Monday, April 6, 2009

Cocooning, Taking Time.

Unless otherwise noted, all materials on this blog are (c) 2009 by Madeleine Vedel

The divorce is taking time, for numerous reasons. Amongst these the slow motion of the French judicial system, but also, the high fees of the lawyers and notaries are not easy to pay this early in the season. So, it is taking time. But so am I. I am taking time to get my feet back under me. I am taking time to figure out how to cope in this new reality. And that in itself is a luxury that I am fully aware of. But, I don't find myself able to manage differently. Things are not finished yet. In particular, the b&b is not sold as yet. Many things are on hold.

There are days I charge through my to-do list, and accomplish--if at times breathlessly-- all those accumulated tasks. I keep on top of most of my banking, my filing, the kids' medical appointments (that reminds me, we all need booster shots of tetanus), the bills, food, cleaning (better some weeks than others). And then the next day I'll feel lethargic, and though I nearly never allow myself a "useless" day, it is tempting.

Patience is necessary with the children. Leo's reading is improving, but it is not something that will shift overnight. Jonas is becoming more social and trusting, but there too, constance and presence are necessary. I've been the one who turns on a dime, who finds the solution to the problem with a quick bit of thought, who has a plan B in the wings ready to put into motion. I'm one who has always been in motion, gathering others to me in my wake. And now? Why do I feel a disconnect with this version of myself?

I spent a moment re-reading the Rudolf Steiner ideas of the life cycles as presented by two American Anthroposophists, George and Gisela O'Neil in their book, The Human Life. Ok, it sounds a bit esoteric, but, with my children in the Waldorf school, I've plunged more than a bit into this world and the very interesting ideas and concepts it puts forth on the patterns of a human life, the directions we choose, the moments we live throughout our biography. Concerning myself, moving from 42-43 this year, I am coming out of one seven year cycle (35-42) during which I basically took a look at things, threw a crank in them, and jumped out -- not necessarily with my parachute prepared. This cycle is a time to look at the path we are on, to review it, revise it, and if need be, change it. Task accomplished. It is also considered to be the last period of our 'soul' years. Which you could relate to the will, one's direction, one's values. The need to be on a path in sync with your true self is either heard and followed, or submerged by the insanities and needs of our daily life.

42-49 is a time of struggle, but also a time when the exterior physical forces are diminishing, and the internal life-forces and spirit are strengthening. For those who resist this pull towards the interior, this period can be very difficult, and a physical weariness, or illness is the result. As I re-read these ideas it dawned on me forcefully that my mornings on the computer, writing away, communicating, thinking, contemplating, are inescapable. For years I've been a whirlwind of energy, swirling through my life, exploring, creating, doing. But more and more, I am drawn inward. I am drawn to declare more clearly my values, to accept my limits, and hopefully, to discover new strengths, new directions that tap what is in me, not simply what I put out into the world.

Hence, I am writing. Is what I have to say interesting? Can I resonate with others going through similar moments? Can I bring any clarity, or if not, amusement to the subject? How banal is my situation? A mom newly single, raising her two boys who she is in many ways still discovering, trying to figure out how to earn a living that permits her to raise them as she wants and feels she needs to (at least for the moment). I've an accumulation of life experiences, living as an expat in a beautiful part of the world, working closely with so many masters of their trade. These friends are there, helping me yet with my visitors, my book projects. As all this flows, the seasons play their part, the kids' school rhythms are mine. And into this, I'm trying to cope on having a love life.

There's a theory that a woman can't succeed in all three domains at once, these being motherhood, career and love. Is it so? it certainly isn't easy to juggle the three. And particularly in this world when time is just not extensible. The NYTimes recently published an article highlighting grandmothers who move back in to help with the childcare so their daughters can have full lives with careers and happy husbands, and not in this pursuit neglect the education of their children. Michelle Obama's mother was a prime example. Where possible, this is still the pattern here in Provence. But, as elsewhere, it is becoming ever more rare.

I think we're all scared by divorce, badly behaved children, messing up the tasks we've set ourselves, disappointing ourselves as well as our entourage. It should be possible to succeed in all three domains, right?

Time to go lunch with a good friend and discuss this out loud. And then, of course, more tasks await. My new resume for teaching English and translating. The chapter on the beekeeper for the teen cook book. I'm getting to them, just more slowly than I thought I would, and should.

Avignon cafe life in full swing. And bikers out in force. Next time, I'm leaving my car at home too!


karenh said...

I wish I were that good friend and could have lunch with you to discuss all your interesting observations! "the internal life-forces and spirit are strengthening" for you, yes! And they will keep strengthening. My daughter, whom you met 4 years ago, is greaduating from college, and I've been in menopause for a few years. This has been a time for me of blossoming into something that feels exactly right, something I've necessarily supressed for a long while, working and raising a child. I'm writing poetry and taking life at its own pace. My relationship with my husband has strenghtened.

From your writings, I can tell you'll be just fine.

Nathalie said...

A most interesting post. There's so much to discuss there. I would agree with Karen: from your writings, I believe you'll be fine.

Madeleine Vedel said...

Thank you both. I worry out loud, and then I cope, and then I curl up in a ball and take a break... There is such a process to work through till it all sorts out (if it ever does). I remind myself that life is lived on the path, not necessarily at the destination. And, if we didn't have moments of fear and uncertainty, could we genuinely say we're alive?