It’s Time to Take Your Feet Off the Ceiling

Gently, I pushed open my daughter’s bedroom door. As usual, she sat cross-legged on her bed, computer in lap, either virtual schooling or scrolling through Pinterest. Impossible to tell these days.

“I’m going to lay in my room with my feet on the ceiling,” I announced, “and then stare at them.” She raised an eyebrow, as though to ask whether I was kidding or serious, because, you know, it’s impossible to tell these days.

“You can do that in here if you want,” she offered, patting the bed. Crawling onto her fluffy black and white comforter, I rolled over onto my back somewhere between the Eiffel Tower and the word Love and placed my socked feet on her slanted ceiling.

She watched me, and typed either “amylose” into her science essay or pinned fan art from Be More Chill – impossible to tell these days, then looked up from her keyboard. “You know, I never do that.” 

“How can you NOT put your feet on the ceiling?” I asked – because these are the really important conversations that mothers have with their teenage daughters.

Honestly, I don’t remember her answer, maybe she didn’t answer. Maybe the question landed in that famed rhetorical space – because, even I will admit, resisting ceiling foot resting is not one of the really important conversations a mother has with her teenage daughter.

But sometimes it’s not the conversation that matters. It’s the moment. And in the moment my daughter invited me into her room to be more chill, something stuck inside loosened.

We talked. We talked about being in this strange place – in a foreign country, but stranded in a house, in school, but not in school, ready to move forward but with nowhere to go, because once again, we are in a pandemic lockdown. We talked about writing. We talked about feeling stuck, and how being physically stuck can translate into being emotionally stuck or intellectually stuck, or visa versa and inside-out until stuckness became a Venn diagram with a million overlapping circles, the word STUCK bold in the shaded center.

It made me wonder – what would happen if I cracked just one of those circles. Could the others shift? I hadn’t written in months. I couldn’t seem to dig beneath the dirty dishes, wrinkled laundry, struggling children or my own ragged heart to find a thought worth sharing. 

“Mom, you need to find something,” she said. I stared at my feet on her ceiling. Whatever it was, I concluded, this ‘something’ wasn’t hiding on her ceiling or written across my socks.

I kissed her cheek, excused myself, and sat at my desk.

Maybe I couldn’t find a thought to write, but surely, that could be something to write about.

Writer’s Block

Wind rattles words
against an empty door jamb
a threshold that is 
neither entirely closed
nor open.

The past 
grips the frame
with knuckles whitened.
Hoarsely the future calls
shunned so long
it’s nearly silent.

Wind rattles words
against an empty door jamb
aged ambitions 
little more than 
dusty footprints echoing down a hall
long forgotten.

Trembling fingers
rub temples
that once housed aspirations 
worthy of worship.

She reaches for a pen
certain that these particular words 
are desperate 
and deserving 
of more than 
rattling against an empty door jamb.

Vines of Perceptions
intertwined 
with Truth
beat within her chest.

Untold stories 
woven
trapped in 
chambers that are
neither entirely closed 
nor open.

All she must do
is find the courage
to share them.

Since that day, the circles of stuck have gotten a little weaker, pulled a little farther apart, the overlapping center shrinking, a Venn diagram dismantling.

I imagine this drastic “stuckness” is a phase, one that we all struggle with at various stages of our lives. Some people are mired in it now, as you read this, with pandemic restrictions tightening throughout Europe. Others are not, with the hope of a vaccine coursing through their veins. Mask’s on, social distancing, trapped in our homes, who’s struggling, who’s not – impossible to tell these days.

But if this might be you, if ‘stuck’ is dominating your bold, shaded center, perhaps the sage advice of my daughter will help you the way it helped me.

“If you want to move forward,” she would say, “It’s time to take your feet off the ceiling.”

3 Comments

  1. This hits the mark for me. Thank you for sharing. Now, to go so the things that take my feet off the ceiling. 💜

    Like

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