Posted in College, Mid-Life Mama, Milestone Moments, Mother to Crone, What's Next? (18 & beyond)

Old Yeller

It turns out that I resent my children for aging out of our lives.

This is a surprise, because I was never one of those moms who wished the kids stayed little forever.

I always liked when they aged.

New beginnings and all.

And I am really looking forward to belonging to myself again. To rediscovering what that means.

So why this hostility?
This grief?

How does it hurt so much when I wouldn’t have it any other way?

These aren’t questions I’m asking my own heart. Questions that wake me into the moment so that I don’t miss it while hating them.

“I wish I never loved you at all,” I want to yell.
“LEAVE!”

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Posted in College, Mid-Life Mama, Milestone Moments, Mother to Crone, What's Next? (18 & beyond)

Empty Nest Countdown…

august 10, eve of the new moon eclipse:

the night sky & i have companioned these two nights–first the museum lantern walk with my husband & son and then this evening’s solo soak in the woods tub–crickets sounding, Venus & Jupiter rising, bat circling overhead; this afternoon spent readying the home for the great transition–the last eclipse–Leo New Moon–Mother to Elder, “Dark of the moon, New beginnings, Dark of the moon, Plant a seed tonight,” the house aglow, welcoming letting go, the path to the back door still holding the day’s heat…

When, in two-weeks time, this new moon waxes full, 3 have become 2…
~

august 9, road trip, part I. & II.

“Mom, what do you want your tombstone to look like?”

~

Aidan talks to us about science & technology, non-stop, grilling us on what we don’t know (and don’t want to know)  “Preparing us for the future,” aka. shaming us for our ignorance, disinterest & fea

After much trial and error in search of an equally potent rebuttal topic (beyond “I taught you how to use a spoon and wipe your butt,”), I found the perfect one, something that is of little use to him, potentially aggravating and which I know more about.

(Thank you Vacation Bible School & Catholic higher ed.!)

~

august 7, looking back:


We were still in our twenties (and childless) on this day in 1993 when Casey and I left the sea for our new home in these Green Mountains.

both boys were conceived in this, our first house in Vermont, the longest I’d lived anywhere

both born in August, our youngest in the sweet room with the dormer and the louver window (aka. the small farmhouse bathroom), crowded with his father, his aunts, his big brother and not one, but two midwives with a dear friend looking on…

~
august 5, date night

filter play & ballet at the Retreat Farm with the bathroom baby, just after his 18th birthday

~

july 31, emptying

Aidan left town for a couple days which is a weird thing to say, but he will turn 18 in two days and that’s how it goes even if he has been our baby for so long which means we’ve aged him in our minds to about 13.

Won’t we be surprised in 3 weeks when he no longer lives here!

Which brings me to the dishwasher, almost full, even though it’s just been the two of us.

“If we time it right, we can get Aidan to empty it,” I joke to Casey after our quiet breakfast date on the porch, to which he replies:

“Let’s get as many empties out of him as we can before he goes.”

~

july 29, births

I wake to the bold, buttery-lemon bloom of the DAYLILY which cheers my weary countenance and immediately brings to mind our fair-haired, sky-eyed, LEO, born this week, 18 years ago, under the sign of the SUN; as too his older brother, but two weeks deeper into the month of August, with a darker complexion, much like the TIGER LILY, whose sunset hues, like the embers of a fire, welcome me home.

~
july 27, in a month’s time

This time next month will be a Monday, with all my guys back to school, but come evening, only one will return, and that will be a turning point for me Casey, just the two of us again, like we once were.

I expect searing pain, deep despair, and then something else, some new, precious, delight.

After we dropped our firstborn off to college a handful of years ago, it felt as if our family of four, reduced to three, limped away from Burlington, like all the families with younger siblings we saw around us.

I can’t fathom how it will feel to head home without either child.

~
july 25, un-nesting

Just before Aidan’s college orientation last week, I began filling a basket for him with teas and ointments and band-aids.

“I’m not ready for that,” he admonished me when I asked what else he might need; but I wouldn’t/couldn’t stop, so necessary was the ritual to meet the angst inside.

This week, I find myself retrieving items from the basket. A few packets of tea. The open mouthwash.

What was I thinking? He doesn’t leave for another month (exactly.)

I remember the morning his older brother was to return to school after the long winter break (or was it after the summer one?)

While he was still sleeping, I unpacked one heavy box into two smaller ones which made more sense not just because of the weight but because of the organization of similar items.

I felt much better after that, but I wasn’t surprised when he arrived downstairs to see what I had done and was furious.

First-borns like myself have such a need for autonomy and self-direction having spent too much time in the lone company of (and constant direction from) adults.

After he finished dumping the contents of both boxes back into the larger one (excruciatingly more disorganized than before) , I grabbed the electric tea kettle that I’d bought him for Christmas, and he grabbed it too, and we stood on opposite sides of that big box, wrestling over where it would go.

“Just let me have this,” I said, and in my eyes, he finally understood.

I wasn’t trying to control him. I was trying to control the awful ache of letting go.

Posted in Fathers, Fragile Life, Insight, Legacy, Milestone Moments, Mother to Crone, Nuts & Bolts, Round Two, Takes a Village, Teens, Twenty-something, What's Next? (18 & beyond)

“Someday” has arrived


Our community came together one day in June to raise the frame of our home–along with 3-year-old Aidan who spent the day hammering nails into the floorboards of what would be our kitchen; and 8-year-old Lloyd who knelt beside his preschool & primary teachers laying down the floor to what would become his bedroom; and Casey, age 38, who lifted beams with friends & family (and even strangers) to realize a dream come true; and me, age 40, who never had the chance to live in one place very long and who climbed the frame at the end of the day and tapped an evergreen branch to its peak while everyone cheered below.

14 years have passed.
14 Christmases.
14 wedding anniversaries.
14 winters & springs.
14 summers.
14 autumns.

Over the years, Casey spoke of needing an addition—the living room was always too small; but I countered that the boys would be gone someday and the house was already too large for two.

“Someday” has somehow arrived.

What was “raised” to be a home for 4, becomes a home for 2 at the end of summer—which is almost as unfathomable as building this home for ur family once was.

Posted in Fragile Life, Insight, Legacy, Takes a Village, Violence in the home

the fruit of pain


Having had too much to drink, I once openly grieved the separation of young children from their mother and siblings, adding to that my heartache about the emotionally abusive treatment they were receiving in their new residence.

For this admission of vulnerability and empathy, I was mocked, publicly, at a table in a cocktail lounge at the restaurant I managed during my summer breaks from school.

“If you really cared about them, you would skip your semester abroad,” he said.

I considered legal proceedings. I considered dropping out of school and getting a job so that I could afford a house that would fit us all. But these thoughts, like my voice, were futile. I wasn’t in a democracy. I was in a family.

All over Facebook, friends are sharing their stories of separation–the lasting impact–from the Holocaust to asylum-seeking to summer camp.

Feeling our own pain, however large or small, is a radical act. It allows us to feel the pain of another, without making it our own, which only serves to immobilize us.

Self-connection is necessary. Self-connection allows us to stay attuned to the needs of others while remembering our response-ability to the life we inhabit, right in the moment.

Self-connection might look like a walk, or a nap, a therapist chair, a bodyworkers table, a cup of tea in the garden, a meditation on a hummingbird’s flight, a weekend retreat, anything that reminds us of our distinctness so that the connection we offer is whole.

We have each experienced the pain of separation.

May it bear fruit.

 

Posted in Mid-Life Mama, Nuts & Bolts, Teens, Wisdom of Youth

a boy and his vacuum


I’ve either done something right or terribly wrong.

Our very first vacuum was an Electrolux from our Wedding Registry, 1990. It was with us through our move to Vermont, through the birth of two kids, and into the home we built together.

Our oldest was 15 & youngest 10 when we had to replace our old pal. The kids were ecstatic. I was alarmed.

Should kids be this happy about a new vacuum?

Did this mean they were too involved in housekeeping?

Or were their lives unduly deprived of new things?

We did lead a very frugal life. I did expect them to be full participants in caring for the home we shared. Maybe I had gone too far.

Fast forward 7 years…

We’ve been without a vacuum for over a month now. It’s the second time this new Electrolux has stopped working. My husband and our youngest have been in a stalemate over how to move forward.

Repair–for this machine whose life was a quarter of that of its predecessor; or
Replace–and with what? Another Electrolux? Something new?

My husband wanted to play it safe.

Our son, the high school engineer wanted something technologically advanced.

I finally intervened.

“He only has a few months left at home,” I said, “Let him have this.”

“Exactly,” my husband said. “Why should we get the vacuum he wants when he’s leaving.

The Dyson V7 HEPA arrived today. The moment I messaged him, Aidan wanted to leave school.

When he walked through the door at the end of the day, he went right to the boxes (which I had to promise that I would not open without him) and he began unpacking, affectionately examining each piece, and bringing them to me, one by one, to illustrate the technology and the design (are those two different things?), and particularly the interlocking components.

It looks like a Cuisinart to me.

I will never be able to operate it.

But right now I’m headed to my husband’s yoga class and by the time I get home, no doubt I’ll have clean floors again.

Posted in Insight, Mother to Crone

the daughter i always had

On Mothers Day, I posted an old photo of my two sons with this caption:

M-iraculous
O-ffering of
T-ender
H-eart
E-nergy
R-ealized

Which inspired me to post a followup photo of my daughter.


With this caption:

My daughter~my lila~my play of consciousness~ready for another mother-daughter adventure, in our ever-unfolding dance of devotion, which took root in 2012, a dozen years after my youngest son was born and which will soon be light enough to fly!

Posted in Fragile Life, Insight, Mother to Crone, Takes a Village, Teens

Sleep entitlement

One of the things I most look forward to in my time apart from family is the opportunity to rediscover my own rhythms… with food and work and most of all (and particularly in the throes of this final hormonal coup) SLEEP.

Ahhh, to sleep through the night!
Without the torment of teenagers traipsing and a snoring bedfellow (with an aging prostate.)

But alas, 5 nights & counting, and it wasn’t meant to be.

There are many factors to blame for this injustice.

But there is also something else.

Curiosity.

How is it that I have come to expect that my sleep be insulated from the world around me—from the weather, from fellow human beings, from four-legged ones, from neighborhood celebrations, from worrying about the news and from the sounds of sudden middle of the night emergencies…

Who I am to deserve such isolation from the life we share?

When I was a young mother faced with friends & relatives who had schooled their infants into sleeping through the night (while my toddler was still woke to nurse), I read something that stuck with me:

“Parents and doctors aren’t entitled to sleep. Waking comes with the job.”

To be awakened.
Not a bad thing.

And so the same might be true of the homeless people who disturb my walks downtown, and the immigrants who disturb my sense of belonging, and the strangers who disturb my sense of community.

We are infinitely among.
How might we better abide this?

How might this abiding lend itself to a softer surrender into all that is and into a fiercer voice for that which truly shouldn’t be so–for anyone.