Hey! Hi. It’s been a while. Truth is I’m nervous every time I publish anything, but especially when it’s been a while. No matter how many times I make things or write things…and share them, I feel a little shakey. I mostly wish I didn’t but I have to believe my awkwardness is a legit part of me. I’ll always have the nerves married to the need to share what I create. It’s a crazy-making cocktail and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this shaker.
Rippin’ off the not-posted-in-forever bandaid with some meandering thoughts.
My daughters are in second and fourth grades. I know Ruby won’t say haded (as in I haded to get a snack) much longer. And I know Margot’s talk of crushes will soon be more real than imagined. My eldest seems so grown up and then she wears a cat ear headband every day and I realize she is totally a little girl. My first vivid memories are from when I was around their ages. It’s wild to think that their experiences so far will be but a fuzzy foundation of the stories they tell; we never really know what will stick and become the bedrock of their childhood. All the ages have felt significant but right now feels especially so. Their earliest memories of me will be as I am now. That’s nuts.
A few of my earliest memories: my grandma braiding my hair, my other grandma spritzing Chanel No. 5 on her wrists and then rubbing her wrists on her neck, a family friend holding me under water in a pool because he thought it was funny, seeing the dead bodies of a litter of kittens my neighbor drown in a bag in the ditch, learning to skip with my dad at the zoo, saving turtles from the middle of a freeway with my mom, Mrs. Ryding (first grade) who only scowled and would never ever call on me no matter how desperately I wanted to be acknowledged, Mrs. Rasmus (second grade) who loved so big that every kid felt like the favorite every day, standing in the hall line and my fourth grade friend told me her uncle sexually assaulted her, that killer jump rope routine that landed Kristi and I first place in the talent show, gleefully eating a stick of butter under the Thanksgiving table with my brother, my first big bike wreck behind Courtney’s house.
Margot and I had a disagreement a few weeks back. We talked it out and there was one moment that really struck her, she’s mentioned it several times since. In response to her legit frustration with me, I noticed, “This is your first time being nine years-old and this is my first time parenting a nine year-old. We are both doing the best we can, growing together.” I was saying it to her but also to me. Sometimes we need to melt into our humanness. Release the pressure valve and just be messy, fallible humans.
I believe my current most important mothering charge/challenge is to give them my full attention when they are opening up. To hand myself over, silently communicating to them that there is no place I’d rather be. It’ll seemingly happen out of nowhere when one of my daughters leans her cheek into the soft landing of my waist and unloads her thoughts. I will feel a divine tap on my shoulder to stop everything and give into the lean. Of course, it is not always convenient and I don’t always react as gracefully as I wish I did. Like all important things I am learning, I practice. I practice listening without judgement or nudging or anything other than empathy. Feeling those feelings. Maybe if they know now (when the talk is about goldfish death and birthday party invitations and the nuance of short shorts) that we can talk about everything, that nothing is off-limits and everything is entrusted to my heart, it will also be true later (when the talk is about body image and drugs at the party and sex). Maybe.
A friend died last week and as I was on facebook scrolling through photos of her and words by those who loved her, there was this one post by Nina Alviar that grabbed me. I love it when words stick to my bones.
Hug everyone who wants one, and don’t let go first. Make the thing. Go to places you want to see. Eat good food. Use your body for all the fun stuff it can do. Do something for someone else before they ask you to. Put it on the line. Find beauty in the mundane. Stop complaining and just find the beauty. Be bold and unashamed and live completely.
Andy and I went to California last weekend to be with friends and listen to some live music. In a sea of concert-goers by the calm ocean, the other ocean was kicking up waves that would swallow homes. One couldn’t help but get twisted up in the soul-rhythm of humanity, the flesh of the earth in perfection and pain, the fragrance of mortality amid our eager, ecstatic cheers for Eddie Vedder, for this life. All under the same moon.
The Montana sky has been thick, saturated by the smoke of surrounding wildfires since mid-August. Our windows stay shut, our eyes burn, our heads ache. The sun faithfully rises every morning, a glowing red orb with light so dim that we have lost our shadows, that we can just stare straight at the sun because it is a flat, opaque shape — like a circular piece of red construction paper cut out and pasted to the atmosphere. The tomatoes are giving up, their leaves curling into copper shrines to summer.
The fires will extinguish. And we will all appreciate clean air more than ever before. This weekend, we will drive a few hours to a wedding and the temp is supposed to dip to 21ºF. It is supposed to snow. Holy shit, snow.
It feels like a long time ago that we camped under the milky way, memorized the negative shapes created by mountainscapes, ran up the hill just happy to have lungs doing their thing. It hasn’t been that long. It’s just that the smoke has stretched the last month’s time into a hazy, itchy fog.
Yesterday Ruby felt conflicted about whether or not she wanted to go to the neighbors to play on the bike obstacle course. She clipped her purple leopard helmet strap under her chin and sobbed as she said, “I really want to go but I don’t! I just don’t!” I hugged her. “It’s just that they are all having fun…and what if I don’t? I’m the littlest. What if I get there and I feel like I can’t keep up?”
Shit, my love. That self-doubtful beast stays alive in girls and women way too long. We have to just keep showing up and speaking up. On bikes and in board meetings.
Remembering my current favorite mantra, I offered: “What if you just begin? And if it doesn’t feel good you change it up? Come home and make dinner with me or read a book or bike by yourself…?”
Anything was ok, including continuing to cry in the field. She decided, symmetrically wiping her tears with her pointer finger knuckles and used her strong legs to bike into the unknown, blond hair waving me goodbye.
It’s so easy to get ahead of ourselves and feel like the choice we’re making is for a day or a decade. When, really, it’s just one choice until the next one.
Today, the fawn’s spots are fading and the browning garden is muscling out the last fruit. The air is cooling and the fires seem to be more of a rumble than a roar. The creek is lazy, moving around rocks, instead of over. We make bread and soup. We put up peaches and corn and collect kohlrabi the size of my head. Grasshoppers leap from straw colored grass shafts, knocking seeds into the dry wind. It is supposed to rain this week. Air is shifting, kids are biking, earth is orbiting, people are making art, glaciers are melting, today is happening, tomorrow is coming. Everything is just beginning.