“We are time’s subjects, and time bids be gone.” —William Shakespeare


A few years ago I purchased a small, cornflower blue journal with a golden inscription, “One Line A Day – A Five Year Memory Book.” I began making entries just before Jonah turned three when he was ardently discovering the world and slowing my pace so that I might have the pleasure of noticing whiskers on cats right along with him. Adrian was a chubby 8 months old who consumed a diet of avocado and raspberries with abandon—remnants often strewn across his kissable cheeks and our dining room floor. In the tiny space given for each day, I wrote brief impressions about the resonant—yet mostly mundane—moments of our lives. I was hopeful that with a meager single-sentence commitment that I would be steadfast in my resolve to take note and remember these precious times. There are multiple mentions of our blue push car which must have clocked 1,000 miles as we trekked to Shore Road in all manner of weather. I began writing my blog in that year and professed my gratitude repeatedly for this new outlet of expression. Oh, and the snow, there are so many descriptions of the beauty of living in a virtual snow-globe. I do not know why I stopped writing so abruptly. I do remember the struggle of keeping track—of missing days and trying to write backward in time. I’ve since thought a lot about memory. I’ve thought about the stories we hold sacred for our children—and for ourselves—so that we might offer them a framework for their lives. I’ve thought about what it is I remember from my own life and the reasons why. Years have since passed. My boys have grown and expanded and transformed before my eyes until they just burst forth from their place as the tiny innocents within our constant care into these gorgeous, autonomous creatures firmly taking up their very own space in the world.

We are at a local, annual pumpkin festival. We’ve been coming here every season for about six years. It’s quite chilly and many of the hundreds of beautifully carved pumpkins lining the grounds are partially green. We’ve had a rocky start to our afternoon with tears over coats being worn and other general manifestations of tiredness. Feathers unruffled now, we stride up to the festivities and take part in “gourd bowling” and a beanbag toss. Soon we run into “Pumpkin Pete.” He is a familiar fellow with his spongey, orange costume and human body hidden from sight. Jonah strides up to him and reaches out to shake his hand. We smile reminding him of how afraid he used to be of this costumed character and he does a little impression of that faraway time. Adrian grabs my hand so that he might fearlessly go more near. Together we take a photograph. Next we notice giant bubbles in the distance—over by where the band will play later. There is a man there who is using an unusual apparatus—likely of his own construction—in order to create enormous bubbles in various forms. He has configured two long poles tied together with a network of thin rope. With the poles he dips the rope down into a soapy solution then raising them back up into the air he swings them about forming these magical—and enormous—otherworldly creations. Jonah and Adrian at first stand mesmerized. Then they go jumping about with the other children in an attempt to reach these floating, light-filled orbs. Occasionally a taller child manages to catch the edge of a bubble and the soapy liquid comes splashing down on the crowd. This happens just above Adrian. I use my gloved hands to wipe suds from his hat, from his long eyelashes. The sounds of 1980’s popular music fill the air, children are laughing and jumping all around, the bubble man looks on grimly as he works to keep his magic bulbs appearing with so many bouncy children in his midst. I find my eyes fixed on one very large, lone bubble as it travels above the crowd and begins floating further and further away, rotating and expanding and changing shapes as it goes.

 

If you would like to receive Meghan’s Journal Entries upon publication, please share your e-mail address below.

“There is nothing permanent except change.” —Heraclitus

This time last week it seemed that our family could have morphed into a collection of sea creatures—our bodies so well acclimated now to the sun and sand, to the salty sea air. It seemed that summer should go on forever. For days and days we had been soaking in the soothing warmth of the season surrounded by rocks and waves. Living in a climate in which these golden days are bookended by so many chillier ones made our experience all the more glorious. Just as I was beginning to bemoan the end of summer, the tide changed abruptly, reminding me of the cyclical nature of life, reminding me that the only constant in this life is that things will always change. A trip to the beach earlier this week was reminiscent of a dinner I had with a group of friends in New York City a decade ago. We had been like a family with our very own share of dysfunction and delight. After traveling through the many ups and downs of our late 20’s and early 30’s together we finally parted ways after a dinner party in which a candle was knocked over and the table cloth literally went up in flames. We left that dinner and immediately the season of our friendships as we knew them came to an end. This is how I felt when we left the beach earlier this week—as if the curtain had been drawn on our summertime production and the finale was, well, final. There had been a fierce power struggle over lunch, a family walk that ended in a stale-mate and enough tears to fill the sea itself.

By the grace of the Universe I had a singing group to meet with that same evening. There we learned songs—mostly in a style called “Mood of the 5th” that uses a central A tone and moves gently around that tone with undramatic beginnings and endings. In my mind, singing in this way, in a high-pitched voice—no matter your natural range— creates an ethereal setting allowing us to preserve for our children their ties to the heavenly realm from which they came. We use these songs to remind them of their oneness with the world and usher them (back) into a place where they know and feel that they and the world are good. That night, surrounded by a sisterhood of laughter and honey-sweetened and fresh-from-the-garden, peppermint tea, I learned three autumn songs and allowed my day to fall away. I remembered in those two brief hours of communion with other women—with other mothers—that both I and the world are good. “Golden in the morning, golden in the glen,” began one very sweet song. “Rosy apples glow,” started another which was a beloved favorite of a dear mother and friend. “Come away, said the river,” was the third, slightly melancholy yet precious song.

The next morning I brought out these verses over breakfast clean-up and continued to explore them throughout our morning together. I saw my boys in a slow and present way as I sang and found myself lingering over each word—living in each word—and noticing the tone I was making with my voice. I sang very, very slowly aware of a settling coming over our home. I sang these songs over and over until Jonah—my bigger, 4 year old boy— pointed out that I was singing autumn songs and we discussed the new season coming. Like golden leaves falling, each of us fell into our place as I sang.

Autumn is my favorite of all of the seasons. For me it has always marked the opportunity for a new beginning and I look forward to it coming here again very soon. For now though, summer lingers here in Southern Maine with very high temperatures even as the hay is baled. We were at the beach again today. I was glad for the opportunity to begin closing the door more gently on this special, salty season.

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” —Henry David Thoreau

My newly four-year-old Jonah has an adventurous spirit. In a past life he must have flown fighter planes or climbed mountains. He loves to go to new places and together we have already begun a sort of “bucket list” of adventures we can look forward to exploring together when the time is right. At the top of his list is visiting “the desert,” riding on a roller-coaster and going on an African Safari. He is also fascinated by space and imagines himself becoming an astronaut. Sometimes when I am lying in his bed with him—erroneously believing he is about to drift off to sleep—he will suddenly perk up and announce, “Mommy, do you know that it is really, really hard to get up into space? And did you know that the sun is very, very hot?” With a long-standing wanderlust of my own, I very much enjoy imagining the experiences to come. I try not to think of the many adventures he will choose to have without me.

It was with this curiosity, this need for exploration in mind that I decided recently to go outside of our normal routine and take my two boys to a community play space that we had never been to before. Clearly not Kenya, but still a little farther from our home than we would normally travel and unexpected, so exciting for Jonah. I felt excited too as we journeyed down the highway, glancing in the rear view mirror at two happy boys.

The play space was very “hip” feeling and very promising with it’s industrial frame, cafe with lattes on the menu and a wide variety of toys new to my boys. All three of us bibliophiles, we bee-lined for the book room. There was an old Walter Farley book, “Little Black Goes to the Circus,” that we read. I winced at the themes, the images that seemed so coarse now. Adrian—my littler guy—found a familiar book, “Mr. Brown Can Moo,” only this version had even more sounds to make than our smaller copy at home. We snuggled up. I felt at peace. I hadn’t eaten though and there was that cafe so we ordered some food next and the boys wandered off finding various other toys and children to play with. After a while I noticed another mother come in with her two children similar in age to mine. They settled into play at a large barn with many animal figures surrounding them. Jonah became interested in these new faces and in what they were playing and found his way to them.

In the meantime, I was sprawled out on a fluffy couch with Adrian where he was surrounding himself with cushioned blocks. I needed to stay near because I thought he might bounce right off if I left him. Jonah was not far and I could see that he was struggling. His horses were acting rough, like they were wild—a little too wild. I thought it might be a tip-off to his being tired, too much “travel and adventure” after a full morning of play at nursery school. Or maybe this was Jonah’s way of exploring the full range of how life can be. Jonah is well acquainted with the beautiful—the kind doctor and heroic life guard, the delicate nature of a flower petal, a sweet song. He seems now— as his 3T’s become high-waters—to want to complete that circle of knowledge. He is so interested in discovering and understanding the scary dragon now, the “mean guy.” Oh, how I wish I could keep him from ever wanting to know about the “mean guys” of the world.

Sometimes when I give my boys a bath I will sit on the floor beside them reading as they play. Tonight though, bathing them before coming out to write, I curled up on a towel in front of the tub and emptied myself to them. I set aside my worries for what life could do to them. I set aside my fears for how I will handle it all. I even set aside my hopes and dreams for all of the beautiful ways in which the world will open up and allow them to unfold. I dedicated those moments instead to truly seeing them. I saw them outside of what I want them to do and or not do. I saw them for more than what I hope for them and fear for them. I saw them only as the incredibly beautiful and magical creatures in my midst that they are—new and fresh and oh-so-very-full-of-life. First I witnessed Adrian, reveling in a little time in the tub all by himself. It is rare for him—play without the directives of a bigger boy hovering over him—and he seemed so at peace. He spun three little wash cloths around with his still-tiny-hands and toyed with a baby duck sitting in an inner tube. When Jonah joined him, the water became less calm, but I observed how they moved about each other like a flock of birds flying in a v-formation, only rarely running into each other and causing a commotion. Then I saw Jonah. For a brief moment, the boy he is so very quickly becoming—older, more aware, less pure, decisive—was gone. Instead I saw him in a total state of purity, knowing that on some level this still remains. This still remains in all of us. I saw his rosy cheeks. I saw how earnestly he played with a little plastic monster, joyously squirting water from it’s mouth. I saw his body, so vulnerable still. Leaning forward I asked if he would like for the monster to sing a little song. He wasn’t sure at first but then suddenly, eagerly agreed and I took the monster and sung a silly song with a funny voice that I hadn’t done in a while. He remembered and his face absolutely lit up and he began to laugh. His laugh is contagious and his brother and I both began laughing too. There was no listening or not listening in that moment. There was no getting along or not getting along. There was no past or future. There was only bliss. Pure, simple, heart-warming bliss.

 

 

 

“From a small seed a mighty trunk may grow.” —Aeschylus

I am sitting in a cozy, almost empty cafe, my body arranged sideways in my seat—an attempt to avoid lower back pain brought on by exercise done too enthusiastically after a long hiatus. It’s a few days since a gorgeous snow storm left our Pines heavily coated, the view from our home looking perfect—all flaws blanketed with the snow’s immaculate coating.

There are so many things that I should be doing—things that matter to me hugely but that I put on the back burner instead. Bills unsent yet nearly due, children’s clothing piling up and needing to be organized, dear friends and family neglected for months—for years even. Given a few moments to myself, though, I almost never want to tackle my to-do list. My inbox remains full, gifts un-purchased. I long for breathing instead. I long for connection with the part of me that has dreams bigger than a balanced check-book. I long for the part of me who is loved despite being out of touch. I choose in these moments—even as I write—to be with who I am beneath all of the stuff, beneath the powdery surface, down in that very perfect place where I am as real as soil and seeds.

In these precious times I push away the should’s and the need to’s even just for a few hours knowing that it is in this rich and fertile place that I may connect with the possibilities of my life. In these moments I quietly sink into who I really am, knowing that when I return to the responsibilities of my life, I will have something of value to share. Here I connect with the life that I feel called to experience. Between my breaths (and yours), in the space behind my thoughts (and yours) there is great wisdom. There is guidance. There is even great love and forgiveness for all that we as mothers (and fathers and human beings) do and fail to do.

When help is scarce, I know that these moments may also be experienced in the presence of my children. When I’ve allowed myself to, I have found this deep inner silence among my two little boys, cherishing a quiet moment inside of myself when I see that they have embraced each other in play. I have found these moments in the space between the pages of a story I am reading, anchored on either side by warm, little legs. These magical moments can even be experienced in seemingly painful times, like when I am waiting out my two-year-old son Adrian’s cries as he himself expands—wanting and needing to be in charge. There are certainly occasions when I fill my time alone with shopping, the endless gathering of foods and things—and there is absolutely a time and need for this. But I have found, over and over and over that filling myself instead with breath, with connection to the source of all that is beautiful and magical in this world is so very, very beneficial to me and to my children. I come back to myself, I come back to my children a more complete and centered being.

While the covering of our (last?) snow of the season was experienced as so magical and made everything look so very beautiful, we—in our home, and in my soul—are eager for the first signs of Spring, for the unearthing of our garden, for the further unearthing of ourselves and for digging our hands into the earth, planting seeds and growing in the process.