In the middle of a word, the point of my pen broke and tore right through the paper. My favorite pen – just a cheap one, but it has the perfect grip, the right color, and the enchanting ability to make spider-scrawl legible. Despite the miles of perfectly wonderful writing left in it, it was rendered useless because the tip of it broke off and left it so sharp that it bled ink and ripped everything it touched.
Probably because I’m stubborn (whatever) I determined to resurrect it with salvaged parts from an expendable pen. Turns out, it also takes one patient husband and three pairs of pliers, but fifteen minutes later the pen was back in action. My fingers were covered in dark blue splotches and I thought, “Oh…Jo would be proud.”
We’ve been reading Little Women, all of us, aloud, on the weekends.
Last weekend we were six hundred pages into the book, and Vince handed it to me when we got to that certain chapter. You know the one.
And I was fine – amazed myself, really – until I read this:
So the spring days came and went, the sky grew clearer, the earth greener, the flowers were up fair and early, and the birds came back in time to say good-by –
– and my voice escaped me. Nothing would come out, and I handed to book back to Vince.
Afton looked back and forth at us. “Time to put the book in the freezer?” He’s eight, and I swear he’s never seen an episode of Friends in his life.
We made it, though. Vince and I had to take turns through the rest of the chapter.
We’ve been taking turns a lot lately. I was in the depths of despair recently and felt completely walled-in over never leaving the house and never talking in person to humans who are taller than me, except for an hour on Sundays before and after the service.
I was blue, sharp, and feeling overused. My top blew off and I realized I’d been bleeding on my kids, who were starting to tear into each other.
Poor Jo! These were dark days for her, for something like despair came over her when she thought of spending all her life in that quiet house, devoted to humdrum cares, a few poor little pleasures, and the duty that never seemed to grow any easier. “I can’t do it. I wasn’t meant for a life like this, and I know I shall break away and do something desperate if somebody don’t come and help me,” she said to herself, when her first efforts failed, and she fell into the moody, miserable state of mind which often comes when strong wills have to yield to the inevitable.
– Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
Aside from church, I hadn’t been out of the house in weeks. I hadn’t left the house on my own in months. And reclusive homebody introvert or not, I needed to breathe. I wasn’t meant for a life like this.
The objects which bore us, or the persons who bore us, appear to wear a bald place in the mind, and thought turns from them with sick aversion.
– Charlotte Mason, Home Education
We took drastic measures, though they probably sound silly to you. For three days in a row we took turns, and Vince sent me out of the house.
I went to the library by myself and browsed every section without a single interruption. I went to an appointment. I went to the post office. Once I ran errands with only half of our kids – the three who hadn’t been busted for lying that day – and I experienced the perspective that only comes when you discover that what you once thought was overwhelming is now quiet relief.
I started to remember what these days are meant for.
And once I met a friend for coffee. She is moving and goodbye is coming soon. We talked deeply about our past, our present, and our plans for the future, including at least one arranged marriage between our children.
In three hours we cried about eleven times, but I drove home almost fully resuscitated.
Meaninglessness inhibits fullness of life and is therefore equivalent to illness. Meaning makes a great many things endurable – perhaps everything….
– Clyde Kilby
The ho-hum and the agony diminished in the fresh air and I came home ready to finish this chapter, determined not to be rendered useless from a little breaking.
Miles of perfectly good ink are left in us, and we were meant for this. We work so well together because he’s a patient husband. And because I’m stubborn…probably.