FF – Focus on the trees…

My story for J Hardy Carroll’s intriguing picture follows it. Jump straight there if you don’t want to read some of the musings that almost certainly fueled its creation.

This parenting lark isn’t easy. Sometimes it feels like a constant weighing between immediate gain and long-term gain – taking a toddler to the park is nice, but wrestling a toddler out of the door to go to the park, then out of the park and back home, means you spend roughly as long cajoling / arguing / negotiating (and therefore making him unhappy) as you do playing (and making him happy). Is it worth it? Equally, when a baby can’t sleep because his teeth hurt, or a preschooler can’t sleep because it’s so much more fun to recite endless stories / TV shows, you can spend as long, and as much energy, persuading them to lie down and rest their poor tied body as they get back from the eventual sleep. But if you don’t, you have a cranky child making both of you miserable for the rest of the day. Is it worth it?

So I’ve been thinking about the long-game and the medium game, and the immediate game, and I still have no idea, but when you read my story, I think you might get a sense for how I feel deep in the jungle!


Forget the wood, focus on the trees

Stepping onto the path, she looked ahead, then tightened her grip on the little hand that rested in each of hers. Beyond the trees, a thousand uncertainties away, their destination was invisible and unknown. Some said it was a restful place they would enjoy together; others that they would be separated; and still more that there was nothing there at all.

Whatever the truth, for now, she had only the path. The path, and two little boys clutching her hands in the sure and certain belief that she would guide them, help them, carry them through whatever it might hold.


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

36 responses to “FF – Focus on the trees…

  1. Yes, it can be a lot like that. But it can also have moments of unbelievable love and joy and astonishment, moments when you realize that it’s all worth it…right before you run into one of those trees. 🙂

    Cheers, Jen. Many of us have not only survived, but found joy (mostly) in the journey, as you know you will, too. Only sometimes the trees block out everything else.


    • Thanks Janet; I haven’t had time to reply to comments, but it’s been nice to read all the support as it comes in. Re-reading the intro, I realise it maybe looks like I’m asking “Is it worth it?” about the whole enterprise, but I meant it only in terms of those particular fights – is the fun of the park worth the fights before / after the park, for example?
      There is a great deal of joy, astonishment and of course love, in amongst these trees.

  2. I love the use of metaphors.. and this one is one that’s easy to understand even without the preamble, but maybe easier for a poet like me…. personally I think that as long as one enjoy the travel, the goal will loose it’s importance… Maybe you will like one of my favorite poets Karin Boye for this…

    In motion

    The sated day is never first.
    The best day is a day of thirst.

    Yes, there is goal and meaning in our path –
    but it’s the way that is the labour’s worth.

    The best goal is a night-long rest,
    fire lit, and bread broken in haste.

    In places where one sleeps but once,
    sleep is secure, dreams full of songs.

    Strike camp, strike camp! The new day shows its light.
    Our great adventure has no end in sight.

  3. Hmmmm. Thoughtful stuff. Makes me wonder what the fate of them will be. You’re doing great, Jen. Keep it up!

  4. I almost always leave your site having considered a point or a subject in depth, and with my knowledge enhanced. Today was no exception, when I contempated, and then researched, the use of the words ‘metaphor’, and ‘allusion’, before deducing that the correct term for this piece is an ‘allegory’. So thank you. And having sampled over the last few days only a brief taste of what must represent your daily life right now… Chapeau! as CE Ayr would say. And good writing too! 🙂

  5. I’m at the other end of the path, and all I can offer is that what you’re doing is all one can do. So congratulations for discovering that so early. It’s the hand holding that’s important. Great story. I loved it.

  6. Been there, made it through the forest, it was worth it! A very interesting take on the prompt.
    And to you, your efforts will not be in vain.

  7. Worth every minute – even when they break your heart and try to be mean to you. You’ll know they still love you and you them.
    Nice spin on the prompt too – my own story took a mysterious turn too. A dark photo, though 🙂

    • Thanks, Lynn. I’m not sure about every minute; but I guess you can’t have the good without the bad. I’m hoping to read a few more stories today; I look forward to yours

      • Haha! No you’re right. Perhaps ‘worth it on balance, overall, though at times you’ll feel like strangling them’ is a fairer way to describe it 🙂 Though as my son’s only 11, he still had plenty of time yet to get me to change my opinion 🙂

  8. Dear Jenn,

    I, too,like Margaret, am at the other end of that path. Those little ones don’t come with sets of instructions. You’ve captured the moment of uncertainties in your flash and brought back memories. Hold onto those tiny hands whilst you can. Your intro was worth the read as well. Entirely well written.



  9. mickwynn2013

    Great description of the uncertainty of life’s journey. Very well put

  10. Parenting is part joy and part exhaustion. My duaghter is experiencing this right now with a 15-month old angel-cum-monster. All I can do is love them both and assure my daughter, and you, that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I should know – I had four.

  11. Mike

    A lovely piece of writing, about a very demanding role.

  12. I’m a little tearful reading this lovely essay. My boys are men now and oh how I would love to hold their hands again, if just to make their paths a little easier.
    Best wishes for your family,

  13. Holding two hands that are tiny yet larger than mine(teenagers) and I feel the same way. This piece resonated deep within me. Well done.

  14. I wish WordPress had a love button!

  15. I love this story, Jennifer – very tender, very moving, both full of hope, and somewhat scary in a nebulous way. And I love this line: “Beyond the trees, a thousand uncertainties away, their destination was invisible and unknown.”

  16. gahlearner

    I love that line too, and I think your story answers the question you pose in your intro. I’m not a parent, but it doesn’t matter, it applies to more than parenting. You do what you can do and make it worth it.

Feedback feeds the muse. Join in the conversation here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s