Going His Own Way

The new routine around here gets us up and ready for work and school way too dang early (!) but also at staggered times. A bit over an hour after Mister Soandso and Middlest leave to get her to high school, I stand at the window and watch Littlest walk to the bus stop.

It’s our first week of school and already he’s got a system: eat breakfast, get showered and dressed, and head out the door all with limited interaction with me. He’s never been a super chatty morning person, but even for him it’s a bit muted. Not in a rude sort of way, but more in line with how he interacts with the pets – sort of a quick acknowledgement and then a “bye! Love you!” thrown over his shoulder as he head out the door.

Sounds like I’ve got a middle schooler on my hands, 100%.

After the door lock clicks, I refill my coffee cup and the dog and I head into my bedroom where the window affords me the best view. It takes a while for him to come into view, and then, after a short walk up the hill, he disappears. At no point does he look back over his shoulder – why would he? His destination and friends are ahead of him. And he knows how to get back home when it’s time to do so.

Eli first day of kinderThis photo of Littlest popped up on my FB feed this morning. Seven years ago Mister Soandso and I walked him to his first day of kindergarten.

He didn’t look behind much even then. He knew where we were… right behind him should he need us. Plus, he knew he had free reign until he got to the corner where’d he need to wait for us and the crossing guard. He knew how to do this trip.

After all, his dear sister was back there with his dad and I, and he’d made this trip with her too many times to count in his life.

Seven years and now that little boy is gone. That too big backpack wore out years ago, he’s favorite tee shirt has long been outgrown. And those tiny running shoes he was so excited to get have been traded in for 8.5s in adult size!!!

The young man I watched walk to the bus stop resembles this tiny boy so much, and yet very little. His voice proves adulthood is around the corner even more than those big shoes do. And his fierce independence seems to demonstrate how grown up he is as well. Except it doesn’t.

Instead, it reminds me that he has always known where to find his dad and I – behind him, watching his back while giving him the space he needs to become the person he will be. And g-d knows, we love that person so much.

Welcoming a child into your life is always a scary thing – and Littlest’s entrance to our world was not without drama. Oy. But in the big picture, journeying with this young man has been such smooth sailing. Or, maybe the joys have just so outnumbered the challenges that I rarely think about the scary stuff nowadays.

A friend’s baby came early this past week – his little boy was born at 24 weeks 5 days and weighed only 1.9 pounds. So far, little Will is doing well. Every photo his parents share is a reminder of just how precious and tenuous life is. And how very lucky Mister Soandso and I were to have three full-term babies.

Our babies start out so very vulnerable and need so much. And then in a blink of a proverbial eye, they put on their backpacks and head off to kindergarten.

Yep, the days are long but the years are so very short. And then they are off, going their own way.

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Circles and Straight Lines

I got up this morning and made banana bread muffins.

This is certainly not out of the ordinary. After all, I’ve been getting up and making banana bread muffins for years now. (When one eats as many bananas as I do while having a very small “perfect banana” definition, there is a much larger banana bread window than banana eating window at chez moi.)

But one thing was different today. After I put the muffin pan in precisely the center of the center rack and set the timer, I texted Biggest.

“Making banana bread muffins and missing you.” Continue reading

Standing in the Shadow, part 2

When Biggest was about 2 or so, he got frustrated by my “multi-tasking” during breakfast and reached across the table, over the paper I was grading, and put his little hands on either side of my face. “Pay attention to me,” he said while he pulled my face towards his. He didn’t stop until his forehead was against mine, staring into my eyes to ensure I really was paying attention to him.

Sometimes, our world requires us to pay attention.

And sometimes, we’d really rather be distracted by anything but that which is reaching out and grabbing our attention. Continue reading

Standing In the Shadow, part 1

Next week we take Biggest to college. I can’t believe I’m typing those words, but my lack of belief doesn’t change reality. Biggest is off to college.

He was an 8 year old, third grader when I started this blog. Back then, my role in his life (and apparently mine as well) was to have all the answers to all his questions. (See my inaugural post for a refresher of how well that went for me.)  These days as a whopping 18 year old, he prefers me to keep my obviously lacking “opinions” to myself and just drive the car in silence, thank you very much. Continue reading

My Slow Fall Into Love With Summer

Falling in love with Summer caught me so unaware that now my heart aches with need. A need to be connected – a need so great that I find myself nearly willing to lose myself. I know this makes no sense.

How is it that me, a middle aged woman not known for spontaneity or reckless behavior now feels like making a public declaration of my love for Summer? I think because when I woke up today, my arm snaking out from under my covers to find the snooze button, my first thought was that it is Friday. And this Friday is the last Friday of this Summer. More to the point, it is the last Friday of Summer as I have come to know and love.

This is the last Friday of Summer.

When I was a kid I hated summer. Summer was the three interminable months between when school got out and when I could escape my childhood and go back to school. Summer was the enemy that meant no fun, no full-belly-laughter, no being a silly kid. Instead, summer was getting up and working all day in the sun-bleached heat of Eastern Washington and trying to hide from the angry voices that demanded absolute obedience.

Things slowly changed when I left the farm. Later, I left home and summer became something more than a season to survive. It became tolerable, even ignorable. Summer happened, but it was just a waiting period until my favorite season started. Hatred had somehow transformed into indifference.

However, yesterday I realized that I somehow fell in love with Summer.

It’s my husband’s fault. He mastered the slipping out of bed as his alarm goes off, closing doors before turning on lights or the shower, dressing in the dark. He’s mastered the gentle kiss on my forehead and quiet goodbye as I hold a cup of coffee, not yet quite awake. He’s embraced sleeplessness as we cajole him into staying up late to watch movies and play games, or moonlit philosophical soaks in the hot tub. He’s been our family’s primary breadwinner so I could spend the summers fully immersed in mothering our three children. Falling in love with summer is an extension of having been given permission to love other people so fully and completely that all I want to do is do nothing with them.

I suppose my slow love affair with summer is like an appreciation of summer’s bountiful impermanence. While experiencing it, summer feels as full a garden plot with one too many zucchini plants. But that feeling is fleeting. One day there is too much and then next there is only withered and empty vines. 

This summer has been filled to bursting with time together. Next summer, Biggest will be marking the days before leaving for college. His weeks between graduation and college will be more about his friends and peers than Netflix and popcorn in the family room with his siblings and Mister Soandso and I crowded on the couch.

Thank you Summer for all you’ve given me. All these years of moments with Biggest (and Middlest and Littlest) and the memories of both the days filled with more “nothing specials” than “big events” but that add up to such a powerful thing that I don’t know what I’m going to do when Summer makes way for Autumn. Because when that happens, there will be no way to ignore that the next time I meet Summer, everything will be different. It may have taken me a long time to fall in love with Summer, but now that I have, all I want is Summer…days and days and days of Summer. But that won’t happen.

Because today is the last Friday of Summer.

 

Come Back To Me

I am cleaning house today; erasing the evidence that five people and two pets live in this home. Everywhere I look there is pet fur and pet nose prints, lost socks and scraps of papers awaiting recycling. I wonder how on earth we could have accumulated so much detritus since I last did these chores just the other day. And I wonder if these bits and pieces of others ever actually leave me, or if they are somehow fixed to my being like I’ve been tattooed by my life choices.

img_1352On my shower door is a handprint. Several actually, but one stands out in relief. The Mister and I often pass by the shower while it is in use and place a palm against the glass…waiting for the other person to reach out and cover the other’s palm. Palm prints, warming the glass and leaving a reminder that even when separated, we are still connected. The odd thing about these handprints  is that they resist removal. As part of my cleaning rotation, I scrub the shower doors. And yet, ever so often I find that one still appears in the fog, days after it was placed there. It is as if when Mister Soandso and I take the time to connect even in this silly, small way, it leaves an impression. I like this possibility. And I like this tradition we seem to have created for ourselves.

I don’t know who started this tradition only as old as this house, but I do know Mister Soandso doesn’t know that when the light is just right and I catch a glimpse of one of those smudges on the glass, I put my hand over it and whisper, “Come back to me.” It is the same thing I say when I drop off my kids at their schools; “come back to me” I whisper to their backpack-covered backs and their youthful conviction of permanence and optimism.

Come back to me.

Life is filled with uncertainty. For every goodbye said has the potential to be the last time we say those words to that person. I am never not aware of that fact. And so I am always asking them for one more time–please come back to me.

I think we are all in the same boat as we find the souls we cherish – the people who make our lives better for having been a part of them. The challenge is letting folks walk away and knowing that someday they won’t return.

That is the type of thinking that can suck a day’s joy from me in a hot minute. If I let it. But one thing that helps me is remembering that just like how Mister Soandso and I leave our fingerprints on our shower door, no matter how far my children travel away from me in their lives and how many hours the Mister’s job takes him away from home, they are still with me.

This is true because no matter how far they go away, their fingerprints are tattooed all over my heart.

Just as it should be.

 

RBF Versus RBG

Let me start out by saying I’ve had no “work” done aside from the sort of work that life does to you via too many late nights and too much stress. Probably the most effective work that life’s done to me is giving me a serious case of myopia which has had the effect of a lifetime spent mostly squinting.

What I’m getting at here folks is that I have wrinkles. I’ve got some lovely smile lines around my eyes, this one weird ass wrinkle that showed up about 3 months ago above my lip, and a super impressive set of Elevens plus a friend between my eye brows. Continue reading