Summer's Last Day (a Shadow Contrast Dance)

image credit: Ahmad Odeh

image credit: Ahmad Odeh

In Qoya, we take time to dance the Shadow Contrast because we know that whatever our feelings are, there are also contrasting feelings lurking beneath the surface that we often would rather not look directly at. Feelings that don't fit our current story. We'd rather not admit them to ourselves, or to anyone. They make things messy. In truth, however, we can't fully experience and inhabit ourselves if we don't honor all the parts.

That shadow contrast dance is one creatives instinctively know, even if we avoid it. Helping others dare their shadow contrast is a part of my work in the world...and sometimes I have to walk my talk and do my own dance, too. 

Yesterday was the last day of summer vacation for my teens. We spent the afternoon crafting and arting in the kitchen, picking an abundance of tomatoes from my community garden plot, roasting some of them, using some in ratatouille ("This is the perfect end of summer supper" said my daughter as  I put it into the oven), making a new batch of yogurt. Of course we bought ice cream to celebrate the end of a good vacation.

I can list what we did. But mostly, we just sort of hung around together all afternoon. Because they're teenagers. Because I know there won't be that many more last days of summer with the two of them in my kitchen, doing craft projects. 

So I want to try to articulate a side of parenting it's difficult to talk about. No one would call my afternoon yesterday "work." it wasn't heavy emotional labor. It wasn't the endless drudgery of diapers or taxi service. It wasn't homework support. 

What it was, was being on a clock not my own. Early fall has me buzzing with ideas, plans, enthusiasm for my work at Odonata Creative. For seeing new things emerge. for bringing disparate things together and integrating them into a whole. I have a thousand and two things to do. I have a business to build.

Days like yesterday are why it will take me longer to build it.

I don't believe either of my kids will remember anything about yesterday in a few years. I don't think the particulars will stick in their minds at all. Those unremarkable hours will be added into a generalized sense I hope they both take with them of togetherness, safety, love, acceptance that they will remember as home, as our family. Afternoons like yesterday are what every parent wants to give their child. I'm privileged insofar as I can. 

Afternoons like yesterday are also about sacrifice. It's about choosing (again) (and again) that being somebody's mom takes precedence over being somebody. 

I don't regret yesterday at all. I cherish it even just 24 hours later. I give up a prayer of gratitude for the opportunity of those hours to just be together with my kids. 

And I also recognize and honor the minute and invisible negations that had to happen to make it possible. 


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