Where do you start? Where do you begin putting your life back together after it all? Some of you don’t have a choice. You worked and worked and worked throughout, on your laptop until midnight, juggling everything, anaesthetising yourself regularly, with whatever was at hand. Perhaps now that you have some quiet in your house you are punching the air, about to hit the gas and not look back.
Others – like me – shed one responsibility after another (because we could) until life turned from one sort of hell to different sort of hell. We shuffled everything up to make a huge amount of space that was required for it all and suddenly what was filling up that space has gone and we are standing in a huge, empty, echoey hall, unable to remember what goes where. And where is everything? In storage? Where? What is going on?
But whatever happened to you, now your children are mostly or completely back at school, you will wonder this week why you find yourself perhaps depressed and lost, despite this probably being a moment you’ve been working towards for months and months. (“When they’re back at school, I will…”) And yet now, even though you might have a to-do list about to turn actually thermo-nuclear with urgency, you may find yourself staring out of the window, unable to find the will to do anything at all.
All I can say is that childcare uses a certain set of learnt behaviours and skills; children operate at a strange, staccato tempo. You have to give yourself a chance to change gears from that to something else. The way back is up a mountain – that high mountain over there – and the first steps seem pointless and impossible when there is such a long way to go.
To continue with my mad series of metaphors, consider this: roses don’t just appear out of the ground – they need to be grown, in prepared ground that is turned and then watered. I suppose what I’m saying is il faut cultiver notre jardin if we can expect anything creative to happen, if we can expect forward motion or any sort of inner peace.
My own inner garden is a jumbled mess, with snaking bramble cables, suffocated orchids, an old broken fridge, scuttling rodents. And in that corner, a burnt patch where there was a ghastly fire that razed my prized thingummies to the ground.
All I can hope for is that it’s true that fire in fact does good things for the ground and that, in time, something will grow there again.
How about you? How does your garden grow?