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.

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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 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.

Posted in Mid-Life Mama, Round Two, Teens

Laundry day

Aidan & another insect. #laundryday 2017, Kelly Salasin

I borrowed my son from his bedroom for his height–to remove a grasshopper from the inside of the screen door off my bedroom.

He hesitates, so I press, “Just lift it up and put it outside!”

Aidan is absurdly afraid of spiders, but grasshoppers?

He is also an engineer.
(Well, a 17-year-old with an engineering mind.)

He taps the screen and the grasshopper jumps onto the glass door.

“Now what!” I say, aggravated with the delay, but he only smiles.

He quickly pulls the screen closed so that the bug is on the outside of the glass door without return access.

“Engineering,” he says, with pride.

Relieved, I return to folding laundry, but distracted, Aidan remains at the door, which has become a specimen jar–eye to eye.

“Come look!” he says.

But I am not interested in grasshoppers–the whole point was to get rid of the grasshopper. But this is his last year at home.

“Watch,” he says, giggling, as the grasshopper pulls down its antenna, like a girl playing with her hair.

Each time Aidan laughs, the grasshopper does it again.

“He must be a comedian,” I say.

“He’s looking right at us,” Aidan says.

“Doesn’t it seem like he’s wearing a metal shield on his head?”

“Exoskelton,” Aidan says.
(He is also a scientist.)

I don’t know how to get from this story to what I want to say.

It’s a leap, like the grasshopper made from the door back into the world.

I’m grateful for this pause with Aidan and the grasshopper for the way it reminds me to stop trying so hard.

Like the Buddhist teacher, Pema Chödrön says:

There’s a kind of basic misunderstanding that we should try to be better than we already are, that we should try to improve ourselves, that we should try to get away from painful things, and that if we could just learn how to get away from the painful things, we would be happy.

I want to know this.
In my bones.

Posted in Holidays, Round Two, Teens, What's Next? (18 & beyond)

The Nest, wide open


I expected to wake cranky this morning, and I suppose I am (my youngest didn’t get home until midnight & my mother is 18 years dead), but my first thought/feeling/sensation was santosha/satisfaction/sweetness–for a job well done.

This is my last mother’s day with a child at home.

I first felt the pang of the empty nest in the shower on the morning after my oldest was born.

A month later, I began writing about this messed up love story, and years later, after both boys were in school, I began this very blog in an effort to get a jump start on the sucky ending ahead.

But that was a mistake. If I were to start name this blog now, I’d call it something else.

The Spacious Nest.

Welcome.

Posted in Fathers, Fragile Life, Insight, Round Two, School, Teens

Late for School

Beyond the awakening is the fragility to which i am most attuned;
Because hasn’t spring brought both love & heartache, conception & loss, burials and re-births?

How do I explain what it is to see a parent outside the highschool, pacing back and forth on her cellphone. Or another, a father, walking briskly toward the building with cleats in his arms. Or my own cheek still charged with the bristle of my son’s as he kissed me goodbye and hopped out of the driver’s seat… the car emptied of his breakfast, his music, his overbearing book bag.

I remain still. Bound to the passenger side of this empty vehicle.

Waiting? Watching? What?

The speed of time?

How suddenly the landscape becomes lush?

No matter how inconvenienced we are. These children. These lives. Ready to fly. Are everything.

Even as we let them go. Little by little. And then all at once. Holding on to the simplest ways to say:

We are.

We were once.

One.