Casey turns 4

Casey turns 4
tomorrow.
He will be sitting in circle time or
maybe getting ready to go outside
at 10:46 am
when he arrived
4 years ago
and made me a mother.

The exact time,
4 years ago,
when he was lifted out
and put on my chest,
squished nose and eyes
just squinting into the light,
where he began his journey
and mine took a sharp turn
in its trajectory.

Now, his short hair makes him look
older. Like a big kid.
He’s allowed to ride his scooter
half way up the street, alone,
and he’d go much farther
if I let him.
He constantly fights me these days,
defiantly beating down the boundaries we set,
pushing past his limitations
without stopping to think it through.

Such bravado.
It must be exhausting work being so brave, so fearless.

His sigh, as he relaxes against me
belies his tough act.
He’s still my little boy.
He’ll always be my little boy.
His short hair is soft under my fingertips.

Casey turns 4 tomorrow.

 

 

 

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Cold Wind

If I went inside at the first sign of cold, I would never have noticed the green tulip buds starting to poke through the cold soil. We would have missed the lone purple crocus that decided to open it’s face to the sun. I wouldn’t have been there to pick up my littlest for the umpteenth time when he tripped in the old rain boots he insists on wearing, letting him know that I am always behind him, always supporting.

If I went inside when the first cold wind beat at my face, we wouldn’t have been outside long enough for my oldest to practice his tree climbing and slip, scraping his hand against the tree trunk.  I wouldn’t have been outside to hold him and remind myself  how much he still needs his mama, even though he boasts all the time about being a “big kid” who “knows everything.”

I imagine how tough he must act at school when he gets hurt, wonder if he holds in tears instead of crying in front of his friends, glad I was outside today to hold him and let him relax in my arms and give him space to rest his tear-streaked cheek on my shoulder. If we went inside with the first cold wind, we wouldn’t see how soft we can be, or how strong.

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Shine

My children shine when I look at them-
as if their light is so bright it can’t be contained
within the boundaries of their excitable bodies.
They look out at me through glimmering eyes,
their vision highlighted by the brightness spilling
over their soft edges. Their world is full of possibility.

Sometimes, at night when I lay beside them,
when I hold them in my lap, savoring,
I smell their light through the tops of their head.
It takes on shape and color, texture, form.
I can see it when I close my eyes.

Their light lives inside of me-
although I could never describe it to you.
But give me blindness any day,
so I might collect their light, hoard it
until the world before me shines again.

ROAR

I’m sitting in the boys room. Casey is ensconced in his tent and Cameron is enthralled with watching his reflection, in his little mirror, as he threw a ball. We’ve recently rearranged their room and I’m quite happy with the results. Casey declared that he “has the prettiest room,” which is pretty high praise from an almost 4 year old. Although this is the same almost four year old who declares enthusiastically every time he farts, as if it’s never happened before, then becomes downtrodden if you don’t respond with equal enthusiasm. Still, I take what I can get these days as we move into what I hope is the end of the “threenager” phase. It’s a real thing- google it.

Casey’s newest game is to gather every single toy he can find into a huge pile somewhere. I’m not sure what he imagines when he looks at it but I find that it resembles a large trash heap inside my house, a sight which sets my anxiety into overdrive whenever I walk by.

I’ve been trying to become more mindful recently, more relaxed in my reactions to the events that life throws at my during each day. Possibly, this is some unconscious response to Casey’s new hobby, or it may stem from the brief article I read on mudras and meditation in a Yoga Journal I picked up at Whole Foods. It has sat largely untouched on our TV stand since bringing it home, save the one time I opened it and chanced upon the article. Either way, I’ve begun down this journey of becoming more mindful and it’s led me to a few startling discoveries. Like the other afternoon when I was standing in the kitchen and discovered that I could have cookies and kombucha at the same time without any guilt. Turns out I have all these unconscious rules that govern how I live my life, what I consider right and wrong; rules which, apparently, can be broken without earth shattering consequences.

Actually, over the last few weeks, I’ve noticed that many of these “rules” actually interfere with my ability to stay present and feel happy. When I am held rigid by a rule, like “no mess in the house,” I can’t relax enough to be present with my child as he gathers every toy and stuffed animal into a “fort” around himself and let’s not even talk about being present to what he is thinking, feeling, seeing. What a huge loss it would be to not understand this, to never learn to relax within this tension just enough to open a keyhole to peek through and catch a glimpse of his world.

Practicing mindfulness, a little bit more each day, I find that inspiring thoughts seem to rise up out of no where:

You are not responsible for other people’s emotions.

Things are changing all the time. This too will change.

If you’re not sure what to do, do nothing until it presents itself

I am sure that I have read all these quotes somewhere- in books, on pinterest, posted on facebook. But all of a sudden they seem to appear when I need them, like little drops of fairy dust helping me to learn, slowly, to fly.

It’s not to say I don’t have my bad days. Sometimes, like yesterday, I feel like a shitty parent because I wake up in a bad mood and I’m immediately thrown into the trenches of motherhood, losing my patience and reaching my daily quota of butt wiping before I’ve even finished my first cup of coffee, which is now cold. I yell at my children to much, I yell at my husband too much and I stomp around the house muttering about all the injustices of life, feeling overwhelmed and ignored and wanting nothing more then for someone to throw me a rope and help me find the strength to climb up and out of it all.

Then I leave the house and drive and drive and drive until I can think straight and get myself in order and find enough distance and breath to regain a sense of balance and lightness. And wouldn’t you know it, these inspiring quotes spring annoyingly to mind, reminding me that this is just one day, that I can not control what other people do, and also that it is unreasonable to expect people to read my mind.

Upon returning home, I find not a thing has been done and no one else’s mood has changed but I feel better equipped to handle it all. I have taken myself away to find my own rope to climb and I realize that this is good parenting. For my children to see me have a bad day is just a part of life. The important thing it that they also see how I am able to get myself out of it- at least I hope that one day they will see that. For now, I make jokes about how the tiger ROAR’s like mommy did this morning and take comfort in my boy’s laughter.

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Body wars

My body is a temple
and temporary housing.

She is a battlefield
and a field of wild flowers.

A triage center
and a place of refuge,
carrying nourishment
to the weary young
who batter around her feet.

She is bruised and blushed,
hugged and hallowed,
held aloft and dragged down,
tickled and touched
and tugged on,
stuffed full and left empty;
surviving on the crumbs of the day.

My body is a battle ground.
My body is a temple.
My body is worshipped and forgotten,
gently coaxed into flame
and often left to fizzle.

My body has been at war
and found peace-
we’ve learned to trust each other.
This body.
She is mine and I
I am hers.

Both boys are sleeping on the couch next to me. Their bodies have been battered by a stomach flu the past 24 hours but it feels like the worst is over. Or perhaps we are in a calm between waves. I hope not. I hope that we have made it to quiet after the storm.

I was plagued by a case of the should’s; all the usual suspects: laundry, kitchen counters, sleep, toys. But I ignored them all and did what my body wanted. I sat. In one of my big blue arm chairs, with a fresh cup of strong coffee on the table next to me, I sat with my feet up, fuzzy slippers trapping the heat of the sunshine coming in through the front window. I finally put our good curtains back up this morning. They used to be our “old curtains,” wanting replacing, but then I got worse curtains and now they are our “good curtains.” I like them. They are easy to pull open and closed and don’t crease like starched notebook paper.

The thing about sick kids is that on the one hand you savor the sweet cuddles, the neediness that sickness manifests, but then there’s the vomit and the clean-up, the extra laundry, the sleeplessness which only generates further tears and irritability. You worry about them eating and not eating, being too hot or too cold, hold them until your arms ache and you have to remember how to tighten your core so your back won’t give out. You fight with your husband just because- because you are tired and wearing your fourth outfit covered in puke and just want someone to take it all away so you can just disappear for a few minutes to remember who you are.

Yet, sick days are the moments when memories are made. The days of cartoon marathons and sleeping on towels with a boy on either side, small hands gently holding you in place. One day we will look back and laugh that we literally went through every towel in the house in one night and finally found a reason to throw out that ugly throw pillow after Cameron threw up on it. Thanks Cam.

But for now I’ll savor the silence, the unfolded laundry, the sweet faces on the couch next to me, this momentary rest in which to catch my breath, and enjoy the wait for whatever happens next.

Frozen

The world is frozen outside. My almost four-year-old told me,”when there’s snow outside, it is quiet inside and it is quiet outside.” Yes. In the stillness of the morning I can feel the fullness of our home, the quiet exhalations that fill our house with life.

Driving to school this morning a blur of shadows flew across the road ahead and startled me out of my reverie. It took me a minute to realize it was a family of deer, at least 6, and I was so excited that I cried out without words, ecstatic when they turned to run parallel to our car for a moment so I could point them out to the boys, and suddenly tears sprung into my eyes. So brave and bold and foolish, those deer. Life in adundance, where so often it is chased out.

And twice in the past week the sky has taken my breath away; the low clouds reflecting the colors of the setting or rising sun so staggeringly that I look away but raise my gaze again to take it in, to make sure i dont foeget. Once the colors were brilliant orange and purple as the sun set to the West and the laughter of friends and children echoed through the halls. This morning the colors are more subtle- the pastel yellow and pink, blue, purple and peach; colors of a child’s room. The backlit trees are not deep black shadows but soft painted gauze draped with the white snow that is frozen and holding the world captive in its silence.

My Second Son

Cameron-

This time last year, I was anxiously awaiting your arrival, heading to story time with your big brother, wondering if this would be the day.

This time last year, you were getting ready, beginning your journey to the light.

This time last year, the autumn leaves were in full spectrum. The air was crisp and the sky big and blue and clear. The sun warmed our shoulders and our bare arms. It was a perfect day to meet you.

Now, you hold my hand and rest your head on my arm, in your silly, sweet way.

Now you bounce and dance. You love to dance and you love music. How you love music! It seems you were born knowing what a piano was- reaching on tippy-toes, tiny fingers tapping sound from the black and white keys. When we play downstairs, our favorite thing is to sit together and explore the sounds of each instrument in our music box, the sounds of each rattle, drum, bell, tambourine, triangle- all clamoring together in a raucous composition.

Now you are one.

How quickly the past year has gone. I remember so clearly holding you in my arms for the first time, the way your tiny fingers grabbed onto mine, sleepy eyes looking up at me, adjusting to the light and the cool air of the world for the first time.

This past year has been so full- full of laughter and tears, finding our balance, dancung to new rhythms and adjusting to new schedules; of worry and anger and wonder but most of all so very full of love. I can’t believe how much love my heart can hold.

I spent a lot of the last year worrying, wondering if I was giving you enough- enough time, enough love, enough of me. I worried that I wasn’t giving you everything your brother got, worrying that I was somehow short changing you, wondering how I would divide my love and my time between two boys. Some days my worry manifested in anger. Sometimes I could see that anger scaring you, scaring your brother, throwing us off balance. This past year was full of learning new ways to think, to cope, to find myself and sit in the midst of chaos without losing my footing.

But a year in, I find that it all happens naturally. My heart opens to you one day at a time as we experience life together. There have been times of anger and yelling but so many more moments of tenderness and laughter and togetherness.

Cameron, here is my promise to you. I will not parent you the exact same way that I parented your brother and that’s ok. You are a different boy then your brother. The things you need from me are much the same but very different than him. Our lives are different than they were when your big brother was born. I am different. I am more confident as a mother. I have more trust in my abilities as well as in you.

I will love you to the ends of the earth and raise you the best I can and I promise you that it will be enough. I will accept you as you are and help you whenever you need it and give you as much space and as many cuddles as you need. And I will kiss you and tell you I love you a thousand times and then a thousand more.

Cameron, I love you. You make me laugh and remind me to slow down and, in this next year of your life, I promise to do more of both. I promise to worry less and relax a little. I can’t wait to see what this next year will hold. I can’t wait to discover the world with you and watch you grow into the little boy you will be a year from now.

Happy Birthday Munchkin!