Monday, October 20, 2014

The War of the Words

As a lover of words and language, I actually enjoy ferreting out the perfect and proper words for any situation. And though I have little in common with Jonas' mother from The Giver, I know I have said "Precision of language, please!" to my students many, many times. When my friends tell me I'm articulate and eloquent, I feel like it's the highest praise. But this is one of those times when words are escaping me, and the complexity of their usage is leaving me confused. 

What's the correct word for feeling both blessed and overwhelmed? For feeling happy and sad at the same time? For feeling blessed with not one, not two, but three jobs I love (motherhood, teaching, and teaching dance) and sometimes, they all drive me crazy? Some days, I feel like I can decompress - but what's the difference between decompression and depression?

There are a million blogs and articles that outline the roller coaster of motherhood: the incredible highs, the crushing lows, and all the minutiae in between. But what about the flashing speed with which things change? What is it called when your day swoops and whooshes, and sometimes crashes? Then there's a peaceful lull…until the next turn? You can practically hear the clattering of the car as it click-click-clicks up the incline.

At the risk of sounding overly metaphorical (who, me?) I will offer some real-life verbal snapshots that all happened in one day, and maybe you can make something out of them:
  • The window I thoughtfully left open for cool air turned my bedroom into a freezer.
  • The sweet son who breaks into a run to hug me when I come home became a needy koala  encircling my neck. He will not allow me to put him down, and literally curls up his feet and howls when I try to put him on any surface.
  • My darling daughter makes me a beautiful picture with markers. It's heartfelt and detailed and precious - and in Sharpie marker that has seeped through to the couch.
  • The skinny jeans I was so happy to fit into are now too big at the waist and are continually snaking down my hips. While this is a positive thing, it means I spend more time hitching up my jeans than a cowboy. I have not the time, money nor energy to purchase new ones at this point. Yee-haw. 
This isn't the first time that I have had a tough time finding a word to ; when I was pregnant with my son, my husband called to ask what he should pick up from the store. The exchange went like this:
          "So what do you need, Marls?"
          "Um, you know, the stuff? For the morning?"
          "No, can you be more specific?" 
          "You know, the stuff that you put on the thing…(gesturing pouring with one hand while holding the cell in the other)"
          "I honestly have no idea what you are talking about."
          "The STUFF, Pete! It's white? You put it on the cereal!"
          "Um, (chuckle) 'milk'?"
I have a degree in Linguistics, but trying to come up with the word "milk" was like trying to pick up an ancient, crumbling file from a dusty file cabinet. I'll blame baby-brain for that incident.

Fortunately, my word-blockage isn't contagious. In fact, while I seem to be at a loss for words (or at least the correct ones), John Sawyer's long-awaited "language explosion" is taking place; he is stringing words and ideas together faster than he ever has before, and they happen to be hilarious. The other day, after I had smooched on his rosy cheeks, I told him, "John John, you're delicious!"

          "No, YOU de-la-la, Mama!"
          "John John, YOU'RE de-li-cious!
          "Mama, YOU de-la-la!"
And on it went. Two days later, out of the blue, while driving in the car, I heard his little voice peep up.
          "Yes, buddy?"
        "YOU de-la-la!" followed by fits of baby laughter, which might be the sweetest sound in the world.

So maybe the answer is a word I haven't learned yet. Maybe it's not paradox, parallel, dichotomy or contradiction. Maybe it's not a word, it's a feeling - a wave that rolls out and back in with regularity.

Tonight, I will leave you with the truest words ever spoken by my daughter: "Mommy, I still love you, even when you're mean."

Sigh…and the wave rolls out.

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