Monday, May 19, 2014

The Margins

"If they give you ruled paper, write the other way."  Juan Ramon Jimenez 
Right now, both of my children are watching Wild Kratts.  We are all wearing pajamas.  I pulled a bag of mini-bagels out of my freezer instead of baking something for the playgroup we're going to this morning.

And I'm writing.

A few months ago someone, I wish I remembered who, tweeted "I like to write in the ______."  I replied "Margins."  I was trying to be cute.  I meant it literally.

And I do.  In my journal, I fill the whole page, top to bottom, left to right.  My script runs off the side of the page.  And it's okay.  I don't mind it.  I don't need to follow the rules or stay within the lines.

But the more I reflected on it, the more I realized how true it was.

I like to write in the margins.

I've been trying to build the life I want, with everything I love in it, by organizing.  By scheduling.  By asking for help.  By being efficient.  I've been believing that I needed to schedule in large blocks of time in which to parent.  Large blocks of time in which to write.  Large blocks of time in which to be a person, to exercise, to rest, to develop myself into a better, more self actualized, happier person.  I believed that if I couldn't find a way to block out this time, like other people did, then I would never find a way to be happy.  I despaired..

But that's not who I am.

I like to write in the margins. In the spare minutes of time I find throughout my day.  And I parent in the margins too.  When I'm patiently answering the long string of questions that BG fires at me on the drive to and from the library or grocery store.  When the fights or the moments of joy come up while I'm cooking dinner and I pause for a second to address it.  To teach.

That's the good stuff.

I've been fighting with myself.  I've been trying to impose my will on my life.  I've been resenting and struggling and worrying about the large swaths of life that were getting in the way of me creating a life.

But all the good stuff, it happens in the margins.  And you need the lines in order to have the margins.


It's funny because for the past few months, I've had a different post in my head that also had the title margins.  It was about needing to leave more margin in my day.

One day, this winter, I had the brilliant idea of scheduling both my kids for a free trial class at Gymboree.  I felt like the mom of the year.

And then a new mom friend asked if I wanted to meet her at the library for baby storytime, and I felt like I should say yes.  She hadn't asked me to hang out before.  I knew she was struggling a little and needed some support.  The library was close to the Gymboree studio.  There were 10 minutes in between.

And then I scheduled my grocery pick up for after that.

I felt like a genius.  I was the most efficient mom ever.  At least I planned it that way.

Well, you know how that goes.

All through the class, instead of enjoying my children, I was eyeing the clock.  We were going to be late for storytime. My friend was going to be waiting for me.  We couldn't sneak out of class early or everyone would judge us.  I clock watched anxiously as my children bounced and jumped and ran and giggled.  I missed it all because of the junk in my head.

And then when we were late at the library (and not even the latest!) I was so embarrassed that I didn't enjoy that either.  And I started worrying about if I'd get my groceries on time.

I think I held my breath that whole morning.  So much for efficiency.

That was the morning that I realized I needed to create margin.  I'm someone who just can't be that closely scheduled.  I need space to have peace.

But then I forget again.

The margins are where all the good stuff happen.  I need to get things done, but I need to create space.  I know this.  But then I start to fill that margin.  I get anxious, I get uneasy.  I worry about not being enough.  I fritter away the moments, thinking that if I just fill them with more activity, more productivity, more work, more personal development, more play, then that will fix the problem, fix me.

I need to find my own way.  I need to stop asking other people how to create my life because I really already know. I  keep circling around it, and then I lose it again, and that's okay.  That's how we do it, isn't it?  We get get closer and closer and then we get further again.

I don't need to create margin so I have space for more stuff.  The margins are the point.


  1. I'm so in love with this idea of embracing the blank space that is the margins. You gave it a name, that place where all the best stuff happens.

  2. YES. Creating that space can be so challenging.

  3. I feel like this post is going to change instead of just nodding my head in agreement, it's going to take a few days to sink in and meld with what I already know about myself. and when it does, I'm going to have that aha moment.

    I love how you are being true to yourself, and how you are allowing yourself grace as you muddle like we all do.

    And I love you.