My glasses were broken.
They were bent, snapped in two, September 6, and ever since then I have been feeling my way through my days, as if the impairment to my vision made my eyelids heavy, my head pulse painfully. Part of it is the sugar; now that I've given it up, a teaspoonful and my head pounds for several hours. It's the worst effect of backsliding, near-instantaneous punishment. A bigger part of it, though, is that ever since I have known (I already knew) that it was Too Much.
Harriet emailed me to say this, the same thing I was telling myself as I piloted my bike with two boys after my swearing son, six miles home, that night. It's too much. I'm doing too much. Or I'm trying to do too much, as much of it is unsuccessful, my aspirations falling through my fingers as I try to squelch them into a ball, but they're dry grains of sand, they fly away in the blowy, blurry wind. My peace, my order, my mantras, my pantry, nothing both ventured and gained. Everyone needs me so, and some nights I was so overwhelmed and aching that I slumped into the boys' bed, tossing and turning and kicking stinkily with them, a half-sleep of guilt and bungles.
Too much. Too much. The solution was too hard to choose. All of a Tuesday, the path was made clear.
I am leaving full-time employment. In about three weeks, I will let go of the regular paycheck, the benefits, the wide-eyed responsibility to which I, with three little boys and a husband adrift, am not fully capable of "giving 100%." (I see the vessel of me, pouring herself out, letting the life force drip-drip-drip and I cannot give it all, I have decanted only two-thirds, the rest is viscous and sticky, coating the sides of me, I can offer no more than I already have offered and I was too generous, anyway, that was required elsewhere!)
Now, I embrace a new practice. In selecting the way of personal, but not corporate, responsibility is already freedom and great relief. In my practice will be presence, daily vigils in the garden and in organization, meals cooked at mealtimes, email answered after children's needs are fully met, preserving every day, writing after bedtime. I will no longer report to work "from home," but will work at home.
I have begun a book about food. In it, I will write about the vast wealth of my pantry, the way of peeling figs, the autumn of my tomatoes, the winter of my sturdy kale, the spring of my green garlic. Tonight as I shared a peach with Monroe, I dreamed of a different Life's Work: infusing as many as I can with the intoxicating flavor of real, inconvenient, slurpy food, the kind that doesn't come in a single serving pack and which you must eat with both hands. I will invite people over for dinner. I will plant a flower bed. I will spend more time with my family.
We are learning to do this better, and it is my hope that I will document it better, too.