The Soil

posted May 1, 2009

The problem with taking a day off is that you have to come home to a household that didn’t have you in it for a day. And the problem with getting away from it all is that you take it all back home when you return, plus it’s all dirty and you have to unpack it. I need a day off to recuperate from my day off.

Also, I continue to be exhausted, which I am sure everyone including me is sick of hearing me say. Yesterday, we walked home from HooteNanny midday, which is my lowest point energy-wise anyway. I was pushing the double stroller up a long hill, hungry and tired, and Elle and Jay were refusing to fall asleep like they were supposed to.
Instead, Elle kept saying, “Mama, can I walk?”

Now, what kind of a mother doesn’t let her cute, enthusiastic almost three-year-old exercise her cute little legs on a perfect spring day? A tired hungry one who wants to get home as fast as possible, that’s who. So I said, “When we get to the top of the hill you can get out.” The top of the hill is a mere five blocks from our house, which is still more than I’d have liked to give her. I would have liked her to walk up the stairs of our porch, but I was feeling magnanimous and also guilty, so when we got to the top of the hill I released her from her bonds. She them proceeded to practice her tightrope act on the curb, examine every new blade of spring grass and grill me on what is apparently her new obsession:

Elle: Mama, are worms good for the soil?
Me: Yes, worms are good for the soil.
Elle: Are caterpillars good for the soil?
Me: Yes, caterpillars are good for the soil.
Elle: Are cats good for the soil?
Me: (pause) No, cats aren’t very good for the soil. (Unless they are dead, I thought but didn’t say.)
Elle: Mama, are people good for the soil?
Me: No! People are bad for the soil! Well, except I guess some people are good for the soil, if they’re paying attention (or dead).
Elle: Oh. Why, Mama?
Me: You’ll find out when we go to our farm. I’ll tell you then. (Meaning the local organic CSA we just joined.)
Elle: Mama, is grass good for the soil?
Me: It depends. If it’s raggedy and tall, then yes, it’s probably good for the soil. But if it’s cut and bright emerald green like that over there (pointing to someone’s manicured lawn) it’s not good for the soil.
Elle: Oh. Why, Mama?
Me: Because someone put chemicals on it to make it look like that.
Elle: What are “emicals”?
Me: Chemicals. Um. Well, what nature makes and what God makes is usually better than what people make. Usually. And chemicals are people-made. Elle, hurry up!

At this point, she was lying on the sidewalk waving her feet in the air. “Hurry, hurry!” I shouted. “We’re in a rush.” Which was only half true. I was in a rush. She was not. And if I weren’t me in my hungry tired skin, I would have been routing for her version of the way events were unfolding. What’s so wrong with a little kid outdoors exploring nature on a beautiful day?

Recently, I feel sad most of the time because I wish I were spending more time with Tom. I also wish I were spending more time with Elle. I also wish I were spending more time with Jay. I also wish I had more time to write, more time to see friends, more time to play my guitar.

So what’s wrong with this picture? A friend of mine, another mom, said, “It’s like having an avalanche of roses. Your life is filled with so many good things. But even an avalanche of roses would hurt.”

Tomorrow we are recording our family DVD at the University of Hartford. This is a veritable dream come true. And it came about as one of those “The Secret” manifesta-ramas. Katryna and I were talking about how we really should have a DVD, and wouldn’t it be great if our friend Ed McKeon would produce it, and oh, remember how WGBY wanted to show a live film of ours as a fundraiser, and then out of the blue, Ed emailed and said, “You need a family DVD and I want to be the one to film it!”

Dream. Come. True.

But dreams require a lot of elbow grease. Katryna has been like one of Santa’s elves making magic at her house, designing and creating a set for the show, driving back and forth to Hartford to check out the space. Dave has been practicing his many instruments and organizing the band. I have done nothing, but I’ve worried a lot about how I’m going to get through a day of performing and recording without sizzling with anxiety. There’s a lot of pressure one has to contend with when one is handed one’s opportunity on a platter. I have a million fears:

It won’t be good and we will have wasted everyone’s time.
Everyone will be good except I will suck.
I will be too tired to even strum my guitar.
Everyone will be mad at me because I am not breastfeeding them/telling them a story/allowing them to have a Saturday off.
It will be wildly successful but I will look ugly in it and everyone will say, “Oh, the Nields–that’s two sisters, a pretty one and an ugly one.”

Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to just live safely within our margins and not probe the edges? This is why I am glad we just spent a few days at Kripalu. Whenever I am there, I am always reminded of the basic yoga teaching, “Go to your edge,” and the corollary, “Grow or go.” I could live safely, but that would not be good for the soil.

Today, Jay’s very first bottom right tooth poked my finger when I wiggled it around his lower gums. “Your first tooth!” I howled with glee, and he responded by laughing and doing knee bends on my lap. He truly seemed so pleased with himself. He is growing. I don’t know whether he has any choice in the matter, but I do. For myself, I will choose to grow, too.

The Comments

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  1. Oh, please. Your DVD will be wonderful, and I’m sure my nieces and nephews will adore it. And I’ll keep a copy for myself, too. 🙂
    This is a good thing. Be confident that your joy and happiness that are so evident when you perform will radiate from a DVD. You’re Easy People.

    Best of luck with the recording!

  2. Hey, you listed all the worries, all that could go wrong–but you forgot the basic tenet of cognitive therapy: you can choose where you focus your thoughts, and to remember to at least acknowledge the positive ones, too. So, what are the things that might go RIGHT, as well? And, hey, if it doesn’t turn out as something you can use for a DVD, so what? You’ll try again. Not many professional-level DVDs are made in one day, anyway–so if it DOES turn out, it’s an unexpected blessing…. Most of all, I want to say: I get tired just LOOKING at your schedule! What is wrong with resting? You do have choices, dear one–now is the time to teach yourself and your kids that “rest” and “recharging” is not what you do when you have the time. It’s as essential as food, air, water. It is life itself. If you don’t choose it soon, your body will probably do it for you. And I know first hand that this way is not usually pleasant. Good luck!

  3. Just so you know you are making a difference in someones life, I wanted to let you know what happened last night…Henry was in the bath and Mia was horribly sick with allergies. I picked her up while watching him in the bath and started singing your new version of Hush Little Baby. She stopped crying. But then I looked over at Henry and his little bottom lip was turned all the way down like he was going to burst into tears-which he did. I lifted him out of the bath and he cried and cried, begging me to sing him the song. Finally when he had his pjs on I did sing it to him and he burst into tears again….the old version never had that affect on him, but your version is so much more beautiful and he is a sensitive guy. Thank you and enjoy your recording today-you WILL be beautiful and wonderful and I am quite sure you will move many.

  4. You guys are going to do an awesome job filming the show and we can’t wait for it to come out!!!

  5. Hi Lisa,

    Wow, that story about Mia and Henry is maybe the best gift I have ever been given! I am so happy he likes the song. Maybe you can make up some more verses, or maybe Mia and Henry can!

    love, Nerissa

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