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.

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Stardust & Friendship

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Starlight sparkled in their eyes when they smiled.

Inside, the steady beat of the sewing machine kept time with the soft music playing in the background. The hiss of the iron as it came down again and again upon the small seams, pressing down, preparing them for even small stitches.
Mind-numbing is often confused with soul-opening.

Outside, they stood at the top of the hill, gazing down upon their respective kingdoms, arms linked. Warrior women. Starlight sparkled from their eyes as the bundles of stardust shone brightly inside their bellies. Their hair blew back in the night wind and the planes of their faces reflected the light of the moon.
Serenity, strength and solace found through friendship.

There is nothing in this world like a good friend.  The power of friendship to heal, to humble and to give us strength is something that surprises me over and over again as I grow older.  I am not a social butterfly and although I connect with other people easily, it is rare that I find a friend that I can be truly intimate with; someone who I feel comfortable enough around to open up and to be vulnerable.  It took me a long time to grow into myself enough to be able to let go of judgement and self-doubt and embrace the bond that is formed when you are willing to take the time to cultivate a true friendship.  It isn’t always easy.  It is scary to share those moments in life that are raw and ugly with someone who has not committed their life to yours.  It is hard to express your self-doubts and share your fears as well as admit your dreams and share your strengths.

As a mother and wife, I am thankful every day that I have a true friend who also fills these rolls in her daily life.  I am thankful that we share so many of the same qualities and interests and more thankful for the differences that make us unique and from which we each continually learn and find inspiration from.   It’s been ten years since we first spoke to each other while standing in the hallway, waiting for the class before ours to let out. We were both in college then, still learning about life and love, both at the very beginning of our journey’s.  We would be tested again and again, taken to opposite sides of the country, turn our backs on one another and finally take those first tentative steps toward the reinvention and renewal of a friendship that has flowered over the past few years and continues to grow stronger with each passing day.

Sitting back and watching our children play together, there is a stillness, a calm between us that has settled like a soft blanket.  We each watch over our respective kingdoms, sharing laughs and recipes and giving strength to the other when it is failing.  We walk the mall and sit in coffee shops and share wet wipes and diapers and tea and tips to make our lives just a little bit easier.  We work to build each other up and celebrate each other’s success and make plans that may never come to pass but are fun to think about anyway.

B~ I am so grateful that we are entering this next stage of our life together.

Inside each of them, the stardust churned and grew.  Tiny atoms from exploded starts were reborn into two tiny bundles; new universes that would bring about the next generation of stars.

Looking Out & Looking In

My eyes open too early on this clear inviting morning.
The day stretches out in front of me, long with possibility.

When he stirs I can hear it, so attuned to his atomic movement have I become.
He’s a creature of habit, like his dad. Like me. But the summer sun brings freedom and a yearning to break the mold; a search for whimsy and adventure.

He wakes in my arms every morning and when we walk into the living room, we throw the curtains open wide, one:

“Good morning outside!”
by one:
“I love you outside!”

This has become a daily tradition, one which makes the day, and my heart, burst open.

We have always liked to rest across the back of our big blue sofa and watch the world out of our wide, front window. We watch the cars go by and keep an eye out for trucks and buses so that we can race out the front door and chase them down the street. We watch the rain fall and the snow flakes as they float by. We watch the birds and the tiny chipmunks and we bang on the glass to scare the squirrels away from our bird feeders. In the spring and summer, we look each morning to see what has bloomed, to check the process of our small front garden as it grows.

When I am alone, I stare out this window, always the same view, always different. I daydream and write and plan and list and let my mind and my heart wander, allow my soul to escape for a bit.

Sometimes neighbors pass by and we wave, caught amidst our reverie.

It has become our own private aperture to the world. These days, we watch and wait and prepare for our future expansion, loitering among the cushions, hiding behind the pillows, snuggling under blankets. The view outside may remain the same but inside our own private sanctuary continues to grow and change and gain. We may be looking out our window but more often then not, as we gaze at this stationary and changing world, we find ourselves looking in.

Playing House

babyboychalk2.jpgHow do we find ourselves here, playing at being adults?  When the freedom of the swings still beckons; the wind catches us just right, making us wonder at Neverland.

Did someone forget to give me my manual? Who flipped the switch without alerting me and when? I wake early and stand confused in the living room, taking in the house, the family it holds- my house, my family.  I forget in odd moments that I am now the mother, wife, teacher, the culpable one. Plodding into the bathroom I am often startled by my reflection.  The familiarity of my features now bears the veil of responsibility; the map of our daily life etched into the supple skin above my brow and around my lips. I wonder if others can look beyond the dewey, sleep-deprived exterior and see the secrets I keep inside. Do they see the child behind my eyes?  The girl who still lays in the grass staring at shapes in the clouds, who imagines herself as the heroin of some unsung fantasy?   Can they sense the confusion and bewilderment that often underlies the confident exterior I dress in when I leave the house?

One day,  not too long ago, we were discussing homework assignments and boys and parties and then all of a sudden the talk turned to baby games, diaper rash cures and breastfeeding.  I much prefer these latter conversations.  I am more relaxed in my brain and body then my teenage self could ever claim to be.  I would rather share gardening tips and recipes then worry about reputations and hallway chatter.  Still, I wonder: How did this happen right under our noses?

I don’t find my role a burden.  The  weight of responsibility does not hang too heavy on my shoulders.  Instead, I am lifted by the magnitude of it all; held aloft by the outstretched hand of a steady partner as we fly, soaring on the sight of a delighted grin as we are swept through a carwash or come across a train passing us in the dark.  I shiver at the sheer joy I feel from the movements inside of me; baffled and exalted by the fullness I felt when she uttered the phrase “your boys.”

There are still moments when the light reflected from a dew drop startles me into waking, as if I have been asleep for a long time but I find myself enchanted and fulfilled from the life I find myself in.  At times I become overwhelmed by the unknowns that lurk ahead of us but most days I am too busy to dwell on such things.  Instead, I am excited by the changes that are headed our way and find myself becoming nostalgic as the summer intensifies.  A simple answer to my queries about breakfast: “How about…pancakes,” reminds me that this will be my last summer as a mother to a single child.  Trips to the park seem easier these days, as I imagine similar outings next summer with two boys in tow.  Our family is growing and my heart becomes engorged as it swells and takes it all in.

But I still check my mail everyday, wondering if someone simply forgot to send me my manual.

Leaving Neverland

Why is it that some days staying in the world of childhood is so easy?  It takes no effort at all to get down at their level and move at that slower, but much busier, pace, to ignore the mess, to stay calm and know that everything will happen and get done in its own time?

And some days it’s so hard- so hard to ignore the piles of laundry, the grit underneath your bare feet, the constant whirlwind of adult thoughts and worries that swirl around your mind?

Of course it’s because we are just that- adults.  We no longer see as children. Our view of the world and our interpretations of situations are colored by our experiences, our memories, our biases, our fears.  We have learned to make connections, to see and understand things at a deeper level, and that make it harder to pretend, to see the magic worlds captured within the tiny landscapes scattered all around us .

Today was an easy day.  Easy to sit on the floor and play trucks, to enter into the pretend world of our little construction site.  Easy to ignore the mess of the sand as it was dropped on the floor “again” and “again” in larger and larger quantities as our bulldozer, dump truck and bucket truck became more coordinated and drove deeper into our plot line.

We are not Peter Pan, although we may envy him.  Most days I feel more like one of the lost boys, torn between a yearning for childish mischief and adventure and the longing of a mother’s comforting embrace.  This allows me to understand Casey’s experience of the world so much more. People always talk about the “terrible two’s” with an eye roll or a head shake and a sympathetic, knowing tone.  Yes, there are days when tantrums rule and it is a constant battle to do anything.  But more often then not it is a fascinating adventure to see Casey grow and begin to understand and use language, to make those larger, intricate connections that give him a new way to comprehend and navigate the world around him.  Being two isn’t terrible but rather like being one of the lost boys, temporarily.  It is a transition between being a baby and becoming a child. Becoming comfortable with all the new feelings and sensations involved in growing up, resisting them at times and embracing them at others, working through the frustration that accompanies learning and celebrating those ‘aha’ moments when the pieces finally fall into place.

If we, as adults and parents, can simply understand that this transition is better done with ease and compassion, then it helps our children learn to cope as they begin to experiment with entering into a more adult world.

Because Casey, too, has times when he finds it easy to enter into his version of an adult world and days when it is hard.  He’s my “good helper,” something he proclaims as he carries trucks and tools and plastic planters up the driveway when we work in the garden, as he follows my around the yard digging holes in the dirt, when he picks up his toys, or helps me vacuum or wash dishes.  He is equally fascinated with the tasks of housecleaning as he is enthralled in the world of our pretend construction site.  He is not distracted with what he should do but rather fully engrossed with what he is doing.

When I can follow this example, it becomes easy to enter into the world of childhood and let the adult cares float away on the wind.  It is easier to laugh and to dance and to feel that sense of carefree that so often avoided once we are older.  Today, I let myself find that freedom to play and to laugh and to dance and low and behold, despite, or maybe because of, the grit beneath our bare feet, everything happened and got done exactly as it was supposed to.

Saying Goodbye

I.
In the field by the barn
where we picked wild fowers
where the grass beyond grows
knee-high to waist
where you rolled down the hill
and let him jump on you
squeals of laughter dancing
through the trees
as I watched from the window
while I completed my
simple domestic tasks
like drying my hair
-how uncountry of me!
This is where we knelt
and wiped away the dirt
to reveal the promise
of a memory.

II.
The country road winds comfortably through the hills,
green and full of Spring,
past barns both new and old
some red and shiny-roofed
some slowly collapsing back to the earth
from whence they sprung
past fields yellow with mustard
that even now, three days later,
seem a bit burnt to my eye-
ripples of yellow once highlighted
in cool air and morning dew
are now flat and wane under the hot sun.
But perhaps that is the promise of memory too.

III.
It isn’t easy to say good bye
-or “hello”, or “how are you” for that matter.
Everything in life seems to bring its own trials
but standing on this land it is easy
to remember, to hope, to love, to be calm
even when the remembering and the ones we love
can be difficult–
it is easy to breathe in the peace
of the country air.
But it is always hard to say Goodbye


But it is always good to come back home!

Everything

Kids give it their all.  Everything.  Whatever they are doing at the moment, it gets their full attention, all their focus.  If they are building a tower with blocks, that is all they are doing.  If they are collecting pinecones outside, those pinecones are their single focus- until they discover a flower or a bug and then their entire world hones in on this new object.   When they come running into your arms, they run full out, throwing their entire bodies at you without hesitation.  And when they are tired and you pick them up, they give their entire selves over to you, trusting their entire weight into your arms as they rest their head on your shoulder.  They give you their all.

We, as parents, have to work to give our children our all.  This isn’t always easy, it doesn’t always come naturally and sometimes it can feel downright onerous.  Some days its a breeze to sit on the floor and play with legos and cars and stuffed animals for hours on end, switching games right along with our little ones, laughing at the stories they tell and answering their endless questions patiently.  But other days, the hours stretch too long.  The games they play become …well boring and tedious to us.  It isn’t that we don’t want to give our all to our children every possible moment.  But as adults, we are molded to multi-task.  As a stay at home mother, one who doesn’t rely on day care or a nanny to help our during the day, I have a responsibility to not only give my all to my son but to my family and our household as well and I rarely get to take a break from this job.  I feel the weight of this responsibility keenly, everyday. While I want to be able to give my entire focus to my son all day long, with total patience and enthusiasm, I also have a household to keep up, projects of my own that I wish to get done, a constantly growing to-do list and the internal worries and nagging thoughts that play through my mind every day.

Older generations are always saying not to worry so much about the housework, that these years will pass by too quickly and we will regret not spending more time digging in the dirt, having tea parties, and playing reckless games of chase to the backdrop of children’s laughter.  I know this is true because I already feel time slipping away before I am altogether ready to let go.  But I also know that I am happier in a clean house, more patient with my child when I am also able to get through my to-do list throughout the week.  The days seem to pass easier when I am able to keep us both busy.  It is a constant balancing act.

But every day I remind myself to give Casey my all.  I work to slow down and be patient, to answer all of his questions as best I can and give him my full attention when he is trying to tell me something.  I try not to get frustrated when he wants to stop every few feet on a walk down the street.  Instead, I take a deep breath and sit down next to him and study ants, poke rolly pollies so they curl up into balls, hold the rocks and leaves and flowers that he collects along the way.  In other words, I simply try to be where he’s at.

Just be wherever your children are.  That is everything.