The Curse of Parenting No One Tells You About

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School is in session. Well, not exactly. I’ve got a meet the teacher Wednesday and the first day of kindergarten is officially Friday.

I have spent the last two months at the snowball stand, zoo, swimming pool, beach, theme park, often lamenting my freedom. I have somehow created paintings during episodes of PBS’s Wild Kratts or when my now (suddenly and without warning) non-napper became enthralled with legos. Enthralled: not asking every two seconds for me to pull stuck bricks apart or which vehicle I like better only to disagree with me when I answer. Don’t ask me what I like more if you are just going to tell me what I like more

But here is the curse of parenting I never would have imagined and no one ever warned me about and the first thing I will tell my son should karma ever deliver him children of his own:

As much as your child exhausts you, as much as all you need is a little space to get some things done, the moment he or she is gone for an extended period of time and often in the care of strangers, the anxiety is tenfold.

I know it by now. I know that very anxiety will subside when routine takes over– when the great unknown of his teacher and friends and schedules bows down to soothing ritual. I will again, one day soon, paint in my studio without worrying what he’s doing and if he’s okay. I will look up to find it is already after three and rush to pick him up. But until then, Friday will be filled with clock watching and nail biting. I will try to paint and not be able to. I will have my phone constantly at my side just in case the school calls. I will hug him twice as hard when I pick him up.

At a writer’s workshop once, I was given index cards with single words on them and asked to make a poem. Each round there was a new challenge: use only these words, dismiss up to two, add up to three of your own. The parameters were so tight, so limited, I thought there was no way anyone’s poem would be worth anything.

But they were. Without all the excess, the poems seemed to open right to the heart of things. They were beautiful. To say summer limited my work time is an understatement. I was trying to keep up my routine and host camp mom. I dare say what I accomplished with those stringent limitations, if not thoroughly beautiful, is a great start to what is to come this school year when, for seven or so hours a day my job is to create. 

I hope you’ll follow along.

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Picture of Denise Hopkins

Denise Hopkins

August 7, 2017

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5 Responses

  1. Loving your blog, Denise! Not being a parent myself, I can’t entirely relate (Though I def get separation anxiety on the rare occasions I’ve been away from my dog Jersey for a few days). Yet reading what you are going through helps me to step back and look at my processes and what limits me.

    1. Thank you! Didn’t mean to leave you hanging about a collaboration. I don’t have any really well formed ideas, but feel free to shoot me an email– [email protected]— I’ve got some stream of consciousness thoughts about it.

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