Often it happens in the early mornings while I’m studying. Or after a busy day of kids’ activities, preschool, grad school, therapy. I’ll notice it start with a quiver, a tiny movement that stops my eyes mid-sentence. Or I’ll detect a tiredness in my back that seeps through my arms making them keep time to some unseen conductor. I try to stop it. I think, “I’m just over-tired” or “I’m too young” or “Please, no.” Sometimes I pretend it’s not there, I shift positions or dismiss it. Is it slight? Yes. Is it undetectable to my husband, my children? Yes. Could it be nothing? Yes. But it’s terrifyingly real to me.
You see, my dad has Parkinson’s disease. And so does my thirty-six year old brother.
Justine Dorton in her witty and delightful essay, Guilt says, “I don’t believe the mantra that women can have it all.”
My reaction to reading this statement is similar to Marlin’s response when he and Dory realize that the miraculous and lovely light in the depths of the ocean is the lure for a terrifying predator. He says, “Good feelings gone.”
For some reason, admitting that we can’t have it all (a pretty easily accepted fact for both women and men whether healthy or not) feels like giving up before the game even starts. Shouldn’t we at least try to have it all, make hard decisions along the way, own those choices, and keep trying?
I know that for me, I want to shake while watching my son’s T-Ball game (if shaking is indeed in my future). I want to shake through my classes. I want to shake while reading James or Austen or Walcott. I want to shake while taking pictures, while wandering in a public garden, while working, while mothering, while speaking in church. I want to shake and laugh and cry and be. I want it all.