My family traveled inland a bit to Sebago Lake in the last weeks of summer. It was one of a few outings we made in those days—my husband lifting his head from deep in work and suddenly realizing the summer days were winding down. The sprawling, warmer, more-swimmable waters we found there were different from what we experienced on our typical ocean beach days that had made our summer so salty. There I found myself drifting on a pink princess water float—it was all they had left in the raft shack—with my bigger boy Jonah. He had changed in the summer—filled now with the budding confidence of a soon to be five year old, filled with maturing ideas about the world, with maturing movements and expressions and other ways of being. No matter how I try, I cannot keep him small. Jonah was willing to float on that raft all day long, no matter the purpling of his lips, no matter the slight shiver I noticed in his still slight body every now and then. I was chilly myself but I cherished this time alone with him and reveled in our companionship. Together we noticed a ladybug crawling up his arm. He suggested we make a wish on it before it blew or flew away. I’m not sure if I had imparted this idea of wish-making on ladybugs to him. It certainly sounded like something I might have shared. I made a silent wish for peace and harmony in my life and in my home. Jonah closed his eyes with a little squint and made a wish too. After the ladybug had gone, I asked Jonah what he wished for. He said we couldn’t share it with me or it wouldn’t come true—something else I might have inadvertently imparted. I really wanted to know his wish! I knew his wish of course. And it turns out he knew mine as well. I proposed the idea of guessing each other’s wishes and asked Jonah if we guessed them, would that keep them from coming true? He didn’t think so. “That would be ok,” he said. And so with a little grin between us, I asked him what he thought I wished for. “Peace and harmony,” he replied without skipping a beat. My eyes widened and I laughed with surprise. He grinned ear to ear. “What did I wish for?” he asked. “For chocolate ice cream,” I replied nonchalantly. I had only the slightest doubt in my answer. “Yep!” he said laughing. That memory is golden to me. I see the sun shimmering on the water and on my dear boy’s face. I feel my hair dripping and the freshness of makeup washed away. I notice the contentedness in Jonah, soothed and settled by the rise and fall of the raft for so many hours.
I had just given Adrian—my littler one—a bath. He’s standing in front of me in our long hallway, filled up with a plan for racing, for running from end to end. He isn’t noticing his little, compact body like I am—still with a diaper bump that will last not much longer. He isn’t noticing his round, soft cheeks. His hair is damp. I can almost smell his freshness. I am alone with him and before reading his bedtime books I am being challenged to a race. He guides me to the starting line at my bedroom door and gets his little body crouched into ready position and then in his deepest, loudest voice he shouts, “on or arks, et set, goooo!” Indeed, his call can be heard from neighbors all around, I’m certain. And as we begin running I feel as if I am in slow motion noticing the way he uses his whole body to propel himself forward, noticing the way he hoists his elbows up vigorously behind him. I am just behind him but looking over him as we run, fully taking him in, fully knowing that this exquisite time will pass. The diaper bump will be no longer. The desire to always be with me will fade away.
It must be very difficult if you read my blog and imagine that all of my moments are like these—if you imagine that I am always capable of noticing, of making the right choices. It must be difficult if you imagine that I have it all figured out. I want to assure you that I do not. Our family has struggled in the last few weeks. We’ve been challenged by illnesses and diagnoses, by transitions and logistics, by the very experimental nature of parenting in the way that we are. I have faltered. I have cried. I have made others cry. And the only thing that I have figured out is how to be an attentive witness of myself. Sometimes even as I am deep in this place of witnessing, I see the things that I do that are surely not the right things to do and I do them anyway! I do not despair, though. And neither should you. In my mind, intention goes a very long way and the intent to mother consciously, to mother mindfully is in the very fabric of my being. I trust in the end result of that. I trust in the end result of loving so much it hurts. And so should you, dear mother. So should you. Thinking of you all with love.