2 AM

I am awoken from my slumber by the sound of the rain, the scratch of a branch on the house, or perhaps a shooting star. I do not open my eyes; I try to convince myself I am not really awake. My mind is not so easily swayed. Bills that are due come creeping slowly up to the edges, followed by the list of house keeping chores, and hand in hand with children’s sports equipment requests. Coming in behind all those distractions are the new baby chicks along the bunny cage that needs fixing. 

I roll over. I plump my pillow. I practice deep, slow breathing. I look at the clock. 2:05 am.

Now, I have to pee.

I certainly could stoke the fire on my way through the living room. And then I could check on those baby chicks. While I was waiting for the fire to catch, I could check my bank online, and schedule bills. I could probably switch over the laundry too, so there would be more available for the kids to fold tomorrow.

But I don’t want to get up. I don’t get up.

The fire is probably fine. The chicks are probably sleeping. There is already two loads of laundry waiting to be folded. I can schedule the bills in the morning.

I have to pee.

Rolling over I snuggle in the covers, I close my eyes, I try to sleep. I peak at the clock, 2:10.

A light thump, followed by the gentle creak of a floor board, followed by a cough. Someone is awake. Someone is walking. Someone is coming down the stairs. Someone is standing in the doorway. Someone is talking to me, beside my bed. 

My youngest daughter, ready with her story of why she needs me…I pretend to sleep. I whisper to her that I am sleeping. She climbs into bed, across me, to the empty pillow of my still traveling husband.

She is small, and warm, and has her snuggly lion tucked under her arm. She snuggles into me. I snuggle her back and, but wish I could check my phone, or check on the fire, and what about those bills.  She falls asleep. Cozy.

I have to pee. I try to sleep.

Suddenly, the most wretched middle of the night sound: the cat puking, on my bed!!! Yuck. Now I MUST get up…

Finally snuggling back in bed. The clock reads 2:50

I cozy up to the small child, still sleeping soundly. She does not worry about bills, or chicks, or laundry. She doesn’t need to clean cat puke off the bed and the floor. She needs love. She needs attention. She needs reassurance that it WILL be okay. She worries about bad dreams and what will happen to Percy Jackson and Grover. I can help with HER problems. I can give her love and ease her fears. I am her protector and her care giver. All she needs is her mom. 

I snuggle into the covers and hug my little person. As I fall peacefully asleep, I am calmed, having solved the problems in one little world. 


Oh to be the Cat

Oh to be the cat, lazing in the sun. Totally unaware of all that needs to be done. No cares for raking, or trimming, or cleaning up the trash. No need to rush, or hurry to make it anywhere on time. 

Oh to be the cat, a simple observer of all that is around. You see the chickens, the flowers, the sticks, and the rose’s thorns. But none require your attention, none require you to act. 

Oh to be the cat, keeping a careful, watchful eye on all that surrounds you, to never be surprised. You know when food is served. You sense when things go astray. But it is never your requirement to fix anything at all. 

Oh to be the cat, resting in the sun. To know that you are deeply loved, and amply fed by everyone. 

Missing piece

I miss you.

Today is the four day mark, when I am over  all the spaciousness of our bed, tired of the single parenting, and done with cooking for only little people who don’t really want to eat it anyway. 

I have not yet reached the searching for pictures of you, somewhere on your trip, that will be around day seven. The kids might start asking Monday though. A count down will start in their dry erase boards. I have been counting down in my head since before you even left. 

Today, I just miss you.

The kids have been good. The animals not too much work. I have kept them all fed and the kitchen is even somewhat clean. The laundry is getting done and the fire gets lit each morning, with the great kindling you left for me. Bedtime is not quite as regular, but with vacation, everybody gets a break.  

It was great to see your smile on FaceTime today. I could see you are getting tired, or maybe it is just the five hour time difference. 

I thought of you a lot today. I brought in more firewood and cleaned the leaves and sticks from the driveway. I trimmed back the wild roses and dragged them to the burn pile. We can have a bonfire after you return. That makes me smile.

I changed the sheets and vacuumed the floor and folded all the blankets on the sofa. Probably it is neater than when your home! 

Keeping busy. 

I miss you. 

Mother’s hands

As a child, I remember the soothingly cool touch of my mothers hands. Her palm on my forehead calmed me, made me feel it was all okay. As she smoothed back my hair, tucked me into my covers, or held my hand while we walked, her smooth, cool palm eased my little anxious soul. 

When she read to us, at bed time, I would study her hands holding the book. I remember how different our hands looked, mine were small, clear, and usually dirty, while hers had road maps of the story of her life. There was so much written there:  tending of a homestead gardens and farm, hours of writing and schoolwork, the words they said in the fluid language of ASL, her nails always cut short and clean – a small bit of self care all mothers need to remember. The backs of her hands were soft, worn, creased and lined. Yes, they were more wrinkly than my ‘new’ hands; I didn’t see that as a draw back but as a meaningful asset. Her wrinkles were love, attention, and the outcome of the value of hard work: beautiful. Her hands told her story, her hands were the well known tale of her life. She talked with her hands. 

Today, when I look at my own hands, I see the bumps and the creases, the star indentations in the skin, and the canyons on my fingers made by my rings. I see the skin shiny and stretched thin over my knuckles when I flex my fingers, and the multitude of wrinkles and creases when I flatten my hand on my lap. And I am reminded of my mother when I was young, her soft, cool, and confident hands, that soothed away my fears. Reflecting on my wrinkles, I see hands that have changed many diapers, cleaned up many toys, and folded mountains of laundry. But I also see hands that have soothed cuts and bruises and burns, fingers that have gently held tinier fingers gripped tightly learning to walk, and hands that have slowly worked out many knots and tangles.

My hands are not my mothers, though they are similar. Her hands tell the story of her life, her worries, her scars and her triumphs. My hands tell my journey; they reflect where I am in my life today. Often my nails have chipped, peeling nail polish, put on by my eight year manicurist. Dirt lingers beneath every nail that is long enough, remnants of my day working. The backs of my hands usually are scratched or scrapped from caring for the animals, bringing in firewood, or fighting rose bushes. My hands also bare the scars of my life: a deep scratch from a piece of metal in 7th grade, a small line were the kitchen knife slipped, another thicker line is a gouge from building a box with my husband for the girls Christmas present. And on each of my ring fingers, a ring of love from my partner. This is my story, my tale to be told.

In my children’s growing memories, I wonder what will be the calming, soothing, and gentle from their childhood. I hope they remember the coats zipped and mittens tucked, the tears wiped and the bandages applied, the silly stories told with extreme and elegant gestures, and the hands held while we wait for the bus or anticipation of a shot. But perhaps they will remember something different, like my smile, my laugh, my arms, or my lap. I am sure they will remember and reflect on different moments, as we all do as we grow. 

For me, in my reflecting and remembering, it is my mother’s hands that hold the memories of gold. 

Clarity, in writing

I love my eldest daughter’s clear handwriting. It is so much more careful and prepared than mine. The curves are perfectly round and the straight lines are clear, but not stark or harsh. It is not hurried or scrawled; it has hidden patience. The letters can sometimes tend toward those fluffy, bubbly letters written by the ‘cool’ girls in middle school in the 90s. But my daughter’s have more substance and purpose behind them, (and none of the drooling, big eyes smiley faces). I feel the love of reading, dancing, and singing in the gentle, fluidity of the letters and placement on the page. 

My own handwriting comes out too fast, trying to keep up with the speed of my brain. Letters overlap or are squashed flat in my haste to put the next one down on paper. The ends of my last letters often draw themselves too far out, like a cat scratch that isn’t quick to heal. And the edges of my letters either cross too far, or don’t finish the connection. I am hurried in the process and overwhelmed with the next task.

When I was in second grade, I remember my teacher compairing my messy, out of the lines coloring to my neat and beautiful older sister’s work. I have never developed into a neat person, in writing or housekeeping. I push myself beyond my own limits and try to clean up later. When I slow down and actually try, (as in teaching first graders,) I can write perfect clear, text book letters. I am indeed messy and fast, but I get the job done and move to the next performance in my three ring circus. 

My eldest daughter stands on that brink of  life, 13 years young. She is full of grand ideas, wonderful beginnings, fantasy endings, and dreams too big to contain. She is also graceful and strong, beautiful and poised, gently independent with a strong dose of teen self-doubt. She has the potential to do great things, with clarity and  patience. She has many mountians to climb, and it will take many tears and much effort to reach her lofty goals, but she will do it.  I can see it in her writing. 

Wild, imagined fences

My legs need shaving. My egg sandwich tastes bland. The coffee has gone cold, again. I can feel the lump in my throat, which prevents me from eating much these days. I can also feel the tears, on the verge, ready to spring forth at the next catastrophe. Outside, I tell myself, someday, someday it will be better, it will get easier, I will miss the chaos, the struggle; someday I will look back and laugh. But inside, inside is a growing worry doll that is holding every fear, every ‘what if’, every possible disaster and remembering every single mistake.

Perhaps I have anxiety, perhaps I am just a worrier. I hear and read more every day of mothers’ struggles to juggle it all. I hear about how to ‘let it go’, ‘live in the moment’ and balance it all. Being a well educated college graduate, from a small (expensive) liberal arts school, I know that balance is important. I also know that drive, ambition, and fortitude (along with good conections) is how to make things happen. Realistically, externally, I know these things. And I have those positive images of ‘I have survivied so far’ and ‘what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger’ and of course Nike’s ‘just do it’. But most of these don’t sink deep enough into my very sub-sub conscious mind.

There is a deep struggle I fight every day. It is the struggle of positive and negative. The struggle of am I really good enough and will I really make it through today. The end result comes out as bubbling positivity most days, though not always. I maintain the external cheerful, busy, bubbly personality trying to spread good and positive feelings to everyone. (There  are certainly down days, for sure, but mostly the positive good does win over the ‘evil’ in my internal struggle.)

Is the positive image I keep holding due to finally letting these known good vibes settle deep enough to REALLY hear them?  Perhaps a little. But the real reason I keep fighting is ten years old. The real reason has dark brown eyes, a gentle wave to her hair and a wonderful smile. The real reason is I don’t want to pass more of the anxiety, worry, self doubt and struggle down to my middle daughter.  Although she is strong, she is building fences that I too built, fences that hold her back from enjoying every moment.

I will fight everyday to show her how to cope with worrying that the house will be engulfed in flames upon our daily return. I will give her the tools I have lived 39 years to find. I will show her the good, the happy, the calm spots in life to take a deep breath and feel the gentle good karma pulsing through the earth. I will show her how to deconstruct those fences, let in the light and run free to explore all the wonders the world has to offer. I will help her to see nobody cares if you have hairy legs, ice coffee can be delicious, and how to let the tears flow to make room for new experiences that are beyond our wildest imaginings. 

The moment

You can’t capture the moment. The high peeping of chicks on the dinning room table (who keeps chicks in the table!) The circles from suction cup lights stuck on the window (doesn’t she ever wash the windows), or the water colored silk sun capture spinning briefly all connect and bring reality together. What I really love is the light on the delicate pink blossoms of the begonia, the shadows of the yet to flower cherry tree on the upper window pane and the sunlight dancing gently on my  yellow t-shirt. I see the peace, but there is not time to relish, to frolic in the calm.

Many, many days I see a scene and start to write in my head. But the moments are so fleeting, so quick, and also too realistic, too messy to share. By the time I pick up the pencil, find the paper, or open the app, another moment is upon me and desperate for my attention. The children, the chickens, the house, the wood stove, time for school or work or practice. The moment slips through…

But just this once, I tried. I took a chance and flew by the seat of my pants. 

As the moment of peace changes, so must I. Dinner must be stirred, the children redirected in their ‘cleaning’ and the fire built to keep out the evening chill. 

I am indeed more peaceful though, even for just this moment. Thank you, world. Thank you, muse. Thank you. I will carry this with me to share and to hold.