Every now and then our Saturday is less scheduled, relatively uneventful, and just us. Three is company, and five is a lovely crowd. I’ll take my Saturday with a side of family.
Saturday mornings were made for siblings sharing laughs, a yellow plush giraffe and a red caterpillar, for lying around in orange pajamas, and taking in the gray day.
With so much recent public discussion about the politics of parenting in this macro, policy shifting sense, I’ve been thinking a lot about the dozens of micro choices we make as parents every day. Every moment seems to be a shifting, a debate within ourselves as to how to parent, and what we do about time.
The other morning as I gathered my things, a bag on each arm, my wedges (and my flats), a snack for my commute, my three year old, with his pleading brown eyes looked to me and said, “I want to go with you.” It was in that split second that I had to think, to possibly craft a response, a clever one, a concise one (as I was already a bit behind schedule). I thought to myself, I needed to let him down easy, counter his request with a promise to pick him up from school or take him to school the next day. But in that split second, or maybe many more seconds later, I realized where I was headed (work) was fixed. My job (though I had a big program going on that day) wasn’t going anywhere, it would be there when I got there, even if I got into the office just a few minutes later than I had planned. I would still be early and prepared, the work would still get done, and the program would still go on.
But back in the living room with my three year old, I considered there might not be another ask if in this very moment I said, “no.” My husband questioned whether or not I had time to take him to school, but I thought to myself, “I could make time.” It was such a simple request. He wasn’t asking for anything unreasonable, it wasn’t a major crisis, it was an ask for more time. Time, the thing we all seem to grapple with; and as a parent, the thing that seems to elude me every single day. In that very moment my son just needed more time with me, and as I rounded out all of the reasons (or maybe excuses) for why I could have said, “not today,” or “maybe later,” I simply said, “o.k.”. He put on his socks, his shoes, and his coat; then grabbed my hand, looked up and smiled. “I’m going with mommy,” he announced. In that very moment nothing else mattered but his hand in mine, walking out the door to school, to work, together.
That sleepy baby lying across his father’s lap is a soft pod, warm in elbow bend. His tiny fingers barely curl around his father’s worn knuckles, cup his stubble chin, press thumb against kiss.
There are men that father, breathe in deliberate moments of time with the child or children in their lives. Sign a wisdom with deep voices, burly echoes as acts of love and parenting, raise that child, those children with their hands and their hearts.
My eight-year-old rose very early this morning got dressed and through his entire morning routine to join me downstairs during my writing time. First thing he did was turn on all the lights (sometimes I write in the dark), and started talking non-stop about everything—why he likes his new Star Wars book, all the new dance moves he’s been doing, why when milk spoils, its property changes, and how he wants to eat a big bowl of cereal so he can save the last English muffin for someone else (how thoughtful).
Though my son was technically interrupting my writing time with his colorful spurts of chatter, I kind of liked that he wanted to “hang out” with me this morning, so I put my computer away to sit and focus on him. Later, after tons of topics and that big bowl of cereal, I asked him why he was up so early and he replied, “I’m excited to go to school.” (Ok, I’ll take that). Even later after he settled into a book, I got back to writing.
My writing space and time are sacred, but this morning, it was easy to choose a bit of time with my son over writing. Sometimes it’s more meaningful to spend that space, that time with kids when they need it. Besides, those words in my head aren’t going anywhere (I hope). What do you do when life interrupts your writing? What/who do you sometimes choose over writing?
I don’t miss those bunches of strands I left on the floor by the chair in the beauty shop. I walked away from that shop, not with clinging swirls on top of my head, against my cheeks, but with my own revised ideas on beauty as robust and brilliant as the thickening wind I can now feel behind my ears. I left on that floor in the shop time I’ve spent manipulating, fussing with that hair for it to at some point during the day to fail me.
There is something unpredictable about our hair and in some ways that is magic, but in other ways, it is demanding, of our time, our money, our self-esteem. I sat in that chair thinking about how much time and money I’ve spent trying to make my hair behave in rain, in wind, in transit, in love.
I should say that I have not given up on those strands dusting the tops of my shoulders. Instead, I gave in to time and space for me, my family, my life. For now I’d rather wake up in the morning, sit just a bit longer, write, wonder, feel the still curling in short wisps on the back of my neck.
At some point in our lives we all contemplate change. Maybe it’s not a big haircut, but surely there is something we all have changed about ourselves. Think about a time when you changed something in your life to make room, make time for something else. How did it feel to initially to make that change? How does it feel now?
As if you haven’t had ample doses of love these past few days, here’s another peek at a week’s worth of “found” love, slightly remixed and re-imagined. Enjoy your Sunday!
Brotherly Love (link)
(Good) Love (link)
(Sweet) Love (link)
It rolls off the tongue doesn’t it? Brown Butter Almond Brittle. A fresh pint from our local Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, a most magical ice cream shop, with flavor pairings artfully mixed together, and ingredients from all over the world as well as locally sourced right here in “the buckeye state”. Brown Butter Almond Brittle is a balance of sweet and salty, smooth creamy layers buttoned with buttery crunchy bits. Even as the snow gathers outside, and the temperature drops, a scoop (or two) of Jeni’s ice cream was a perfect way to top off our Saturday.
I’ve come to know that all (or most) love is not happily ever after all the time—it might be ever after, but a lot can happen between the happily (those first flutters of a love swelling belly) and ever after (whenever that might be). I’ve come to understand that love is active and ever-working in and through an unpredictable life. Love has its moments of bliss but isn’t covered in sunshine and rainbows at every turn.
I am curious about love in all its slippery wisdom, it’s capability to transform someone’s life and its ability to attempt ruin. Love is this wonderfully abstract truth and contradiction that eludes my humble words and lyric every time. But I keep chasing after it, kind of like those of us in love who keep loving even when we wonder where that love has gone (some days), or why it changed suddenly (other days), and why it feels just perfect (still other days). That is the beauty and truth of love, hope in every single blissful or tragic moment. Love rises and falls, and is the greatest rhythm I’ve ever known. I will chase it with my words (and heart) forever.
…“it’ll be this kind of deep blue,” she said. “The kind of color that somehow sucks your eyes and your ears and all your words—the color of a completely closed-in night” ― B. Yoshimoto
This year I wanted to give my eight-year-old and three-year-old some creative options for their school Valentine exchange. Sure, I could have easily gone to the store and bought a few pre-packaged Valentine’s Day greetings and that would prove to be easy enough. But I want my boys to know they have options when it comes to things like gift giving and holiday greetings. We have plenty of art supplies (and recycled materials) here at home so we don’t always have to go to the store to buy pre-themed greetings. We can make (and say) our own!
What we used:
8 1/2 x 11 cardstock
paper cutter or “Exacto” knife and cutting board (for the adult to use to pre-cut shapes and paper)
rubber stamp and ink pad
I kept our DIY creative project easy and we had only minor clean-up and recycling to do after we were done. I don’t know if this project was more about making our Valentine’s Day greetings or more about spending some time together. Maybe a little of both.
When you reach for your keys and unexpectedly find the tiniest of socks in your pocket…
“People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and its ends, but to me it’s quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations, with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spat blues. Murky darknesses. In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them.”—Markus Zusak
What’s for dinner—a first draft, a few lines of metered verse with a side of green cabbage.
Peeled from my grandmother’s kitchen, the south,
pale green slivers scattered beneath a dull
blade. Full in the pot, salt, pepper, and stock
bubbling slow. I poured in piles of soft
feathered middles, raw cabbage to cook two
hours, until the flesh turns golden, seasoned
steaming cloud burst, boiling savory pot.
This morning I woke up to the baby singing his nonsensical, yet somehow beautifully harmonious song in the other room. I turned to look at the clock and could not believe how late we all slept (says one who typically gets up at 5am). We were all beyond sound asleep, humidifiers juggling steam in the air, our bodies warm, wrapped up in thick blankets. To look outside and see the crumbled frost stiff on the sidewalks, no wonder we all slept just a bit longer this morning, it was much too cold to do anything else.
However, the color of calm changes quickly. Once the storm of our morning started stirring, I was impressed at our ability to dress all three little ones and even us big ones, to get out the door in record time. We were off, just a hint later than usual, but very much on time for the weekend. Maybe Fridays were made for sleeping in just long enough to dream ourselves into notions of Saturday and Sunday. How sweet it was that not only did we all get to slightly sleep in, (if you call 7am sleeping in), we still recovered in such swift grace to get out the door with a glorious step closer to more time together on the other end of this day. Enjoy your Friday, just a few “happy hours” until the weekend.
Writing is sometimes like the “housework” piling up in the corner…
When I find a line I want to write, it is the gleaming light from the window, the particles swirling in the gust of air beneath the bed, the dark trappings of dust, balls of gray, a webbed cotton gathering.
Saturday morning I opened our bathroom hamper to find the laundry sea level rising with Legos. Let me guess, I wonder who could have dumped all those Legos in the hamper? This morning the laundry is all done, but in the blur of the weekend, I forgot about the Legos, and obviously so did my boys. This morning, when I opened up the hamper to throw in a towel, guess what I found?
I showed my three-year-old the basket and asked him what was in there. He looked at me with his big brown eyes and smiled, “clothes?” I opened up the lid of the hamper and we both laughed.
Hope you’re having a good morning. Happy Monday.
It’s Sunday already, the weekend goes by so fast doesn’t it? In case you missed it, a variety shuffle from this week’s posts, recapped, revised, and remixed. Enjoy, and have a great day!
I hope you’re enjoying your weekend. Just in case you missed it, highlights (and revisions) from this week’s posts.
—Mary H. Waldrip
I love sound, and consider myself a bit of a purveyor or collector of sound in my writing, teaching, living. But as the chirps and beeps of our lives thicken, George Michelson Foy entertains notions of cultural silence in his book Zero Decibels: The Quest for Absolute Silence. Listen to what he says about his quest in this interview from To the Best of Our Knowledge.
I’m inspired by this idea of “tracking down silence,” and that different cultures around the world have varied notions and practices of sound and silence. What are the sounds of your life? Where do you go for absolute silence? How would you describe that relentless quiet? Is there a space, an environment, a photo that you feel represents absolute silence?
Thanks to a few imaginative kids (who live in my house), everyday ordinary is interesting and inspiring, reminding me as a parent to take note and get out of the way of their learning and creativity. Here’s to a a few laughs, and a new year filled with imagination, smiles, and of course many more days of play!
Click on links below to view posts
To travel (by plane) with a seven-year-old, a three-year-old, and a five-month-old we employed a few suitcases (four to be exact), three car seats, a stroller, a diaper bag, checked bags at the counter and the gate, plenty of snacks, books, tech devices of all shapes and sizes (and the chargers), and a handful of patience and calm…
After that whirlwind experience at Thanksgiving, this Christmas and New Year’s we nest. Happy Holidays!!!