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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Last night was our first night out on the town, sans Liliana, since coming home with her.  We went to the theater to watch The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, then went to Sontes for drinks, so we could talk.

May I be frank with you?  I must provide an aside first, so you’ll understand.  I’ve not hidden the fact that I’ve been low the past few days, although I’m not sure I’ve shared how low.  One of my dear friends sent me an e-mail yesterday (and please, K., keep sending them; they’re wonderful!), about one of her friends who felt like she couldn’t read my blog anymore–that she couldn’t measure up to all the fantastic things I’m describing.  This was a good reality check, because if anything, I want this blog to be honest and forthright and…oh yeah…provide support where there is none.

So, to that dear sweet friend, I’m going to tell you something.  There are some days (most days), I feel so overwhelmed with the constancy of motherhood, that I feel consumed, sucked dry.  One writer once said that you lose pieces of yourselves to the characters in your books.  I feel the same way about having a child.  I think this comes from my attempts to live in the moment–let every detail sink in, allow nothing to slip by.  As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I’m a sponge, meaning I absorb things around me, especially a friend’s (or my daughter’s) grief, joy, or unsettledness. This is a good thing and a bad thing.  Good in that I’m present with that friend.  Bad that I sometimes carry it for days afterward.

Here’s the clincher.  I feel alone, even though I know there are millions of other mothers doing what I’m doing–with more children and under greater duress.  What excuse do I have when my friend L. is home schooling her three children, or my friend J. has one handicapped child and chose to adopt two more special needs kids?  I don’t have one.  I am hard on myself.  I’m fully aware of my limitations and hang-ups with Liliana (aren’t children the best…and worst…mirrors?).  I am aware that this is a season of my life, although I’ve been told that I will continue entering newer, more difficult seasons as my child ages.  Guilt runs in my family, so there’s that, too, which I struggle to root out each day.

A lot of the ideas I’ve highlighted on the blog I’ve not done yet.  These are things I want to do; I simply don’t have the time–not with the time I’m spending with little L.

I don’t even have a regular writing schedule yet, and this kills me.  It’s my job; it’s what I love to do, and I can’t, because I cannot find the time.  I feel like wilted lettuce–past its prime, shriveled up.

So, back to the movie, which was so astute and brave and Dickensian.  As the trailer makes no secret of it, Benjamin Button is about a boy who is born old, and as he grows, he gets younger.  It’s based on a short story of the same name by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  You can read it here.  Sitting there in the dark theater, knowing all these things that are inside me presently, I wept–streams of tears.  The movie was full of heartbreak, wisdom, and thwarted love, that I couldn’t help but feel a kinship–that life is a package deal.  It comes with pain and goodness.  It comes with meanness and kindness.  It just is.  And it made me sad.

There were so many wonderful voice-overs, but one piece of dialogue stood out.  Cate Blanchett (Daisy) says to Brad Pitt (Benjamin), “You have seen the last of my self-pity.”

I can relate, because what I’ve been feeling is exactly that–self-pity–and I so don’t want to feel that way anymore.  It’s just that I don’t know exactly where to begin.  Baby steps, baby steps, right?

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The quote I live by

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
--Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet

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