the moon and the tide

Leslie Jamison has one of many essays in the new collection on writers and money, Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living. It’s a good one in the collection, and it’s this quote from Raymond Carver that I’m still thinking about:

“I remember thinking at that moment, amid the feelings of helpless frustration that had me close to tears, that nothing—and brother, I mean nothing—that ever happened to me on this earth could come anywhere close, could possibly be as important to me, could make as much difference, as the fact that I had two children. And that I would always have them and always find myself in this position of unrelieved responsibility and permanent distraction.

I’m talking about real influence now. I’m talking about the moon and the tide.”

The moon and the tide! Jamison uses this excerpt as an example of rare and raw honesty about the constraints of parenting, and I like it for that too. But the moon and the tide also packs in it something both constraining and deeply grounding. It’s just a stranger, richer thing, parenting—not merely a limitation or distraction, but not a fully life-giving source either, though it can include both of those things.