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.
12 thoughts on “Oyster bed life”
Congrats on your new purchases! Also wanted to let you know I am getting your posts in Feedly again, in case you were wondering.
@MC859- woo hoo! This has been devilishly difficult to solve, so glad to hear it’s coming through again.
Yes I was surprised to see “11 new posts” in feedly on a sunday, but they were all yours from the past 2 weeks! Interesting concept in this post.
You’re still not showing up in my Digg reader, unfortunately.
But I can remember to check in! I read Gifts from the Sea pre-kids and remember being a bit “meh” about it and its approach to marriage. I wonder if I would like it better now that I have kids? I never felt like marriage should be a sacrifice (and I remember her saying that sometimes it is- but am perhaps not remembering correctly…. it was a long time ago), but parenting is definitely a sacrifice sometimes. And maybe, having decided to be a parent with someone, maybe I can see the point about sometimes you make sacrifices in a marriage in support of the greater good.
There is maybe a general point in that ramble, too… for books like this, sometimes it really matters *when* you come across them. There is wisdom that you are sometimes not ready to hear.
@Cloud – I don’t recall a whole lot of sacrifice talk in the book. Maybe that’s a different work? Gifts from the Sea happens while she’s taking a 2 week vacation from her family, which sounds…um…nice at times 🙂
And argh, Digg. Will keep looking.
I should perhaps re-read the book!
I’m one of 4 kids (and my husband is one of 6) so I know what you mean about having a huge web of social connections around siblings. One friend of mine from university actually independently knew all of my siblings as well (he was in the same year at school as one sister, met another sister when he was a bus driver for a night club and was a senior in the boarding house when my brother started)
Really though, if I want to find something out, my first port of call is the siblings. One of them will have a friend or a friend of a friend who is a landscaper or a graphic designer or a web site developer or a lawyer …
I do feel sad that infertility meant we’ve only had two kids, because I love the relationship we’ve all got (my husbands siblings are all really tight too) but I hope that their cousins pick up that kind of gap.
And I didn’t comment on the previous post, but the dresses looked great and skinny jeans + boots is such an easy combo. That plus a down jacket is the “Christchurch uniform” for winter.
@zenmoo – I really do hope my kids will grow up to have a close relationship. The friend overlap has been fun to watch. When one has a playdate that child is not always thrilled about the others playing too, but often it is all good, and so each child will increase the friend network for the others. Plus they all have each other to play with too. A normal Monday evening can be a giant playdate.
I am on the hunt for good boots!
I love the image of the web/oyster bed! Also I had to comment on your photo — I have that plant in my office but I never realized it could flower! Now I need to investigate how to make it happy enough to sprout those pretty blossoms.
@Sarah – apparently it can! Or at least in the hands of master professional gardeners it can. We have some plants at home that I have seen flowering elsewhere but have never flowered like that for me…
I’m reading the Little Book of Talent from the MMD list you mentioned. So far, so good.
Big fan of Sam Edelman booties. I own 2 pairs in 2 different colors and they’ve lasted well through several winters.
As a fellow mother of four I find this perspective illuminating and a little bit scary. Because as they’re getting older (I think my oldest is a few years ahead of yours) the balloon effect is amplified. It’s kind of nice, like you say. It’s definitely unruly. 🙂