close your eyes

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close your eyes

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“he’s always closing his eyes. like it hurts to look at things.” — angela chase about jordan catalano, my so-called life

i’ve been rewatching my so-called life on hulu. as usual with my favorite series, i can’t stop. and god, it’s good. and why do i still think claire danes’ hair is perfect. why hasn’t that changed?

what’s also strange is that i now relate to the angela’s mother as much as angela, if not more. i watched this show in my 20s. i was nobody’s mother back then. it’s strange to think about it now. i can’t even remember. not really.

i don’t really think about my 20s much lately. having kids sort of forces you to look at your own childhood a lot more. and now, i’m growing more and more obsessed with thinking about teenhood. preparation, i suppose. and, of course, i continue to think about the present or the recent past-present: the motherhood years.

what i find when i watch angela’s mother is that she is stuck — between wanting to be in control and set all the right boundaries and wanting to be an open-minded, helpful mom. but the two things get in the way of each other. she’s simultaneously overly rigid and dying to let everything go. but she’s always ready for the next axe to fall. and as a result, she sort of has an uncomfortable stick up her arse. i feel like that too. all of that. especially the stick. ouch.

i can’t seem to find the balance of being open to the goings-on of daily life and simultaneously open to letting it all flow on its own terms. and kids, well, every day they happen. just the way they are. and (as angela chase reminds me) what they are feeling and seeing and believing is just as critical as what i feel and see and believe. i know this. so why do i feel myself constantly forcing the steering, veering off my own road onto theirs, forgetting about my own road. and then the over-braking and the gunning it back up to speed and back again. back on the right path. for a moment at least. most days, it is not a smooth drive.

i fantasize about being the kind of mom who sits (perhaps in a rocker with knitting needles and a VERY long scarf???!) and wisely doles out the kind of advice you want to live by. the kind of stories that open eyes and bend minds and set children free in their own right.

but then life happens, and i swerve all around in it.

have you ever noticed in that video game pole position (stay with me here) that if you barely move the steering wheel and just let all the cars and catastrophes and turns and roadblocks and oil slicks and collisions and lovely green scenery pass you by. if you just focus on the mountains in the distance and hold her steady that you get a lot farther. but for some reason, that game makes me wanna react and steer wildly and crash and burn.

i’ve always wondered if it would serve me better to just close my eyes and cruise the whole damn way to the finish line.

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6 comments

  1. Beth Partin · August 17, 2009

    I loved My So-Called Life and really wished they hadn’t canceled it. It was such a good show.

    This is a great blog post too, BTW.

  2. Emily perry · August 18, 2009

    Oh, I am going to have to watch that on hulu. I totally miss that show! But I know what you mean about the balance thing, knowing when to be soft, and knowing when to be firm. There are times when we just have to let go…. argh. Absolutely brillant shot, btw. I am swooning!

  3. Tammie Thomas · August 18, 2009

    I think about that alot lately too, My so called life. My dad recently passed and my kids are growing older, me too. My childhood is still floating around me. Death brings it closer.

    Motherhood once your there it never ends. The balanace between where I begin and they begin can sometimes be that be so out of balance. Finding the balance I struggle with too!

  4. phoebe · August 18, 2009

    “so why do i feel myself constantly forcing the steering, veering off my own road onto theirs, forgetting about my own road. and then the over-braking and the gunning it back up to speed and back again. back on the right path. for a moment at least. most days, it is not a smooth drive.”

    YES. And beautifully put.

    And — back in teh day when MTV was playing all the episodes — I so luh-huv’d MSCL and so over-related to Angela that I get the same kind of squinty cringe going when I think about it, that I do when I think back on my actual real life high school experience.

  5. phoebe · August 18, 2009

    and this photo! wow.

  6. Michele · August 27, 2009

    I want to be that mom in the rocker, too. I love your thoughts on pole position, letting the traffic go…I am reactive… Perhaps more rocking, more knitting (I should start), more eye closing, more clarity?

    Love this post!

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