FRANK TALK ABOUT WHAT WE DO WITH OUR LIVES

Entry #13 (2013)

“Bring us into your world. What is something about your work (past or present) that outsiders typically don’t understand? It can be something required by the job, something that happens on the job, something you feel about the job—but whatever it is, do not exceed 800 words.

It came as a surprise to me as well. All of it.

I couldn’t have known in advance. It’s impossible to realize until you are, at once, during a single instant that propels you on a journey that will last from here to forever more, submerged directly into the thick, unwieldy center of  it.

Where you begin is where you remain. Come what may, you will sojourn directly in the bright and deep and breathtaking and murky middle of the assignment. Until. Always.

There was no way to fathom the capacity for paradox the task held – the way it could simultaneously feed my soul and starve it, amply nourishing and relentlessly depleting with the same repetitive stroke.

I could not have understood how this solitary role could envelop every portion of my being – taking all the tiny fragments of self I foolishly believed I owned outright – and devour them, indebting and obligating and rewarding and rebuking and setting them finally, wondrously free.

It seemed the truest natural fit, a craving old as time that arose from deep within, beckoning ultimate, fulfilling actualization.

I wasn’t aware of the wounding that would take place, both theirs and mine, how our transgressions would overlap and intertwine and swirl together and unite us in the perpetual flow of generous pardon, an exquisitely flawed union of separate people engulfed in blessed Oneness.

My heart is tethered to each one of theirs. We are bound together, they and I, an investment I can not close. They have made me a force, raw and bare and fragile and strong and tender and fierce. They have made me proud. They have humbled me. Because of them I rejoice. Because of them I mourn. They have transformed me into a warrior on their behalf.

 “You love them all equally,” they say. Not me. I love them with delirious, unequivocal uniqueness.

I love one for her ability to reflect as a mirror back to me, a higher, better, more noble and lovely and upright and capable version of myself. The next comforts me with sweet affirmation of which I am able to deeply drink. To him life is pleasant and easy. I know I need not worry, the boy will thrive. Another teaches me to embrace the beauty and value found in individual eccentricity. With the extraordinary effort required on his part, he demonstrates we do not all function on the same plane, and that’s perfectly alright. The next reminds me to bounce and to laugh and to open my eyes and look to the sky and to outstretch my arms and that for joy to be contagious it must be be unleashed with reckless abandon. The little one softens me to the very core with immeasurable gratitude for the undeserved bounty of a most precious gift. The African Princess inspires me with her astounding resilience, her ability to overcome insurmountable obstacles no child should have to endure. The Ethiopian gentleman shows me that love can be a winding road and the meaning of true, I will stand for you even when you can not stand for yourself, you will be my people and I will be yours and we will grow in grace together, commitment.

A constant refining presence, they elevate my every motivation, stripping away energy for self consumption and filling me with pure, undiluted ambition.

I wouldn’t have been able to predict that the ceaseless constancy of the job at hand would reduce me to my lowest base state, exposing parts of myself that I didn’t know existed, pieces that must be subdued time and again. I didn’t expect the intimate relationship I would develop with my ever present, faithful companion, Guilt.

I couldn’t anticipate how my compassion would expand and fill and overflow and nearly burst wide open with utterly benevolent affection for another, where I would do anything, any possible or impossible, necessary or unnecessary thing for that person. That their best interest would become my best interest, their goals my desire, their loss my grief, their delight my contentment, their sorrow my pain, their victory my gain.

Motherhood is my profession.

It is my conscious choice, my empowerment, my strength, my weakness, my passion, my longing, my liberation, my prize, my drive, my fuel.

For better and for worse, I am eagerly, whole heartedly, gloriously, blissfully consumed.

Every facet of the occupation has placed an indelible hold on me.

My soul, hungry for achievement has been satisfied within the trenches of home life.

Trust me, I’m every bit as shocked by it as you are…

***

Back to the other finalists.
  1. This contender has all the charisma of a winner, exploring the oft-discussed topic of motherhood. You’d think after half a century of stories like this I’d be jaded – motherhood as metaphor; as political football; as tired a topic as the women working their tushes off in billions of households. Yet this writer managed to transcend ordinary and slingshot into a timeless accounting of the oldest profession on Earth, sharing her enlightenment about how raising kids is quite possibly the best soul medicine you can get. Excellent.

  2. Beautiful!

  3. Important. Relevant. Well-written. This is the winner.

  4. Lovely piece.

  5. “My heart is tethered to each one of theirs” is where it began for me. The rest of the words, though beautiful, rendered unimportant and left behind in my mind. A lot like parenthood, I suppose. All that came before the moment of understanding of the greatest love doesn’t matter once your name goes from specific to the generic and ever wonderful “mom.” This writer portrayed motherhood in a way most of us have felt but not articulated. Gorgeous. Brilliant. Haunting. Well done.

  6. […] Entry #13: Untitled (“It came as a surprise…”) […]

  7. […] also to the other finalists: Dan Madden, Julie Hall, Tasha Huebner, Tisha Deutsch, Rene Saenger, Jenny Hough, and Delcie Pound. I enjoyed all of your entries, but I would be remiss […]

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