The Hillhouse

The Journey of a Mother and Son

Solo February 16, 2013

Here it is again. My time. My time alone, without my son. My time to get things done, to enjoy some respite from always being needed. For the most part, it’s a good system. I enjoy having my son during the school year, and for breaks he stays with his father. Yeah, it’s worked out pretty well over the past few years. But the transition from mother to solo human is always a little poignant. I always feel a little lost in the world after Elihu leaves. Empty of destination, of purpose…

The train that he and his father take to Chicago leaves Schenectady at 7:30 p.m, and the drive home is dark and quiet. A contrast to the few hours that precede it; these are the handful of hours that we three get to spend together as a family. Elihu so looks forward to those visits, and me too. In spite of the history, we three always share laughs and end up enjoying ourselves. It’s just enough time together to make me wistful, to make me miss the life we didn’t end up sharing. Perhaps the drama of goodbyes shared on a train platform heighten my vague sense of sorrow, I don’t know. Why even think like this?¬† Everything is as it should be. Yet as I begin the long drive home I start to feel very alone. And I begin to think…

I begin to sink into the feeling of what it is to be alone on the planet. Of what it feels like just to be me – to be me on my own, undefined by my relationship to anyone else. It’s hard to conjure, to really get it. And it’s then that I realize how very much my life is tied to my son’s. My very identity seems to depend upon him. It frightens me to think of myself alone, without him. And honestly, I don’t know if it’s healthy to depend so keenly on my young son. I fret over the idea for a while. But after a time I relax; this is, after all, my role right now. Single mom. And it takes almost all of me to be that. One day, this chapter too will close and a new one will begin. Oh oh. I consider this new idea, and begin to sense a low grade panic growing. What the hell will I do then? Just what exactly is it that I do if I’m not a mother? Oh no – this worries me. I really don’t do anything. My life is all about being a mother! Back in the day I was a musician – but that was all about the look, the lifestyle… it was very much about the culture of youth and beauty. I can’t revisit that life, no, I’ll need a new one… But I can’t follow that line of thought too long, because I can feel the stress rising. Instead I do my best to quiet my mind and soon it’s just me again, the darkness and the road. Guess I’ll just have to figure it out when I get there. For now, the challenge at hand is the week that stretches out in front of me. For some reason, the space ahead seems much emptier than usual. And I think I know what might be contributing to it.

On Valentine’s day I learned that I’d lost my beloved new job as pianist at Elihu’s school. It was unexpected, and frankly, due to a situation out of my control. No hard feelings exist, yet I’m left rather dazed by the sudden change. The sudden emptiness in my life. Sure I’ve got projects that can use my attention, I’ve got parents that could use my attention, and I’ve got a brother that needs medical help and counseling, something that only I can help him achieve – but it’s not the same. I had a job I loved, my first real job in a decade; I did what I loved and got paid for it. For once things seemed to be falling into place. I played music every day. I saw my son every day, I saw those wonderful kids every day. I got to play sweet little classical pieces, I got to improvise, I got to play the most delicious piano I’d touched in years… and now, it’s gone. Poof. But I can hardly feel sorry for myself when the woman whose classes I accompanied has lost her job too. I haven’t lost what she has, but still… It makes my future feel a little emptier than before.

Tonight I have house guests, and although I don’t think I’m up to the socializing that goes with being a host, it might be for the best that they’re here. It might help to distract me from my dark mood. They’re not home yet, and likely they’ll be in late. I probably won’t see them tonight. Good. That’ll give me some time to switch gears. Tomorrow I may join them along with several thousand other folks at the Flurry – the local dance festival which brings together musicians and dancers of every age, color, size and shape from all over the East. Because I’m hosting musicians, I’ll enjoy a highly coveted pass. So I’ll go. If nothing else, it’ll be fun to hear all that wonderful live music and watch all those amazing dancers. Yeah, I’ll go. Just not sure if I’ll dance. I don’t know. Not sure I’m ready to swing a partner quite yet.

 

Spoons and Drums June 8, 2012

Yesterday Elihu’s Eurythmy teacher at Waldorf¬† brought the local trad music folks to school as an end-of-the-year treat for the 3rd graders. The trio played and called as 3rd graders, 7th graders, teachers and this mom joined in the dancing.

Local favorites Peter, Paul and Margot explain traditional music to the kids

Looks like Master Elihu has a question…

…he wants to see the spoons that Peter plays up close

Abigail Reid (standing) is the 3rd grade teacher

Susan Birkas Dent, Eurythmy teacher on left, Paul Rosenberg, caller, multi-instrumentalist and well-known founder of the Dance Flurry here in Saratoga on the right. We’re about to dance, so sorry – there aren’t any pictures of the dancing in progress!

Peter Davis shows Elihu how to play the spoons

During recess Elihu shares the djembes he brought to school with classmates

…then he and Phoenix play together (these two are the drummers in the class for sure!)

After school is out, Adam Witt, baker of the best bread you could ever hope to taste and west-African-schooled drummer leads the kids in a drum circle

A late spring rain has the drummers running to squeeze into the gazebo.

What a magical day. How much do we love this school??