This Is Us

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

If I could just figure out what’s wrong with me, maybe I could fix it.

Life seems so much easier for everyone else. I must be doing it wrong.

These harsh words were my inner voice, my unwelcome mantras, for decades…

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“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.

She thought for a moment. “Middle school was pretty hard,” she said…

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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.

As my son grew, our doctor’s receptionist handed us…

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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.

I was shocked.

I remember penning poems, generously shellacked with rainbow and ice cream-laden imagery in late…

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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.

But when my brother…

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

How long has it been since I’ve really thought of you? Wondered where you’d be, what you’d be doing, if you’d be settled or restless? How long since I’ve pondered how I might bridge the gap…

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

Soon, you will be able to write more. You will reclaim your life.

I whisper these little maybe-lies to my worn-down self. I catch glimpses in the mirror, then turn away. …

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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. …

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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…

This Is Us

Photo: Sean Payne/Flickr

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

The worst part of perimenopause is the rage.

It starts as a slight edge, a bite that creeps into my voice. An irritated tone, a generalized impatience with my kids. I check the app on…

Lynn Shattuck

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

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