I poured the milk, sliced up a pear. French toast sizzled on the griddle. "I hope they remember this." he said, reaching for his mug.
"Me too." I replied. "Well, I know I'll never forget. And I'll ask them enough times, 'Remember when we...' that they won't forget either."
I will ask them...
Remember when we set up the tent at twilight?
When we rolled out your new sleeping bags, read bedtime stories by flashlight?
Remember when we saw the full moon rise, watched the fog roll in?
Remember when, in the middle of the night, Dani climbed into my sleeping bag, stole my pillow, cuddled and kicked while I laid awake, stroking her hair, marveling at the moonlight?
Remember, when, in the middle of the night, Daddy woke and wondered where Caed had gone, until he found him burrowed far into his sleeping bag?
Remember when we all woke to chirping and squalking?
When Dani yelled, 'The birds waked me up in da morning!"
When we unzipped the flap and unleashed our whining, wagging-tailed dog on the unsuspecting swallows?
When they are 12 and 10, and we've traveled hundreds of miles from the backyard, I will ask them.
Remember when we first camped out together? Remember the very first time? In our old backyard?
And they will say, "Yes. We remember."
Because I'm not going to let them forget.
I poured the milk, sliced up a pear. French toast sizzled on the griddle. "I hope they remember this." he said, reaching for his mug.
I'm sorry at how easily and often I slip into cliche, but I can't ever repent of this unabashed, unrelenting adoration for my daughter. I know a million mothers feel this way when they see the untainted twinkling in their tiny girl's eyes--the reflections of an unbroken heart.
I never claimed to be unique in this mother love.
I claim only her. She is mine, and that look--see that one there below--it is mine too. I gave it to her.
But the fearlessness, that is entirely her Daddy's doing. She takes a seat in the surf, looks life right in the eye. She scoops fistfuls of sand and tosses a thousand grains of "take that!" at the waves twice her size. It's all I can do to stand there and marvel-worry.
She smiles and giggles and splashes an afternoon away. And then I go back to sum it up, to choose my favorite snapshots. I stare forever at the images, crying like a crazy person, mute.
I can't say it any better or differently than a million other mothers. I can't even say it at all. I see her arms stretch out toward the ocean, feel her fingers wrap sandy around mine, hear her calling me to "come see!", and my voice trails a hundred years behind. My words don't stand a chance when called upon to keep up with the wonder of the moment.
Luckily, my heart's still in it, running neck and neck with the here and the now and this wonder I never want to shake.
All day and into prime time, I scrubbed toilets and floors and any plans to get outdoors. When Monday calls and tells you to bring your steam mop, you know it can't be good. And it wasn't. There was nothing particularly redeeming about a scramble to get the whole blasted house clean for a Tuesday morning showing.
Luckily I had a helper donned in a frilly princess dress, waving her magic wand, yelling, "Maggot! Maggot! I turn you into a FROG!" (She meant to yell "magic", but her pronunciation fell considerably short.) Yes. I'm going to say it because I can't possibly resist. Cleaning toilets is just ribbeting. (Would you like me to pause for a moment while you unsubscribe?)
Anyway, it wasn't just frogs and ribbets. It was ducks and quacks. And no, vacuuming is not all it's quacked up to be. (And--insert expletive of choice--I ask myself puhlease for the love all who read to stop these awful puns!)
I might have also been turned into a dog for the duration of the dusting.
Until finally, "Maggot, maggot! I turn you back into a mommy!"
Oh thank you, thank you,
evil stepsister who dresses in fancy clothes while I scrub the floor princess girl! It's so very good to be myself again. I was wondering, though, if before you put that wand away, you'd mind turning the dog into a housekeeper?
I said there was nothing redeeming about cleaning the entire house on Monday. But maybe I was wrong. Because today (Tuesday), I cashed in on a clean house and 85 degree weather with a visit to the beach. It deserves its very own post, one not peppered with the word "maggot", but I'll leave you with a sneak peek.
Her name is Dani, but you can call her Princess Crazy Eyes.
The sea was angry that day, my friends.
The waves at high tide rolled at roughly twice the height of my children. My guess is the sea kept moving in a simple effort to stay warm. Because the water? B to the triple R. (When I asked Caed to describe how cold the water was, he answered, "A hundred percent?" as if he wasn't sure if he got the math correct. Oh yes, 100% cold. 100% correct.)
But the kids refused to be bullied. Or to stay dry. They bolted into the ocean waving shovels like spears, the signs on their red cheeks reading, Bring it on! And then the surf would knock them to their knees, or splash them to their waste, and they'd giggle their way back to me, knees topped with a sand-seaweed demi-glace.
A true after-school special. As never
before seen on TV.
He is five years old (five and a half he likes to point out). And she is three.
Five and three? When did that happen?
This weekend, we decided the night prior to participate in the Southern Maine Heart Walk. And if that crazy spontaneity wasn't enough, would you believe we didn't even bring a stroller?
It's funny to think that our strongest candidate for a stroller was actually the one walking the dog for a good bit of the event. (Okay, well the dog might have been walking her, but still, it's some serious progress in terms of mobility.)
And then the boy--who apparently grew out of his pudgy toddler legs during the split second I wasn't looking--had to show off too. Climbing trees and scaling walls as if he wasn't born yesterday. But he was. I'm his mother. Trust me. It was yesterday.
And would ya look at that? She's sitting still! For a stranger! So unfair! Every time I even attempt to brush her hair, she ducks and runs. I need a degree in Kinetic Cosmetology just to finagle a barrette into her hair. But noooo, Stranger Lady can tickle those cheeks till there's a pink heart on her face, and she'll just sit there, eyes closed, angelic.
(In case you're going to google Kinetic Cosmetology, I feel I should tell you I just made that up. But I do think it would be a useful field of study--if someone could just be the pioneer--to learn how to chase my little piece o' work and style her hair at the same time.)
While we walked along the Back Cove, a whole family on foot, I toggled between astonishment at how quickly they've grown, regret over how much of it I wished away, and relief at how much easier it is now in this stage--when their own two little feet can take them places.
I just love those little feet. And I always will, no matter how many sizes they grow, no matter how many miles away they walk.
Linking up with Emily for Tuesdays Unwrapped, grateful for the little gift of little feet--footloose and stroller free.
"If I have a hope, it's that God sat over the dark nothing and wrote you and me, specifically, into the story, and put us in with the sunset and the rainstorm as though to say, Enjoy your place in my story. The beauty of it means you matter, and you can create within it even as I have created you."
-Donald Miller, from A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Looking for Flashback Friday? Well, look no further. Okay, you might have to look a leeetle bit further. Just one click, I promise. My lovely friend Erin (as in Erin of Together for Good) offered to host the fun for a few months while I prepare for the big move and bask in my last couple months of Maine sunshine. (What? The sun really does shine here. The water might still be 40 degrees, but let's not get hung up on the meteorological details, mkay?)
And true to my vow to enjoy these last days on the Maine landscape, earlier this week, I blew off making dinner and took the kids to The Lobster Shack. Do you want to see some pictures? Of course you do.
When Michelle DeRusha asked me to write a guest post at Graceful for her series on Faith & Writing, I hesitated at first. The truth is, I shy away from writing publicly about my personal faith. Many of you who read are "regular life" friends. And while you are all gracious and respectful of my right to believe however I choose, I fear I'll alienate you when I perseverate on the beliefs we don't share.
And for those of you who believe as I do, I worry that I can't share the whole--the real--story in 400-600 carefully structured words. I risk painting myself into a self-righteous corner or (on the other extreme) demonstrating what a schmuck I am. Even when I write something totally and completely from the heart, I sometimes read it the next day and think, I'm such a phony. One minute I'm posting about how every day is a gift. And the next moment I'm yelling at my daughter because she spilled cottage cheese on her school picture day dress. Just hypothetically speaking, of course.
Anyway, I did, in the end, agree to write a post for Michelle's series. The fact is, no matter how risky it is to write about faith, it is by far the most personally rewarding writing I've ever done. This excerpt from my post might explain why:
Madeline L'Engle writes in Walking on Water:
Wounds. By his wounds we are healed. But they are our wounds, too; and until we have been healed we do not know what wholeness is. The discipline of creation, be it to paint, compose, write, is an effort toward wholeness.Writing, for me, is an effort toward wholeness. It is the discipline of talking myself into truth. It is the process by which I find my faith strengthened, by which I pour out my heart and gather it up again with greater courage.
Visit Michelle DeRusha's blog Graceful to read more.
We went looking for a quick lunch, but found Faneuil Hall instead, arriving in the courtyard just in time to hear the Marine Corps band playing the Marines' Hymn. By the time they marched past us at the conclusion of the song, my lashes were busy sweeping away tears. I swallowed hard.
The cadence, the BDUs, the chins up and eyes forward--it takes me back and sometimes forward to the places we have said and will again say goodbye. Hours before we heard the brass humming the halls of Montezuma, the place was my sister's house. And the soldier was her husband, the father to her three girls.
When I think of my sister and her soldier, when I remember how it felt to part with my own warrior, my heart beats a strange rhythm of hollow sad and bursting proud.
Since Uncle S. left a week ago, we have mentioned him each night in our prayers. But last night, I forgot.
Dani sat up. "Mom, you aren't done yet!"
"Yes I am, Hon. I said Amen. Now let's lay down and go to sleep."
"No! You porgot to p'ay to keep Uncle S. tape (safe). And for Gracie and Glory not to be sad. We need to p'ay again."
"You're right, Hon. We need to pray again."
And again and again and again. Until he comes home, until it is your Daddy's turn to go and to return, until lion and lamb share a pasture in lasting peace, until He returns. We need to pray again.
Sharing this Tuesday gift--this prodding (in the form of a 3 year old's bedtime stall tactic) to pray again--with the Tuesdays Unwrapped community at Chatting at the Sky.
So a few days ago I eluded that I might only post sporadically. And then lookie there, three posts in three days! What can I say? I aim to
So remember that trip we took to Boston? I nearly forgot I had one more day to recap before I could tuck the vacation safely into bloggy memory. So here we go.
When our last day dawned in Beantown, we woke up to rain showers both literal and figurative. Let's just say that by day three of no naps, endless walking and early mornings, Dani wasn't exactly Little Miss Sunshine.
She perked up a bit on the subway ride over to the Aquarium, most likely out of relief that she didn't have to walk. And by the time we arrived at the wharf, she and her brother were all smiles.
By far the favorite exhibit of the day was Myrtle the Sea Turtle. Below is a shot of Dani looking up at the 500 pound turtle.
Myrtle returned the look, eying Dani and offering the universal sea turtle greeting of the High Ten. (Up High! Down Low! I'm too slow!)
After the aquarium, we walked over to Faneuil Hall, wandered through the displays for Marine Week, made one last stop at the Public Garden and then headed back to pick up our luggage and catch the train.
And before I put the camera away, I took one final look through the lens.
And boy did I love what I saw.
to call these three my own.
It is the first of my most favorite-est mother's day cards ever. And it reads: (with Caed's contributions in bold italics)
She's as pretty as a ladybug.
She is 19 years old.
She has green eyes and red hair.
She weighs 411 pounds.*
Her favorite food is chocolate.
I think my mom is funny when she is silly.
But I know she is really angry when Dani has a bad attitude.
I wouldn't trade my mom for the trains.
I love my mom because she is nice.
*In his defense, he meant to write 114, per his teacher's note.
Now for a Dani story. Yesterday at breakfast she announced out of the blue, "I painted a power (flower) pot pink and lellow (yellow) por your present when I was a baby. And den you trew it away."
"What Hon? What are you talking about?" I ask, guilt seeping slowly in as I remember the pot she painted--the one that cracked after a year of holding geraniums.
"I painted a power pot at my old 'chool and you trew it away. And DAT IS RUDE, Mommy. You are RUDE."
Seriously. She remembered a flower pot she painted when she was not even 18 months old? Perhaps only because it rested on the kitchen sill for over a year before I recycled it, but still. How on earth did she remember that?
I am so busted. And rude. But at least Caed still thinks I'm as pretty as a 411 pound ladybug.
I am stretched by the daily doing,
Every moment double-booked.
I thought I'd get ahead,
Get it all done
So summer would feel like summer.
Thought I'd hear the shore lapping louder than the washer rinsing.
Thought if a fingertip bled I could blame the hermit crab
Instead of the paperwork.
But here I am.
Weeding, packing, sorting, scrubbing, faxing, and only sometimes sleeping.
None of it is high stress.
I mean, no one dies because you forgot
to free-cycle the lumber scraps or pick up the dental records.
It's all just high volume--
A great many details to supervise,
An endless juggling of must-remembers.
So you will understand if I beg off from Flashback Friday indefinitely?
And if I rarely comment? And only post sporadically?
I want to enjoy my final (for now) season by the rocky shore.
I want to be all here, even if "all here" means buried between cardboard and Craigslist.
I need to go all in, even if it means I'm flat out.
What, did you think I was done with the family vacay stories? Ha! You wish. We've still got two more days to cover, my friend. TWO. MORE. DAYS. Did I mention I took more than 300 photos? Yeah, so we're gonna need to stretch this one out a bit.
So where was I? Oh yes, Day Two.
We made it to the Science Museum just as the doors opened.
We spent the entire morning at the museum and came back for more after lunch. There was just so much to see and learn for science lovers young and old.
Within a short distance of the museum, we found a playground where we stocked up on fresh air and smiles.
Then we headed back in the direction of the hotel, on foot of course.
We stopped for an early dinner in Beacon Hill, and then wound our way through the Boston Common in all its spring glory, discovering ducklings of both the real life and statue variety.
And just as the sun began to drift downward, casting long swan boat shadows across the pond, Caed found the perfect climbing tree. And of course, because Caed climbed the tree, Dani had to follow suit. And hey, while they are both up there, might as well turn it into a photo op, right?
Quick! Larry--get in there! Everybody say BOSTON!
(This ridiculously long title is brought to you by the song "M.T.A.", a tune I carelessly began singing to Dani when we rode the T. It's been stuck in my head for the past three days. Now it's probably in yours. Sorry/You're welcome.)
It's been on the list since we came to Maine; and with another move looming, it was now or never.
So we boarded a train to Boston on Saturday. The kids weren't excited or anything.
First on the docket was the USS Constitution. Once again, not excited at all.
And while I staged a shot to remove all doubt about our tourist status, my two little patriots were already looking to the next thing.
Can't say I blame them. The ice cream was pretty darn good.
This might have been the time when Caed declared that, "Boston is awesome," and put in a request to "live here next."
From the shipyard, we walked the Freedom Trail back into the heart of the city. The kids loved following the red brick. The grown-ups loved how the novelty of a path to follow kept the kids from complaining about walking a mile and a half.
I am tempted to leave out the part where I tried to explain to the children the significance of Paul Revere's ride only to be upstaged by pigeons. Yes, you heard me--pigeons. The kind that let you get just a bit too close and then flap away in a big ruckus. Yeah, those pigeons. Caed and Dani and a random toddler chased them all over the courtyard, garnering smiles from several elderly onlookers and evil bird eyes from the displaced fowl. (Note to self, when a pigeon the size of your neighbor's cat gives your children the stink eye, it's time to leave.)
So a funny thing happens when you get up early, skip a nap, walk a couple miles in the sunshine, and chase sky rodents. You get tired.
Really, really tired.
One day down. Two to go. Tune in tomorrow (or whenever I get around to posting it) for the next installment of our Boston adventure.
Have you ever been to Boston? If you had just one day to spend there, how would you spend it?