First Day and Everyday

Pickle

First grade starts next week.

First grade for my kind, freckled thinker who is finding his voice, and up at night pondering the merits of inboard motors.

He will be fine.  What choice does he have other than to be fine, to navigate his life on his own, at least a little bit, and figure out the way of the world through the small, significant, triumphs and heartbreaks of childhood.

The skinny-legged boy with the too-big backpack (aren’t they all?) will walk into school and I will drive away.  And get a coffee.  And drive to work.  I will not worry.

I am ready for the big moments.

I am ready for first steps, lost teeth, first days.  I am ready to watch them glide away without training wheels, to sound out books on their own, to tie their shoes.

My tender heart catches when I least expect it.

When the biggest helps the littlest with his shoes.

When the middle uses a big word I haven’t heard her use before.

When the wobbly toddler gait all of a sudden becomes smooth and coordinated.

We may mark the time with first steps and first days.  But it is those tiny changes, the ones we almost don’t see, that add up to people, our people, growing a hair’s width every night.  Our little people whose lives slowly and beautifully start to become their own, separate from us.  One millimeter, one second at a time.

In the cool dark, the clock ticks and they sing our bedtime songs with lyrics of their own.  And then a quiet pause as they drift away into dreams that are theirs alone.

 

 

I Miss Brunch.

I saw them. Sitting outside in the August overcast cool. They had drinks, cocktails, beer, small plates. They were leaning back, relaxed. They were talking. Laughing. Sipping.

Brunch. 2pm on a Sunday.

I looked at them and thought that perhaps after brunch, they’d wander home, flip through a magazine, take a nap under a spinning ceiling fan, belly full and head a little swimmy from the mimosas. They’d wake up, maybe shop a bit for nothing in particular, and without a list or itinerary. They’d pick up a piece of fish or some scallops for dinner. They’d take a walk. They’d take a drive. They’d go pick some raspberries. They’d consider going to the movies and decide against it. They’d finish reading the Sunday paper or the latest New Yorker. Maybe that woman would research a new bathroom fixture, pluck her eyebrows. Maybe she’d spend some time sorting old photos or looking up new recipes, listening to a podcast of storytellers. Maybe she’d finally clean out that closet. Make some raspberry muffins. Fold some laundry. Lie in bed in the quiet and think.

I miss that.

I miss brunch.

I miss the me I used to get to be. I miss being untethered.

I would like to say that I am the same person I was before I had children. But I’m not. The very center of me has changed. I am tied to them and there is never a moment they aren’t with me. In me.

And now, even when I get that time, that time to myself, to enjoy lazy brunches, to browse bookshops, to just be, by myself, and to recreate those untethered times, I recognize they are just that — recreations. They are wonderful and restorative times, but they are recreations of a time and a me that no longer exist. And when my hour or two is over I slip off that costume of my former self and return to being me, the current edition.

Still, sometimes, I miss brunch. I’ve replaced it with unreasonable wake up calls, too much cold coffee, Cheerios on the floor. But I also get tiny toenails, perspectives on the world from those new to it, and the warmth and heaviness of small sleeping bodies laying, growing, breathing, against mine. And though sometimes I miss the way brunch used to be, the changed me wouldn’t trade. And I know that’s the way it is supposed to be.

New Normal

What is that holding up your head?

And just like that, my daughter has a neck.

Granted, she’s always had a neck.  A cute little stem of a neck that I never really much noticed as it was holding up her big baby head, with its in-need-of-a-trim strawberry-blonde hair and sticky-outie ears. But today I noticed it.  Because it was different. She appeared to me, all at once, older, larger, like a child instead of a baby.

And that’s how it happens.  It’s a universal parenting experience. One day, when you aren’t expecting it, you look at that little boy or little girl and suddenly they look bigger, leaner, older, different.  They are changed – at least in your eyes – overnight.  It amazes me. Every single time.

Sweetie Plum

Turn Around (Harry Belafonte, Malvina Reynolds and Alan Greene)

Where are you going, my little one, little one,
Where are you going, my baby, my own?
Turn around and you’re two,
Turn around and you’re four,
Turn around and you’re a young girl going out of my door.
Turn around, turn around,
Turn around and you’re a young girl going out of my door.

Where are you going, my little one, little one,
Little dirndls and petticoats, where have you gone?
Turn around and you’re tiny,
Turn around and you’re grown,
Turn around and you’re a young wife with babes of your own.
Turn around, turn around,
Turn around and you’re a young wife with babes of your own.