This Is Us

This was my inner voice

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If I just tried harder, I’d be more successful.

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In my darkest moments, I imagined an alternate life in which I’d never chosen motherhood.

“What was the hardest age for you to parent?” I asked my mom one afternoon when my son was a baby. We were strolling through the cemetery near our house, past cracked, moss-smothered headstones, past old, forgotten lives.

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How many hours of screen time does your child get per day?

From nearly the first time I took my infant son to his pediatrician — back when my worries spiraled around breastfeeding and diaper-monitoring and the holy grail of sleep — the questions, and the underlying negative messaging about screen time, began.

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A few months ago, I stumbled across my report card from first grade. I squinted at the fading ink that my teacher, Mr. Opitz, had handwritten: Lynn has a knack for creative writing.

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As an aspiring writer in my 20s, I used to scrawl out a few pages in my journal every morning. Journaling helped me process my life, clear the top layer of sludge and complaints from my brain, and maintain a record of moments I’d otherwise forget.

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This morning I turned on the sink and there you were, soaking my thoughts.

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You’re almost there. You’re in the home stretch. There’s an end in sight.

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I had a vision in the early moments after learning of my brother’s death. I sat on the concrete stoop outside my home, vibrating with shock, waiting for friends to come and pick me up. In my mind’s eye, I envisioned an empty space between two worlds — Before and After.

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In the Maine suburb where I live, the hours of sunlight are stretching. The light crust of snow from winter is melting. Each day, when I check the local online newspaper, the percentage of people who’ve received Covid-19 vaccinations nudges up. If I squint my eyes, I can see a hazy, lingering future that looks more like our collective, pre-Covid normal. I can envision mask-less trips to the grocery store, driving my kids to sports practice and coffee with friends. A future, with any luck, in which my kids attend in-person school five days a week.

This Is Us

Maybe menopause is our body’s way of remembering who we used to be

Photo: Sean Payne/Flickr

Waning gibbous: the moon phase between full moon and third-quarter moon. A diminishment of light.

Lynn Shattuck

Writer on sibling loss, grief, parenting, wellness and mental health. Voracious reader.

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