• Kathleen Cassen Mickelson

Summer Solstice Marks the Turn

One Minnesota Writer needs to go in a different direction. I thought it was sort of amusing that I had ideas about changing this blog in sync with the arrival of the solstice yesterday. I am contemplating what else I can do as daylight begins its temporarily imperceptible ebb.

Ebbing has been on my mind a lot this past year. My daughter just finished her sophomore year in high school and is starting to look at which colleges offer the things she’s interested in. She’ll be out the door in two years. My son just had a child of his own in May. My hair is turning gray. Hell, even the dog’s hair is turning gray. It feels like time is shifting away from me in an unfamiliar way, eroding the very ground beneath me as it pulls back. And I wonder, in this youth-oriented culture of ours, how many people there are out there who, like me, haven’t thought much about how old they are until recently. Inside, I feel pretty much like I did when I was 21 except for the fact that my thought process is more thorough and I’m braver now.

Part of the past year has been a struggle to balance what I think I should be writing with what I want to do or think I should be doing. Writing about creative process was one way to try to get the balance in order. But, I realized this week that I don’t want to write about writing anymore. Who really cares? There are a million blogs that do that, that give advice and write how-to articles and invite wannabe writers to chime in. What I really want to write about is the very thing that consistently distracts me from my work right now.

Which is that my daughter Abby is growing into a woman and my relevance is not as critical as it was even a year ago. Which is that soon I’ll be living here alone with my partner. Well, and the dogs if you count them. My parents are already gone, so the number of people who need or want something from me is going to drop off as sharply as the Cliffs of Moher.

So, these next two years are sort of the last chance to make a big impact before Abby throws clothes all over the floor of some other bedroom in some other house. Or hogs up the shower while a line of roommates is waiting. Or runs out of money before the rent is due. Or falls in love and discovers that rejection is one of the most awful things ever.

This mother-daughter bond is a strong, elastic thing. It has to be stretchy with all the push-pull that goes into a relationship with a teenager who lives in the moment. Or a mother who can’t shut off her long-term vision. What I know for sure is that this bond is one of the strongest bonds I’ve had in my life, along with the bond I have with my son. And it’s completely different from the bond I have with my partner, who (one hopes) isn’t going to grow up and move out. The poignancy and wistfulness of the situation sometimes takes my breath away. Anything else that might seem important suddenly isn’t.

So, the hell with trying to share what I know about writing. Blame those writing prompts I’ve started posting on Fridays – I’m going to follow my own prompts for a while and write about life. And, yeah, I’ll still share the ones that pop up on Friday because it’s kind of quirky and fun. But when they stop being fun, there’ll be something else.

Life is, after all, constant revision.

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