In Progress

Maybe the reason people love gardens is that they contain all kinds of answers about life (even capital L). I’m writing a story about them at the moment and love one person’s description: “A garden is always a work in progress.”

In other words, you never finish.

My very long Saturday in the midst of my solo parenting stint began at five-thirty in the morning. Crying three year-old, needy tween, and very exhausted mama plus conflict-fearing eight year-old tangled and the result was not good. We pulled it together although I can’t say how exactly. I know it had everything to do with this phrase: moving on. We moved on. We had a big day. Things got more fun (plus, I whooped my guys at Yahtzee twice before nine AM and it was one of those moments when the dice g%&ds must’ve smiled upon me out of pure merit).

The day had so many lovely parts, including the gorgeous sunshine.

Old friend from my earlier organizing days here with some time on her hands allowed us just to hang out (till midnight with the tween, much of the day, with the big event being a walk to the winter market and the CVS), with the conversation ambling the way it does with old friends from family to the eleventh hours dealings in DC over budgets and Planned Parenthood, from abortion apologists to women-in-the-middle feminism to paint colors for old houses and tales of renegade roofers.

There was impromptu meeting with baby Mo (like a tiny living image of his papa) on our front porch and not as impromptu play time with our two cousins and I’m not putting that word in quotes: the friend-as-family pal in and out of daily life constantly and the first mama’s half-brother’s son, so shared maternal grandfather by actual blood. Open adoption can let you claim your family all along rather than wait and seek them out later (is it more complicated than that? Heck, yes and families always are). In any case, family is and can be both complicated and easy: always a work in progress.

The capstone to the very long day was managing to get to Hampshire for the big fete—and toasts, including the honor of making one—at the CLPP reproductive justice conference. My Hampshire family is inextricably intertwined with this part of Hampshire (CLPP stands for the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program). I don’t really have words for how much you can be fed deep in your heart by witnessing the unlikely circumstance of over 1000 activists coming each year to a conference that first had maybe 30 in attendance and that was not seed-funded by a Gloria Steinem feminist but a man of a generation and background that doesn’t generally put feminism at the top of the priority list. Beyond the way CLPP has fortified and served to coalesce all sorts of political organizing, the learning part, the inspiration and affirmation that comes from finding one’s own stories and selves changes lives. It can’t get better than that.

I raced and raced and relied upon the Village big time to get to Hampshire (one boy to bar mitzvah with a hurried call to the friend escorting him there that actually I could not pick him up, uh, sorry about that and the other boy at a friend’s house and milk in the bottle for the ride home from Arella’s house and standing up on stage to give a toast with my three year-old wandering there too, in order to know where I was, after busily and gleefully playing with a new five year-old friend). Afterwards, I got the most overtired three year-old practically in the universe to sleep and the tween walked in, five glow sticks around his neck and having just had a great time at the party (but not having eaten much, either) so we sat down, on the couch with bowls of cereal and talked about our evenings, capstone of another sort, but capstone for sure.


Speaking of reproductive justice, I am raising money this month for the National Network of Abortion Funds as a virtual bowler. You, readers, are my team! Please support access to reproductive health care. As we saw this past week, plenty of leaders are willing to go to extreme measures to deny women access (say, shut down the Federal Government). Sisterhood is powerful. That’s good, because we need it to be.

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Author: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser's work has appeared on the New York Times, Salon, and the Manifest Station amongst other places. Find her on Twitter @standshadows

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