What Was That?

If I hear the word “poop” once a day, I guarantee you that I hear it a hundred or more times. My boys seem to grow more fascinated with the word the more anathema I deem it. At ten and five, I wonder when they will outgrow their preoccupation, when it will cease to be so seemingly endlessly obsession-worthy. I wonder, too, whether my calling attention to it, demanding the constant references end posthaste, serves to prolong the behavior. But seriously? I have to call a halt to it when it reaches a certain level of disgusting and inappropriate. Still, I try to be clear that if we need to talk frankly about actual bathroom habits, that’s fine and we can be as descriptive as we need to be without need for embarrassment on anyone’s part. I wonder whether that comes across when I catch myself multiple times a week exclaiming, “All done poop. No. More. POOP!!!”

So how in the world does poop tie into my exploration of the Tarot through Lyn Thurman’s “Writing the Wisdom of Your Soul”? Well, the last three days of this past week were, in order from Wednesday through Friday, The Wheel of Fortune, Justice and The Hanged Man. I can tell that Lyn has been thoughtful in constructing this challenge because I can see how these three are working together to prise open a door in the bottom, back, hidden, darkened corner of my psyche. I summarized Lyn’s prompts into three questions that, when answered together, point to one spot I’ve been fastidiously and stubbornly ignoring: my home. My definition of “home” includes my actual house, the wonderful people who share it with me, the possessions I cherish, and the luxuries there for which I am grateful.  

There’s another dimension of “home” that incorporates how comfortable I am in my choices – that’s where the Wheel of Fortune enters. The core question here is “What decision(s) have you made that had far-reaching consequences?” The most obvious answer is “To have children.” The more complex answer is “To be a parent.” Wait… Isn’t that the same thing? No, not exactly. Why? Because a person can create a child then choose not to parent them in a thousand ways. By aborting the pregnancy or giving the child up for adoption are the two most extreme examples but not necessarily the most common. Even cases where one parent chooses to be entirely absent from their child’s life are relatively rare. In comparison, I offer up the times when kids are left to stare at the television or other electronic device for hours, when they are allowed to run amuck in restaurants, when they beg incessantly in the grocery store for the sugary, nutritionally empty cereal… And why, outside the confines of the Photoshopped parenting magazines and Top Ten website articles, ALL of these things will happen sometimes in homes that are, on the whole, loving and nurturing enough to produce a perfectly legitimate member of society. They might not be a revered world leader but neither are they likely to be a deplorable degenerate.

Here’s we segue to Justice: I am not the parent I hoped or thought I would be. I don’t homeschool my children yet (and may not ever), we eat out a couple times a week rather than having fresh, whole food-based, home-cooked meals, and I check myself out of the chaos of childhood regularly. So, what is my commitment to my soul-path that Justice entices me towards? While I freely admit that I have plenty of room for improvement, I try to graciously accept praise for my parenting when it comes rather than speaking out loud all the flaws that enter my head in response to each compliment. My commitment also includes finding and acknowledging my own ebb and flow between thoughtful parenting and developing those other areas of myself that are concerned with things that have little or nothing to do with parenting. What I’m aiming for is not really the balance of the scales that Justice holds, though… It’s more the innumerable pieces of a system that has a state that can be defined as either being in equilibrium or out of equilibrium with a margin of error within which the system still functions acceptably. Some weeks I will plug my earbuds in and write while ignoring my little monkeys as they tumble through the living room until one of them screams in pain or anger (it’s ALWAYS simply a matter of time, a “when” rather than an “if”). Some weeks I will ignore my household responsibilities or my writing so I can take them to their favorite playground for hours. I like to think that if we’ve avoided the emergency room and been able to tuck them into their own beds and kiss their cheeks last thing before lights out then we’ve made it through another day successfully.

This marks the arrival of The Hanged Man: What is weighing you down and how could you liberate yourself from that? Deep breath… Criticism. There is always a way to be critical of everything because perfection is a concept, not a truth. Everything a person does could be done differently than it is and any one person could hold the opinion that another way is inherently “better” than the way I’ve chosen to do it. This one is a hard one because it tries to leave the door open for insanity-causing pseudo-logic that would then say that ANY choice a person could conceivably make is valid. I would offer that there are plenty of options that should never be chosen, including some I think most parents have threatened, like leaving your kids at the grocery store when they’re acting like recalcitrant trolls. How to leave the criticism behind? Doing my best to let go of a desire to compare myself to other moms, perceived ideals, and even to myself when I know I’m having a less than stellar day.

I surprised myself by focusing on my parenting rather than my writing for these three cards. What I realized was that I’ve been trying so desperately to divorce my home life from my creative life (even though the majority of my creative endeavors are undertaken within my house) that it has ripped a deep enough rift to leave me drifting, only a thin thread tethering me to the ground. This kind of afloat feels terrible and I’m grateful for the prompting to bring my attention back to my family, my home… My heart.