I had heard a lot over the years about Gifts From The Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I had never read it. Since it was on the Modern Mrs. Darcy list of 20 life-changing non-fiction books you can read in a day, though (along with one of my books!), I decided to pick it up. It was indeed short. I am pretty sure it was not life-changing for me, but I have a high bar for things to be life-changing. I like my life; I do not particularly want it changed. That said, there were some decent moments, and I can be happy with a book for that.
But this post is not about the book itself. It is more about one of her images. Lindbergh describes various states in the life of a woman through the metaphor of sea shells. The stage when you are in the thick of kids and their busyness? It is an oyster bed. You and your spouse are no longer two people tied solely to each other. “Marriage, which is always spoken of as a bind, becomes actually, in this stage, many bonds, many strands, of different texture and strength, making up a web that is taut and firm,” she writes. These bonds dig you into life and community, spreading unruly across the rock.
I have been feeling lately that there is something to this. I anticipated many aspects of parenting, but not the sheer volume of people and bonds that four children introduce to my life. I am one of three, but we were quite far apart in age. The idea of a big network that grows because other people are out meeting people, and then (of necessity in the case of small kids) getting you involved is both strange and fun. My children are all social creatures. We are no where near where this will max out, as only three of them are really capable of having their own friends at this point. The baby is possibly the most outgoing of them all. As the number of play dates and activities increases, I feel the oyster bed growing. It digs into this little rock in southeastern Pennsylvania in a way that would be hard to pry off.
To be sure, it can be a bit unruly. The mental work involved in keeping track of all the social calendars takes time. On the other hand, it is kind of nice to have people appearing in my life because my kids have convinced other kids that they need to get together. It takes a lot of the awkwardness out.
In other news: Trunk club update. I wound up keeping all 3 dresses, and the skinny jeans. I will use the occasion of purchasing the black skinny jeans to encourage me to buy a fabulous pair of black boots. And I decided I would wear the black lace dress to a Christmas party or some such. So there we go.
Photo: Snapped at Longwood Gardens over the weekend. Perhaps this is the floral equivalent of the oyster bed.