heartbroken and happy

Today one of my closest friends brought her daughter for her driver’s permit.  She passed with flying colors, and my friend wrote to me that she wondered if one could feel heartbroken and happy all at the same time.

Yes, I responded.

Tonight as many nights, I snuggled three kiddos before bed on the couch.  We watched the Spring Baking Championship and I reached out for them to join me, so that I could hold them… but tonight was different.  Try as I could, I couldn’t figure out how to make my lap, legs and arms hold all three of their lengthening, solidifying bodies.  My body creaked under their weight, my bones shifting and muscles flattening.

How did this happen seemingly overnight?  That suddenly the dimensions of me are no longer enough to accommodate the dimensions of them?  Could I remember the last time I could hold them, really hold them, all together?  Was it two nights ago?  Last week?  For something seemingly so trivial, I could feel my heart ache with recognition… yet another last had come and gone… another step forward and away, as they grow and change.

And so I held them in shifts tonight.  His curls no longer wind around my fingers in perfect baby ringlets, but it’s still as soft as it’s always been.  Her hair no longer smells of milk and baby shampoo.  I can smell the sweat of a workout we did together at the gym this afternoon, mixed with the slight scent of Clearasil.  Her fingers are too long to fit perfectly inside my palm, but they rest beautifully entwined with my own.

I know that these days are fleeting, that they won’t always let me cuddle them, that really I’m lucky they’ll still let me now.  I know that someday soon I’ll be bringing them for their driver’s permits.  So, while I can, I’ll hold  them… in shifts… and I’ll feel my heart swell and break, heartbroken and happy, all at the same time.

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Trees

Once upon a time and ending six months ago, our front yard was lined by huge old trees. Ancient relics with twisted, gnarled limbs that disintegrated in the weather, shooting spears of sharp edged branches inches deep into our lawn.

The front yard was deemed a “no play zone”, for fear of passive TBI from falling shrapnel.

The trees blocked more than childhood fun, they also shrouded the sun; our yard comprised of moss and dirt, decaying leaves and two gargantuan rhododendron.

September came, and our town decided the trees should go.  I felt a mix of relief and sadness, happy to lose a potential problem, yet reminiscent for a time that I had no connection to.

One day was all it took, and 4 out of six were gone, reduced to ruts in our lawn, a broken front fence, and pounds of sawdust everywhere.

The last two stood, like elderly soldiers, regal place keepers for the lost.  I think their fate was sealed, for in Autumn they seemed to lose their leaves with increased urgency, and in winter shed their own daggered branches.

Now, they stand withered and exposed, pitiful in their presentation.

Bizarrely, about a week ago we got a notice from the electric company that one should go, given possible impact on the wires.  There was a big blue mark on the front of its bark, and we were thrilled.  We gave permission, but with a request… take them both down, please.   There was no response for several days, until this afternoon.  We came home from work to see they’re both now marked with blue, and again I’m happy and sad.

In the spring, I’ll have a nice clean yard, with grass and flowers and sun.  But I can’t help but wonder who might drive by, and find them gone; sadly remembering that long ago time that I don’t.

An ordinary, extraordinary day

Today I broke the birks out, pulled them from their winter slumber underneath my bed.  There’s still snow on the ground, and patches of ice all around, but there’s also bare ground showing through and the temperature rose above 40.   There’s nothing like March in the Berkshires to bring out the optimist in me…finally, there’s hope for spring!

I had a PD day today to be part of a diversity training session, which I desperately wanted to attend.  As a teacher of second graders in a predominantly white school, I feel like I’m in need of  constantly updating tools to add to my toolkit of how to teach about diversity when there is a lack of (at least outwardly visible) diversity in the room.  The training was phenomenal, and I walked away with many personal insights, A-ha moments, and enduring questions to research on my own.  I love teaching, and I love my days with kiddos, but there is something so special about being in a room full of like-minded educators who want the best for our kids… I left feeling truly energized and motivated to continue the work.

I came home to discover that Maddie’s basketball party had to be rescheduled, and that she was free for the remainder of the evening.  So… I took her to spin class with me!  It’s been a long while since I’ve taken a spin class with my pal D, and it was everything that I remembered it being…encouraging, hilarious, and just a little painful.  This time, I had the added benefit of my girlie on the bike next to me.  After losing five pounds in perspiration alone, I gave D a slippery hug and headed home to finish our dinner of chicken soup with barley, which came out pretty tasty for chicken soup with barley.

Fast forward to tonight, where Rob and I are currently munching on kimchi and beef jerky, respectively…  because Rob “craved something salty” and I am on day 4 of sugar detox (otherwise known as hell).  It’s quiet upstairs, the British Baking Show is on the TV, and aside from occasionally wanting to lick the television screen (it’s the cannoli episode), all is right with our house.  My heart is full, and I am grateful…  and ready to tackle tomorrow.

For the love of God, give me back my hour.

My eyes are so tired I can barely keep them open.  I keep resting them as I’m writing, only to jolt awake to find several lines of kkkkkkkkkkkkk, as apparently my right middle finger doesn’t take breaks.

I’m wearing my glasses because contacts seem like one deployment of energy too many, and I’m still wearing my work clothes because my pajama drawer was hopelessly far away.  I’m absolutely exhausted.

I always have a hard time adjusting to this time change, and this year seems particularly rough.  Maybe it’s due to the same function of aging that gives me my newly fast-growing “glitter-grey” temples, and also required me to acquire multifocal lenses at my most recent eye exam, but I’m not sure.

I’m noticing this difficulty with my children, as well.  Maddie’s been sleeping through her ever-buzzing alarm for a full hour before she gains enough wakefulness to rise out of bed, becoming a cyclone of shower/teeth/clothes/hair all within ten minutes.  Benjamin moans and mutters, then covers his head with a double layer of blankets until I start the inevitable countdown, and Chloe… Chloe, my ball of energetic perpetual motion, fell asleep in the middle of her floor yesterday, clad in half of her clothing, while getting ready for school.

Perhaps as frustrating as the fatigue itself is the fact that Rob seems completely immune to the effects of Daylight Savings Time.    His alarm goes off and he bounds out of bed, launched as if by a catapult.  He does what he needs to do, and there is very little complaint.  Like a spectator at a circus, he watches me frantically pulling on socks and mismatched boots while I struggle to organize my perpetually disorganized life through my newly expanded brain fog.

He smirks to himself.  I have semi-violent thoughts.

‘What must it be like,’  I wonder.

When heartbreak becomes hope

Tonight I sat in the presence of heartbreak and hope ; a quiet witness to pain, an attendant to a growing spark.

Voices spoke of community, and love, disappointment and fear, anger and betrayal.  They were steadfast in their strength, powerful in their sadness.

I felt lost… impotent.  Deep inside I felt the need to say or to DO something…  but in that moment, I just sat and listened.

As I reflect now, maybe that was exactly what I needed to do.  To bear witness.  To listen not just to hear, but to understand.   Maybe in that moment, my voice wasn’t what was needed.

Their voices lit a spark, and now I carry it with me.

Tonight, so many voices spoke of so much pain.   I wish there had been more witnesses there, more ready fuel for the inevitable fire.

 

Things I said “No” to today… and the opposite.

Things I said “no” to:

  1.  An early morning workout.  Because, Daylight Saving’s Time.  Fine…in all truthfulness, because early morning, ever, period.  😴
  2. My birkenstocks, which winked at me from underneath my bed as I got dressed.  “Too soon, friends.  Just a couple more weeks…” 😏
  3.  A surge of guilt as I drove into school Re: lack of workout, again.  😒
  4. One of my second graders, attempting to use the handrail as a slip and slide.🤨
  5. Another one of my second graders, asking to watch the youtube video that goes with an Arianna Grande song she’s dancing to in gym class.  😬
  6. Half of a chocolate glazed donut, which I don’t even like, but which is still a chocolate something. 🍩
  7. Being an obnoxiously loud b-ball mom during my daughters’ games (GO BLUE)💙
  8. A heaping bowl of buttery pasta with cheese, because while it would have made me feel good, it wouldn’t have made me FEEL GOOD.  🍜
  9. Procrastinating until 11:30pm to write my daily “slice of life” blog, hence ensuring that I won’t be one of the last couple bloggers to post at 11:59 tonight. 😁

Things I said “yes” to:

  1. An early morning snuggle with my Chloe, instead of a workout.  💕
  2. My warm and comfy boots, with fuzzy socks to keep my toes warm all day. 👢
  3. A silent drive into work, without music, without Audible, with time to think and breathe.  🔇
  4. A second grader who needed to hear that I knew she could do better, and so did she (And she did!) 👏
  5. A hug for a second grader who needed to know that it’s OK to sometimes have  feelings too big to handle on one’s own. 🤗
  6. Half of a dumb chocolate glazed donut, which I don’t even like, but HELLO?? CHOCOLATE?! 🍩
  7. Cheering for all four teams that played ball tonight, because all of our girls are all of our girls. 🏀
  8. A heaping bowl of spinach and protein, because I know that I need to take care of myself.  🥗
  9. A long, fast paced walk with Rob and Remi, in the sunshine.  🐶
  10. Reading and writing, and thinking and doing, and loving and hoping, and trying.💖

 

Today I was grateful

Today I was grateful for:

*A morning without a hard start time, extra snooze time to linger under blankets

*A strong, hot cup of coffee with half and half and no sweetener, sipped in snuggle pose on the couch with my kiddos

*A couple hours of leisurely grocery shopping with Rob, with only two phone calls from  children being irritated/antagonized by each other

*Empire apples and grapes, without the inch of gross chemical/wax coating like they had last week.

*Liverwurst, spinach, and red meat in my cart after craving them for a week (I may be just a tad iron deficient…)

*Two and a half blissful hours cozied up with friends and their stories of the heart

*Delicious dinner cooked by Rob and eaten at the table together as a family, having not just rushed in from a game or practice

*Freshly laundered and bleached white sheets, cool and crisp and welcoming

*Heat swirling through the living room as my fingers click the keyboard and my pup gently snores next to me…

*Three beautiful and growing kiddos sleeping safely upstairs in this home we’ve made all together