Essays from
Giving Ground


Oh, there are lots of other mothers around - across the fence, down the road, milling around in the school corridors, waiting in the dentist's office.

Our eyes lock for a moment before we roll them up into our heads; we smile: the silent salute! And yes, we try to make time for a cup of tea together, just us, but usually our children are playing in the next room, and they are listening to our subdued conversations much more closely than if we were talking to them. It is difficult to really get to the heart of some matters with such an audience.

There are the mothers of young adults;  they commiserate with us from a safe distance. They've been through all this confusion already and know instinctively they mustn't get sucked back into the vortex. They have had to put a great deal of energy into saving themselves.

There are our own mothers and mothers-in-law. Some of them give lots of advice but it comes zig-zagging out of another generation. Some of them purse their lips and say nothing whatsoever. Don't they hear us asking recklessly, desperately, for their suggestions?

They hear us all right. But they have been so bloodied by meddling relatives as young mothers that this absolute silence is a pact they made with the devil years ago. They'll talk about anything else.

And there are lots of books, classes, counselors, clinics, teachers, principals, bus drivers and friends who haven't children, and thank heavens for them because they are sustaining, energizing, and full of delicious compliments.

But in the end it is we ourselves who make the decision to take some action, move in some direction, or none.  We move along as if on snowshoes, swaying to some internal rhythm, occasionally falling in a heap. It is not an easy walking gait, but then we are four feet off the ground, held up by the magic of it all.

Copyright 2011 by Pam Thompson

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Giving Ground
Superior National Forest
1223 Little Creek Road
Brimson, MN 55602