Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I lower Mari into her bed, placing the purple pacifier in her mouth and folding the pink-and-yellow corners of the blanket across to trap her waving arms. My mind is heavy. There are lots of reasons, none of which justify my current level of inner turmoil. Perhaps it's the accumulation of too many little things.

Mari promptly spits the pacifier out and blows bubbles at me, so I know this will be a prolonged attempt, but Cim is asleep, so I have time. I put the pacifier back in and step over to the bookshelf, reaching for "Summer of the Great-Grandmother," a non-fiction book by my favorite author, Madeleine L'Engle. I hesitate, though. I don't know, right now, if I can handle reading about the decline of Madeleine's aging mother. My hand, frozen near the spine of the book, reaches instead to the one next to it, "A Circle of Quiet." And there, at the end of the second paragraph, I find exactly what I'm feeling:

"Vacuum cleaners are simply something more for me to trip over; and a kitchen floor, no matter how grubby, looks better before I wax it. The sight of a meal's worth of dirty dishes, pots, and pans makes me want to run in the other direction. Every so often I need OUT; something will throw me into total disproportion, and I have to get away from everybody--away from all these people I love most in the world--in order to regain a sense of proportion."

My eyes fill with tears, even as I tuck Mari's arm back into the swaddle and replace the pacifier once more. As I sit in my little rocking chair--it's little because I'm short and wanted one that would let my feet reach the ground--I read L'Engle's description of her "circle of quiet," her special place by the brook in the midst of New England farmland. I ache to be there; if not there, then somewhere other than here. I'm a country girl; I don't belong in this place where I don't dare step outside at night, or even walk the beach alone in the daytime. I don't belong in a place where a young mother gets pulled from her car at the grocery store in the middle of the day and attacked in front of her child just so someone can take her trunk full of food.

But even as I ache for the trees, rocks, stars, and evening breezes of my childhood, I am soothed by this author's description of hers. My heart takes a breath, and I feel my insides uncoiling. The lump behind my throat slips away, and 5 minutes later, I realize that the baby is asleep and I'm okay. I've found a circle of quiet in the middle of my daily routine. And for a few minutes, as I sit there, I am no longer an over-tired young mother, a stressed household accountant, a negligent housekeeper, a frustrated dancer, a former pianist, a wanna-be writer, or any of the other images I've superimposed over this person that is me. I just am. And, at least for the moment, I'm okay.