One of the things that disturbs me about blogging, scrapbooking, and photography in general is that, more often than not, it presents a skewed perspective of life. When documenting our lives, we tend to include the beautiful moments, that one precious second when a child smiled, even if it was bookended by tantrums and meltdowns. While it’s lovely to preserve life’s beauty, when that’s the only snapshot we present, we participate in perpetuating the rampant fantasy in this culture that everyone else’s life is greener than ours.
A few months ago, I received an email from someone thanking me for my work. At the end of the email she said something like, “I love seeing your family in your blog. It seems like you have the perfect family.” I almost fell over, and immediately called one of my closest friends to ask, “Is this the image I’m presenting of my family?” I was horrified to think that I had, in any way, participated in the fantasy of perfection. My friend assured me that I portray a balanced picture of our life and that I’ve included plenty of our struggles in my posts. I took a deep breath and decided to trust her.
But I’ve thought a lot about that email. I’ve thought about how much I feel comfortable divulging about our struggles, especially when it comes to my children’s lives. After all, this isn’t a blog about family life; it’s a blog about transitions, and I’ve chosen to include our own transitions as a way to elucidate certain points and themes. I celebrate our changes in the deepest sense of the word “celebrate”, sharing the darkness as well as the light.
All this to say, that when I woke up this morning and realized it was Summer Solstice, my first thought was, “Ugh.” Last year, I felt inspired by our solstice projects and brought an energy of enthusiasm to the day. But today I felt tired. And I could see the same look in my husband’s eyes when I reminded him it was solstice. Still, knowing how important these days are to our kids, I reached into the pocket of negative reserve and forced myself to take action.
As Asher napped, Everest and I found pieces of bark, leaf fronds, and a sturdy branch. We covered the table with a white tablecloth and picked flowers from our garden for the centerpiece. We made a second fairy wand for Asher to complement the one we had made for Everest last year. At dinner, we talked about what we wanted to let go of and asked the fairies to help us let go. Everest said things like, “Fairies, please help me let go of grabbing things from Asher and help me bring in having fun with him.” He also asked to let go of his fear of death. We wrote everything down on the leaves, and wrote prayers for the earth and all beings on the piece of bark.
After dinner, as the sun started to set, we dressed the boys in white (Everest wore his beekeeper suit) and walked down to the creek. Everest played the recorder and Asher danced. Last year, we threw the leaves into the traditional summer solstice bonfire, but this year we decided to utilize the force of the rushing water and threw our leaf fronds into the rapids. The boys each threw one, and then we dashed back to the house to avoid being eaten alive by mosquitoes.
The ritual was lovely and our land is beautiful this time of year. My husband and I connected to each other and our boys rose to the energy of the intentional activity. And while I can’t say that the ritual magically lifted my mood or infused me with a rush of energy, I trust that our prayers, now swimming downstream on green leaf boats, will find their way to higher ears and that ultimately, eventually, over many solstices, equinoxes, birthdays, Shabbats, weddings, deaths, and births, we will learn how to let go.