Jun 29, 2015


 "Young boys should never be sent to bed. They always wake up a day older." 
Last night, I picked him up from his crib while he was still sleeping. He snuggled close to me in the dim room lit from the hallway. I slowly rocked from side to side the way a mother innately does when she holds her baby. He legs folded into my arms, and his head rested perfectly on me, just right, as if my shoulders were always meant to carry the weight of that blonde head. I whispered that I loved him, and with closed eyes, he whispered "luh you"  back. There are moments when I know I'll never remember the details, but I know I'll remember the feeling, and this was one. The feeling of letting go just a little more when I only want to hold tighter. Because today, Walter turns two.

What I do remember vividly is what happened two years ago. I remember how I went to bed and woke up a half hour later in full labor. I remember the car ride to the hospital through dark and empty streets on that June night. I remember how quickly it all happened, and I remember all the pain. But most of all, I remember someone in the room telling me that it was a boy. And when I held him that first time, I realized I'd been missing him so much even though we hadn't met until that second. My heart was waiting so long to kiss him and call him my son. There's a love more powerful than the storybook love at first sight; it's the love so strong before the first glimpse. Every movement and strong kick felt, every heartbeat heard thumping on a monitor, and every time I stood in his empty nursery, thinking about who I would bring home from the hospital- they were all preparing me to cherish this little boy of mine.

He runs a little farther from me than he used to, busy with so much to learn, and see, and do. But he always run back, needing a hug when he falls down or when his feelings are hurt. And though I know I will fail both Millie and Walter a hundred times over, I can promise that I will always be here when they need to run back. They'll never know that I need those embraces more than they ever will. I'm grateful that he still looks back and runs for me now.

Today, he is two. Today, he is closer to more words, more complicated thoughts, more joy, more sadness, and more life. It's hard to arrange the cards and balloons without a little ache, because the boy who needed me for everything needs me a little less every day. But it's also impossible not to celebrate the last two years, because he's brought more happiness to our family than I could have ever imagined.  

We've played, we've cuddled, we've danced, and we've been up late from a fever. We have walked and ran and climbed and read and napped together. We have learned and we have grown. And Walter, how sweet it has been.

Happy birthday, little love. You're my favorite boy in the world. I can't wait for our next adventures.

Jun 10, 2015


"It was the time of year, the time of day, for a small insistent sadness to pass into the texture of things." 

He was clutching his stuffed mouse, cradled in my arms, and I carried him through the hallways to his room. I turned the doorknob slowly until it clicked, and waited for another cry, but he was too tired now. I stood in the deep, eerie purple of twilight that shifted into blue, tinting the walls, the daisies on my table, and the dishes I was too tired to put away. It was silent and serene, waiting there in the almost-dark for nothing. The movement of night-blackened trees through the window caught my eye, and reminded me there were hours left in the day despite the moon's sheen. I'm not afraid of the dark anymore. I'm used to it.

When her auburn curls are tousled on a flowery pink pillow, and an airplane mobile barely flutters over his blonde head, I tell myself that this is all I need. I lay sideways on the bed and press play on an old black and white movie. (Right now, it's anything with Barbara Stanwyck.) Was it better then? If I had the right kind of hat to wear with my coat, and lipstick to match my high heels, would everything feel settled? Would it all wrap up neatly the way it tends to do in an hour and a half of romance, confusion, love letters, and resolution?

I keep wondering how I got here. In the span of a few years, life has changed many times over. I remember the girl I was five or ten years ago. She wasn't sure of herself, but she was sure of the world- a strange place to be. She hoped and trusted, and she believed in happy endings to the darkest stories. I laugh at her, pity her, and want to be her all over again. There may be a secret to a soft heart after heartache, but I haven't found it yet. It seems more knowledge only brings more to defend against. Sometimes at night, I think about the ones who have told me their secrets and sorrows, and wonder if they're still awake, too.

I've been exchanging letters with someone who is in his late eighties. He tells me about his childhood and early adulthood, and I marvel at it. There are twists and turns in his story so painful, I catch my breath as I read. So much tragedy for someone that young. But he tells me these things because they are a part of his story now, and, I think, he accepts them. And while I wonder if he would change them if he had the chance, I also wonder if he's thought of it that way. I'm still looking for an escape, and he's content. Among the sadness, he vividly remembers the good, the foolish, and the details of many events like they were yesterday.

I wonder what I will have to write about in another fifty years. If the good triumphs by then, and I can feel my heart beating beneath my hand and know that I have lived fully. Life is forever a back and forth, round and round motion. Much of the good is hard to get in focus. Sometimes it means holding it very close to see it well. And other times, it means standing at a distance, and surveying all I have.

There are gifts here, I remind myself, if I can breathe and wait long enough for the light to see them clearly.

Jun 3, 2015

Night in June

 "Green was the silence, wet was the light,
the month of June trembled like a butterfly." 

It's the time of year when Millie's cheeks are dotted with more and more freckles, and the smallest hint of sunburn pink. Walter wants to spend every waking moment outdoors, and shrieks with delight when I mention a walk. The corn is shooting up so quickly, it looks different every time I pass the fields. The country roads are begging to be driven. It smells like warm, fresh air and growing things.

There are a lot of miniature blog posts I want to write, so I'm writing them all here in this jumbled, rambling space. Most of what I write isn't planned. It just spills out when I am overflowing. Seasons changing tends to do that to me.

June is proving to be a difficult month, even though we're only a couple days in. Sky is at WLC for most of it. And Walter turns two at the end of the month. It's starting to sink in how much he's grown, and how little baby there is left. I think I'm much more emotional about this birthday than I was on his first- I can't even type this without crying. It's hard to let that stage go. In another world, perhaps, I would long for another baby. But in this world, there are too many complications, and so that chapter is probably over. That's its own strange kind of grief, and I'm still figuring it out, really.

I have been thinking a lot about my legacy. What I'll leave behind. A lot of people I "know"- like a beautiful woman who wrote here, or our local TV anchor- have passed away in the last few months. It's shaken me up a lot for never even meeting them in person. Maybe because they were so young. Maybe because I'm realizing how scary cancer can be. Or maybe it's just because when someone is gone, I can't help but wonder what it will be like when I'm gone. Both of those people left a community of family and friends who couldn't speak anything bad about them. I cannot picture more than a couple dozen people at my funeral, but I hope they have stories to tell. I want to leave good to remember. I want my heart to always be aware that the seemingly small things are what last.

Since having kids, one thing has become incredibly obvious to me; I am much more old fashioned than most people. I don't mean old fashioned in a cutesy way, like collecting old typewriters (although that sounds nice), but in terms of my values. The way I parent and steer our family life is the opposite of most of my friends and family. The things that matter are different when there are little ones looking up to me, ready to imitate my every move. There is so much pain and confusion our there, and I fiercely try to protect their innocence. Many people spit out the word "sheltering" as if it's a horrible thing, but, to be plain, I absolutely want to shelter my children. Someone once compared raising children to growing a seedling. And that spout needs to be cared for closely, safely, until it can grow strong enough to be outdoors in all the harsh weather. That's how I feel about it.

And life lately? A lot of quiet. A lot of alone time. A lot of coffee. A lot of reading about Harper Lee before her book comes out next month. I think Miss Lee and I would be good friends, but like most introverts, we'd probably never meet because it would mean interacting with another person. So I'll be here in Illinois, and she'll be there in Alabama, and I'll relish every moment of reading her second story.

Tonight, I only see one or two bright, steady stars in the sky. The house is softening in its nightly silence. It's a night that would be good for crying to let out a bit of pressure, but that's what writing is for. Evenings are my favorite, though. I love the hush, the glimpse of the moon, the soft light in the house, and a moment with my thoughts. There is so much to do all day, but the night sweeps in and there is rest, so we have the strength to make it to another June day tomorrow.

And tomorrow, there is much to grow, much to learn, and a lot of coffee to drink.
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