Tina Parker

Just Keep Driving--On Despair

Date of Post: 
Tuesday, March 1, 2016

I have been thinking lately of the emotions that drive the poems in my collection Mother May I—or rather trying to name and claim those emotions. I came up with desperation. I wrote many of the poems in Mother May I during a unique point in life.  I was a stay-at-home mom caring for two young children I was tied to them in a desperate way—I breastfed both of them and refused to pump so that they had to depend on me entirely. As infants, they ate every two-three hours which meant we were a package deal, tied together day after day. We lived in a bubble, and I wanted it that way. Except when it made me a little crazy. And then I was desperate to get away from them. I wanted nothing more than to be out in the world again. I wanted to eat out, shop, and get my hair done. By myself. When I did have a chance to get out by myself, sometimes I had this urge to just keep driving.

Now my children are far from nursing age. They are in elementary school, and their activities keep us out and about in that world I used to long for. We are together for a small sliver of the day, as opposed to the hours and hours of time we had together when they were very small. I still have moments of desperation in this phase of our lives. But instead of wanting to pull away from them at times, I am desperate to hold them close as they go happily into worlds I am not a part of.

There are times like this week when I even feel my heart sink to my ankles as I drop our daughter off to rehearse for her first ever play performance. She’s excited and nervous all at the same time. She gives me a big hug and waves goodbye. No drama. No separation anxiety. Unless we count how I am feeling. I am desperate to pull her to me and take her away from the group she’s joining.

I have a whole hour and a half to myself until it’s time to pick her up, but I don’t know what to do with myself. I feel lost and aimless. I have that urge to get in the car and drive, but I’d rather just circle around the building she’s in and stare at the door until it’s time for her to come out.

So I have named this emotion “desperation” but I’m not sure how it feeds my poems. I just know on some very basic level that it does. Perhaps these desperate moments make me hyper-aware of time and I feel compelled to attempt to capture it in my writing. Perhaps when I am empty and lonely in this way I’m more likely to fill pages in my notebook. I just hope this desperate tension between wanting to push away versus fighting to hold close can continue to move my writing forward.