The Road Taken

I dreamt last night.

The urgency and fear of it has left me now, but not its essence.

I was in a store, completely absorbed in some home reno project of some sort, of all things. Bonhomme was with me, being his usual adorable, independent, curious, handful self.

At some point, I realized he was gone. Utterly far away and gone.

As happens in dreams, I experienced the suspence and resolution all at once, and knew that he’d walked home by himself to go talk to Daddy, since Mummy wasn’t being any fun.

Walked home. Alone. Down an unending stretch of noise and speed, only by grace staying on the sidewalk as traffic hurtled past.

I wonder now, later, removed from the immediacy of the dream, whether it will always be this way – whether I will always be overwhelmed by guilt whenever I attempt to accomplish something not revolving around him, constantly weighing opportunity cost and harm.

Dearest gave me a lackluster “UmHmm, dear, that’s great” when I came home to him tonight, flush with the success of acing my Stats midterm (a killer class, upon which the passing of will determine whether or not I finally graduate), and then immediately launched into a diatribe on potty training and how our not-yet-three-year-old isn’t consistently progressing. Which I met with a passionately reasoned argument about how we can’t demand consistency of our toddler when we fail to provide it ourselves, arbitrarily applying underwear or pullups depending on Dearest’s desire to risk having to clean up a puddle or not.

Will I always be brought back to reality with such a resounding twang? My out-of-home accomplishments always overshadowed by what I didn’t do when I wasn’t there?

My dear and ever-dearer friend last night announced that Baby Three is on his or her way – not entirely unintentionally, but certainly untimely. She spoke about the near certainty that she will have to give up her career to accomodate her family’s needs – not her livelihood, but her choice of it. You see, it turns out that it’s awfully difficult to manage two under three, both in daycare, when both parents work different private sector shifts – and soon to be three under four. So the career, the life, the self she has spent a decade of university studies qualifying for and a lifetime dreaming of will get put aside, transmuted into something else. Something with regular, predictable, daylight hours. Something with weekends. Something still of her self – but not the self.

She told me how she admired me, how she didn’t know how I could do it – managing a challenging policy career, a part-time Master’s degree, a precocious and energetic and definitively hands-on child, a husband with limited (albeit temporarily) mobility.

I think she’s the braver of us two.

Like death being easier than divorce, living too many lives at once is infinitely easier than subsuming any of them. And this is what she is talking of doing. Of choosing, day after day after day, to put an essential component of herself aside, so that she can be for her children what they need her to be, as opposed to what she needs of herself. It’s worse than losing a life – that life is there, intentionally out of reach. Behind a consciously closed door. So that the fading dream is not the storming nightmare of losing children – but the lingering mist of a mindful choice not to miss them.

This one’s for you, Moonshine. Courage, mon amie.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

– Robert Frost, 1916

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1 comment so far

  1. moosilaneous on

    For an excellent little selection of other thoughts on this big topic, see http://highcallingblogs.com/7026/bump/
    It starts with an excellent quote by Madelein L’Engle!


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