Do you believe in signs from the universe? I do. And the other night, I got one.
I think of signs as physical manifestations of our intuition. When we see a sign in something, our hearts are telling us what our brain hasn’t quite figured out yet. When I got this one, I was standing on the concrete floor in the unfinished area of my basement, going through a box of books destined for donation. When I picked one up and thumbed through it, a photo fell out.
Illuminated by the bare bulb in the rafters, was a picture of three-year-old me clutching my beloved doll, Linda. Our legs were intertwined, and we were wrapped in a fuzzy pink blanket. Our eyes were wide and round. At some point, the picture was cut into an untidy rectangle, so a swath of 80’s couch is the only visible setting.
I don’t remember using the picture as a placeholder, but it's classic Lindsey behavior. While I collect bookmarks, I rarely use them. Instead, I use Post-Its and receipts, grocery lists and cheques. Once I returned a book to the library with a $1000 cheque nestled in the pages (thankfully the superheroes also known as librarians quickly called me to retrieve it). It’s feasible that I had been using this small cutout photo in that way.
But finding that particular picture at that particular moment felt like more than a coincidence. That little girl and her doll feature prominently in my unmotherhood memoir, Free or Less, (currently in the querying process!). It’s the memoir, I’m currently avoiding editing.
I’ve been giving myself grace. It’s easy for things to fall off the plate in the weeks before Christmas. Office jobs ramp up in anticipation of time off. Personal to-do lists equate to part-time jobs from November to January. But I was finding time to write poems, edit short stories, and enter contests. Why am I avoiding the project most important to me?
Short answer: I’m scared. As the prospect of publishing this deeply personal book nears, it looms larger. It’s terrifying to think of my deepest, most vulnerable thoughts and feelings out in the world for anyone to read. But writing this memoir has helped me build so much understanding and compassion for myself and others. I truly believe it can help people on their own unmotherhood journeys, and help their friends and family understand the pressures and challenges of this unconventional path.
I’m 35 years older than the little girl in the picture now, and much has changed. I’m taller and wider. I have a few gray hairs and crow’s feet. The doll has been replaced with dogs—not children.
But that child in the photo is still inside me. She needs me to hold tight to what I love, to seek softness and comfort, while I do this important work. It’s work I have to do, for her—for me.
I think I will take the picture and tape it to my bathroom mirror. It will be one of the first things I see in the morning and one of the last at night. I’m going to remember to hold tight and let go, to look back and move forward, to be kind and brave.
Thanks, little Lindsey <3
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