get out of the pod, I have to excuse myself and duck around them, awkwardly bumping into and nearly tripping a few of the guys. They’re all jumping up to touch things, like light fixtures and the tops of signs.

They start giving me crap about being afraid of them because they’re black. I turned to them, said, “I’m not afraid of you because you’re black. I’m afraid of you because of your youth and there’s so many of you and you’re all so big. It’s intimidating to me today.”

Oh, Ok, yeah, I sort of get that, my grandma said something like that too”, one of the boys offered. He thumped his chest to me and smiled. They all said goodbye in mumbles and waves and off they went jumping down the street into the afternoon light.

 I turn the corner and bump, literally bump into this a woman and knock a bunch of papers and books onto the ground. She’s dressed in a well-tailored grey, plaid suit with a skirt and jacket, high end, high heels and a pink, silky blouse with a bow at the neck. Her slightly grey hair was fixed in a stiff, old lady hairstyle like my grandmother had done every Friday morning. Teased, smoothed and fastened with pins, a satin pillowcase required to keep it all tidy until her next appointment.

I apologize for knocking things out of her hands. She’s rushed and while we’re gathering everything back together, she says, “We can have lunch at two. I have a very busy day. I’ll see you at (I don’t remember the name). I can’t wait to catch up.”

Well, we all know how dreams go. So, even though I have no idea who this person is, I can’t wait to catch up either…waiting until two o’clock seemed like an eternity.

I kept walking around until the appointed time. I was very excited about my lunch and all of the catching up we’re going to do. I arrived at the place and everything is odd, the scale of everything really strange and disorienting. The stairs have a very difficult to maneuver tall rise between steps. The tables were all different heights. The lights were bright on some tables and really dark on others.

I suddenly hear someone a little out of breath in my ear. I get a quick hug from behind and a peck on the cheek. Then I see my lunch date. Who appeared was an older gentleman in a pink shirt, a bow tie, a grey striped suit and beautiful shoes. “Huh” was all I thought to myself. He launched into news and notes about his day and his life. He talked about his children, his work and relayed a story about recently missing a flight. He asked me about my projects and if I had seen someone we allegedly had in common recently.

All of this was so very ordinary. I didn’t question that who I thought I was meeting for lunch was an older woman. I just went with along with it and enjoyed his company. Apparently that missed flight story was a hoot.

He paid for lunch and said that he needed to head back to the office. He asked if I minded heights. I said that I sort of did, but that it depended on the situation. “Ok, follow me”, he said and we headed toward the back of the restaurant. He was walking quickly. I kept up. We got to an unusual door, walked out into an alley and went about seven steps to what seemed like nowhere. It was strange, but he was confident and I went along.

Can you climb?” he asked me. I said that I could. “Jump?” I told him that I could, but that I didn’t really want to. He climbed up the wall, got to the top, swing his legs around, sat a minute and jumped down, now out of my sight. I climbed up. Swung my legs around and looked down. It was about ten feet. I then said, “I don’t want to jump this far, I’m training for the senior olympics. I don’t want to hurt my ankles or knees.”

It will be fine, dear. I’ll catch you.” I jumped. I landed in the arms of my lunch date. An older woman in a plaid, grey suit, wearing a pink blouse and high heels. She caught me, shifted me upright, gave me a hug and said, “Let’s do this again soon”.

Then, I woke up.

I love this dream so much.

I’m going to put this dream in the category of:

WATCH YOUR JUDGEMENT & ASSUMPTIONS, LISA.

humidity, wakefulness & meditation

I don’t excel at sleeping. I really never have, but now in middle age, my sleep is interrupted constantly. I’ve decided to not fight it, embrace my natural rhythms and see how the universe wants me to use my extra waking time. Last night was no exception.

I went to sleep around 10:30 and was wide awake at 2:50. Our cat, Karen was sleeping soundly next to me. My husband is gone and I don’t mind waking up Karen, so I felt free to roam. I got up to pee and I noticed that all of the windows were covered with the soft, haze of humidity.

The whole world seems to be trapped in heat and haze right now.

I wondered how I could photograph Cape Cod’s humidity in the middle of the night without leaving my bedroom. I took a few shots. The camera wasn’t capturing what I could see. I decided that wasn’t the inspiration I was searching for, not at all what the universe wanted me to do in the middle of the night on August 9th.

I decided to get back into bed and listen to a guided mediation on the INSIGHT app, which I highly recommend. I have a favorite voice, Sarah Blondin who guides me with her Live Awake series. I consider her a very close friend. Sarah’s voice and words have provided so much, well, insight and spark since I downloaded the app in January.

This morning at 3:10am I chose Life is Kind. Here is the start to her meditation.

Though we are strangers, we are kindred in spirit. There’s no difference between us. We are the same.

We are here in the name of our hearts, in the name of opening, in the name of unstitching what has overtime grown closed within. We are each here in the name of reuniting with our soft centers. It is the place we are most alive, most accepted, most whole.

It is where we seek refuge from the from the weight of the world.”

I fell back asleep shortly after these lines and had a remarkable, beautiful and kind dream.

I’ll share that dream with you tomorrow.

 

my modern fresco

fresco noun
1. a painting done rapidly (not so rapidly actually) in watercolor (interior latex & acrylic) on wet (old) plaster on a wall or ceiling, so that the colors penetrate the plaster and become fixed as it dries.
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My twin girls are graduating soon and I’m feeling nostalgic.
I’m not surprised I had a little trouble prioritizing things this week.
I focused on this instead, the other stuff will get done somehow.
Getting up at 4:15 to paint with the birds chirping was pure joy.
Below is the evolution & some details of the painting.
I haven’t felt “painterly” for a long time.
I do now.

Lisa Lillibridge's modern fresco

 

 

Thank you Ruby, Lena & BHS YES (year end studies) program.

I was very inspired talking about art and process.

Please Note:  I’m off FACEBOOK, please contact me through e-mail, not messenger.

fledge, far more than just a verb.

My twin girls are graduating from high school in a few weeks.

We noted when they were born that they would be the Class of 2018.

 Lucy is on the left & Willa on the right—one hour old.

FLEDGE verb (Merriam Webster)

1: to rear until ready for flight or independent activity

This definition of fledge, makes the process sound so simple, so animal.  I’m finding that this process is not so simple and requires some emotional skills far beyond natural animal instincts.  A few questions keep coming up for me.

What do I need to let go of now?

What’s at stake by holding on to my girls too tightly?  Too loosely?

What relationships do I desire moving forward?

Who am I when I no longer have kids at home?

I’m allowing myself to grieve the end of this stage of family life.

I know I won’t hang out in this emotional space forever.

If I stuff these feelings, they’ll leak out in remarkably weird ways.

Perhaps even weirder than usual lately.

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Congratulations to fledglings throughout the land.

Happy Graduation 2018!

 

 

on our coffee drive this morning…

Upon closer observation, I loved this tragic and truly fascinating creature.

I felt an odd kinship of sorts, being a bit prickly myself lately.

“The porcupine, which one must handle gloved, may be respected, but is never loved.”

—Arthur Guiterman, poet

 

Here’s my own version of that quote.

The end of the school year mother, which one must ‘handle gloved’, should be respected, always loved and often feared.

top rack only

On this Mother’s Day, I really wanted to be honest with myself about it all. Mothering my kids has been heart-shatteringly beautiful and sometimes just plain heart-shattering, without the beauty part to soften the daily blows. 

I can’t change anything and regret is a waste of energy anyway.  If I try to tamp the regrets down, I know they will leak out in uncomfortable ways at inconvenient times. 

Recently I noticed the TOP RACK ONLY button on the dishwasher.  “Jeff and I will be a top rack only couple probably a few nights a week when the girls leave for college.”  When I said this to myself, it made me cry inconsolably.  Damn, that’s bleak.  

These episodes are getting more frequent now as our nest nears it’s emptying…clearly a time for a little extra grace. 

When Ellis, Lucy and Willa were growing up, I often did a quick review at the end of the day, asking myself one simple question: Did I love them more than I was pissed off at them?  I don’t remember ever answering, NO.  It was all the encouragement I needed to wake up and mother them another day.

Happy Mother’s Day 2018!