On the delicate art of running away… and always coming back

I.

I am still, hot, languid. Utterly relaxed. I am fully, completely obligation-free. I am—did I mention? Still. Zen. And no one is budging me, no one needs me.

I am bliss. But no, that’s not right. Not bliss. I am just… still. I am paused. I am not doing. I am barely being.

I am—I was, for I am now back, but more on that later—I am “run away.”

(You might think I should have written “I have run away.” But I haven’t done anything. I AM. I am run away.)

II.

I’ve reached that terrifying age when, instead of wedding invitations and “We’re pregnant!” announcements, our friends are separating, divorcing. That one-in-two statistic? Playing out, in full force, among my friends, my loves. Sometimes, it makes sense (“How on earth did those two ever get together and stay together long enough to make two children?”). Sometimes, it hurts as much as if it were my own closest relationship being torn asunder (“But… but… you two are so… but I love you both! No!”).

Sometimes, they agonize over the decision, discuss, torment, suffer together for months and years before ending it.

But sometimes, he, or she, runs away, leaving the other partner, the family, in shock.

Runs away, and not metaphorically. He doesn’t come back from a business trip. He ends the marriage, the relationship, the family… by email.

Her friends rally around her. Condemn him (it’s not always him, of course; sometimes, it’s her. But in my life in recent years, it’s been mostly him). Show their unconditional love and support for her by unexamined anger and malice against him. “Rat-fuck bastard.” “Dickweed.” “Good men, sane men don’t do this.”

I go home and cry in my husband’s arms.

Because, you see—I get it. I get the desire to run away. And I get how, if the nature of this most intimate of relationships is such that you cannot articulate your (past-and-present) frustration, your (in-the-moment) unhappiness, your (intermittent-but-it’s-been-here-much-too-long) angst, your children-are-exhausting-the-house-is-killing-me-work-sucks-life-is-a-slog-right-now-and-I-don’t-know-what-to-do-about-it feelings… if you cannot articulate all that to the person you come home to, sleep with… one day, you will snap. And run away, fully. And not come back.

III.

In a life full of obligations, in a house full of three young children, I am mistress of the five-second, five-minute run away. I turn my back on the buttsacks ransacking the living room and screaming at each other, and give my attention fully, completely to the taste of chocolate. To that first, scalding, fabulous sip of coffee. I disappear into the bathroom. The bedroom. Put all the kids in the car… and then don’t get in for a while. Sell them to a neighbour and go for a walk alone. Lie very still in the sun while they run on the periphery of my vision, awareness…

Sometimes, I run away without actually physically moving. Just into my head, into my thoughts.

“Mom! You’ve spaced out again! Come back!”

I come back. I always come back.

But—I come back, willingly, only because I know how to run away… Does that make sense? I acknowledge my need to run away. And I fill it.

Five seconds. Five minutes. Easy.

Five hours—I need to plan for. Carve out. Insist on, when obligations get too intense. A full life—and a life with children, with family, with meaningful work, is always full, no matter what else you add on to it—is full of things that must be done. For me, running away for five hours here and there—that’s something that must be done too. It must happen.

IV.

Being present and being “in the moment” is all the rage in parent-lit and pop-psych right now. But it’s just as important to recognize, I think, that being sane requires being absent sometimes. And respecting, feeding that need in yourself.

If you don’t—if you deny it—when you snap—and you will snap—and you run away—you will not come back.

V.

I am, for the first time since I’ve had children, run away for… seven days. For seven days, I am still. On pause. Totally obligation free. Absent-from-children-marriage-house-work. Present-in-self. And sometimes, even not really present-in-self. Just… fully, completely, gloriously run away. Absent.

(I was going to run away to write. Instead, I sleep. I am still.)

VI.

I come back.

I come back—so here’s the thing—I come back NOT re-energized, not full of pep-and-zeal-and-new-plans. Better. I come back with “still” within me. I infect my children, my husband, my neighbours with it.

Not this still: My life is still busy. My house is still a disaster (my four-year-old asks his six-year-old friend if their contractors are also “incompetent m@th#rf*ck%rs” and I turn brick red as my elder two children waggle their eyebrows at me… “Where did he learn that from, huh, Mom, huh, Mom?”). My existential angst is still here (always will be).

This still: When I need to be fully present—I am, and I can give that freely, un-resentfully. Gratefully, even. When being present becomes fucking exhausting, too much—that five second, five minute run away makes me… find that still. Pause.

And—most importantly, perhaps—lets me come back quickly.

Reminds me, also, of how critical that five hour run away is, and to not neglect it, no matter what.

VII.

I’ve always know this about myself. That I need to withdraw, disappear, be absent from whatever/whoever it is that most often demands my presence (attachment parents, take note). I’ve (usually) done this, guilt-free. Joyfully. Occasionally, with a degree of almost-wanton abandonment.

My life partner has known this about me too, even before I fully-truly articulating it for him.

But here’s the funny thing: despite seeing, honouring and facilitating my run-aways for me… he felt guilty about his desire, his need to do the same.

There is nothing unique about my desire and my practice of being run away (or yours). There is nothing unique about his guilt (or yours). Worse, there is nothing unique about our—and yours—inability to articulate this need… never mind to our closest loves, but even to ourselves.

And if you cannot articulate your (past-and-present) frustration, your (in-the-moment) unhappiness, your (intermittent-but-it’s-been-here-much-too-long) angst, your the-children-are-exhausting-the-house-is-killing-me-work-sucks-life-is-a-slog-right-now-and-I-don’t-know-what-to-do-about-it feelings… if you cannot articulate all that to yourself… never mind the person you come home to, sleep with… one day, you will snap. And run away, fully. And not come back.

(“Didn’t you say something pretty much exactly like that already?”
“Indeed, I did. I say it again. I don’t want you to miss it.”)

VIII.

I am back.

I will need to run away—I will run away—I will BE run away—again. For five seconds, five minutes, five hours. When finances and circumstances permit, five days, maybe more (but first, the Daddy gets to run away for a longer stretch; it is only fair).

Because I know how to run away, I will always come back.

How about you?

Art of Running Away NBTBxoxo

“Jane”

P.S. My friend Sarah at Left Brained Buddha turns almost 40 this week, and meditates on this age and stage in a lovely way. Have a read: This is Almost 40.

The AP Hair Style: I don’t brush my children’s hair. It’s a massive philosophical thing. Really

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When my kids were teeny-weeny—but already hairy—my friends and I used to joke that you could always identify the attachment-parented kids at playgrounds and playgrounds by the “AP Hair Style.” That is—unbrushed. Unkempt. Wild.

Now, ya’ might think that’s a granola-hippy-natural kind of thing.

It’s not.

And you might think—goddamn lazy attachment parents, not with it enough to perform the simple task of running a comb through their kids hair in the morning.

Screw you.

Or you might think—if you’re a self-identified AP mama, perhaps—that it’s because… well, it’s not important. And there are more important things. Sleep. Play. Breastfeeding. Perusing the fair-trade-all-wooden-no-plastic toy catalogue. (I’m not making fun of you. OK, I am, a little. But–I’ve had that catalogue too. Chill.)

Nope. It’s actually really important. The not brushing even more so than the brushing.

Ready?

I didn’t brush—don’t brush—my children’s hair when they did not want me to brush their hair—because it’s their hair.

Hold on.

I’m going to shout it.

IT’S THEIR HAIR.

Part of their bodies.

I do not assault it, when they are unwilling, with a hair brush, any more than I would assault, do violence, on any other part of their bodies.

THEIR BODIES.

Their own.

Under their own dominion—not mine.

Their wild, messy hair? Part of the lesson that they’re learning that no one—not me, not nice Mr. Jones down the street, not that creepy dude in the park, and not their first, over-eager boyfriend—has a right to do anything to their bodies that they don’t want them to do.

This is a lesson our children need to learn, repeatedly, while they are close enough to us that they will learn it, hear it.

But we don’t teach it with words. We don’t teach it with scary lectures or with fear.

We teach with how we treat their bodies. From their nose to their toes, and all the parts in-between.

And their hair.

Think about that next time you wield a hair brush.

xoxo

“Jane”

COMMENTS FOR THIS POST ARE NOW TURNED OFF, so we can all have a peaceful weekend. And for those of you continuing the debate on other fora:  a not-so-gentle reminder that name calling is not debating. Criticize the idea. I want you to. No name calling or being nasty to other commentators though, ok? Not cool.

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Other People’s Awesome

For all the parents on the verge of *that* conversation with your daughters (and sons), here is a brilliant Dear Daughter, I hope you have awesome sex piece from the Good Men Project.

For the bloggers in the crowd having social media anxiety and overdose: Joel Comm’s I am leaving social media.

For the bloggers in the crowd who want an easier way to share my stuff and to have me share your stuff, come join me on Triberr, at Ain’t Nothing But a Blog Thing Tribe or, if you’re a homeschooling blogger, at Undogmatic Unschoolers.

My neglected (by me) blogging sisters have been turning out all sorts of awesome these last few weeks. Jean at MamaSchmama wrote a beautiful I can make it home  piece into which she sneaked some lovely introductions to some of her favourite (and mine—she is clearly a woman of immaculate taste) bloggers. Kristi at Finding Ninee wrote what I think is a love letter to her son titled Forgotten Loves  that will a) make you cry and b) make you hug that squirmy love in your live extra-extra-hard—and Rachel at Tao of Poop was clearly on the same page with I Used to Love.

And while I’m tugging at your heart-strings, let me turn you over for a few minutes to Jen at My Skewed View, who delivers a birth story so poignant I’m tearing up as I remember it, and I read it more than a week ago: Eight Years Ago Today.

Jessica at School of Smock wrote a great piece about why pregnancy books now piss her off  and Stephanie at Mommy Is for Real reminded us all why we never eat out anymore. With our children anyway.

And Sarah at Sadder But Wiser Girl was also full of advice last week. She tells you to always check your underwear (and then some… you might need to change your underwear after reading Sarah. Just a word of warning). Jenn at Something Clever 2.0 also made me pee this week. So maybe read this post before changing your underwear…

Deb at Urban Moo Cow made me really, really, REALLY happy I don’t have a toddler anymore. Can I admit that? I can. I’m good with that. I don’t want any more babies, either. EVER.

But I’m super-super-super happy that Stephanie at Where Crazy Meets Exhaustion is glowing. Really. (Note to my most beloved: Vasectomy. Now. No more babies. Ever. But that’s a topic for another post, perhaps…)

Last thing: new friends. I’m getting to know these people this week:

Dysfunction Junction

and you should come play with me.

-30-

P.S. Where the hell is your like button? I turned it off. Cause if you really liked it, I want you to tell me. And I don’t really need to ego stroke from the other. xoxo J.

Quote This: The universe’s random messages to you

Awards

From my fab friend and neighbour Crystal Moontree, who needed to hear this yesterday and thought someone else might too:

No heavenly being is waiting at the end of the line, giving out awards for sadomasochism. Give yourself a break.

Read In Praise of Calling It Quits at the Gala Darling Radical Self-Love Project for the full  context.

English: A Swingline-brand Stapler

From my “how could you move so far away from me” friend LD, via Unlawful Humour:

Whoever said nothing is impossible has obviously never tried to staple water to a tree.

I’d add… or clean a house with a three-year-old awake in it…

Agatha Christie

From Agatha Christie, via those annoying quotes WordPress chucks at you each time you post:

The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.

No, Agatha, it’s not. But the kitchen sink’s not a bad place at which to rough draft blog posts.