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the unwritten chapters

2013 February 22
by Rachel Turiel

 

hh - feb

Sometimes raising children feels a little like how I imagine life was for the pioneers of the westward expansion. You know, how they were basically traversing an unknown continent based on anecdotal accounts, feverish dreams, and maps that were more “choose your own adventure” than say, anything you’d actually want to bank on.

And right now, we’re somewhere on the plains, cheerily digging into our 2nd barrel of sauerkraut, not having heard yet about the Donner Party. And, I know we’re going to get from kindergarten to the gold-dusted streams of the Sierras, I’m just not exactly sure how. Somewhere ahead lies the rugged territories of adolescence (shudder) and homeschool algebra, but anything past, well, today, is pretty hazy.

Recently, Dan and I were watching an episode of Parenthood, in which a teenage daughter was so sullenly put out by the very existence of her parents, to whom she even—get this—spoke harshly. And Dan and I looked at each other like, “Rosie in ten years? No way.” But of course the only Rosie we know is the one who creaks open our bedroom door at 6:02 am, crawling under the covers as if reporting for work.

Maybe it’s that imagining your child’s future is like planning for tomorrow’s sunrise when you’re completely dazzled by the sun crashing through the colorful clouds of this morning. I mean, I can barely even imagine next summer, I’m so entrenched in snow boots and windshield ice-scrapers. But when I turn the channel on my fuzzy TV to “grown-up Rosie,” she and her future partner are snuggled on the couch munching chocolate, and Rosie’s leaning over shrieking, “Tickle me! Bite me! Get me! No, don’t get me! No, get meeeeeeeee!”

And Col? Even though he’s already fallen for, and then tossed aside so many passions already: garbage trucks, push brooms, steam trains and heavy machinery (I used to finagle long stroller walks to a construction site with 2-year old Col, until the crew caught on: Lady, you need to have a hard hat to be here), I see him simply as the grown-up version of himself, now. Like, someday he’ll graduate from University of Legos with a degree in experimental engineering, emphasis: vinegar and baking soda explosions. For his graduation present, Dan and I will give him a roll of bendable wire, a case of duct tape and 10 reams of blank paper, with the promise that he can use these 5000 blank pages without anyone nattering on about trees and waste.

And really, isn’t it beautiful that we don’t know the next chapters of our children’s lives? My friend Jennifer is always surprised to see how calm and focused Col can be, because she just can’t shake the memory of toddler Col crashing exuberantly through our playgroup, setting off little earthquakes under other kids’ carefully constructed block towers.

How lucky that even though it contains all the bittersweetness of watching your kids shed yet another skin, we get to follow the unexpected twists and turns of this novel called growing up. And thankfully, unlike the pioneers, there’s no one destination to reach, it’s more about finding the nuggets of gold everyday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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39 Responses leave one →
  1. Kathy permalink
    February 22, 2013

    …finding the nuggets of gold every day… the journey through growing up is something no parent can anticipate. My older daughter, 33 now, is so totally stable, capable, yet has her weaknesses. She still runs with scissors (a joke we like to laugh about, when she received her first pair of scissors as an athletic trainer at 16 and in college). We are closer than I ever thought we would be. I discovered there was hope on the other side of teenage life when she called me one day, can’t remember her age, 22 maybe, and told me, “Mom, you were right.” I had no idea, no presuppositions, and plenty of anticipation, as you do. Nor did I have any idea how my younger daughter’s life would be. I am amazed at her intellect, her personality, her abilities. She is still at home, at almost 28, and we have no plans yet to ask her to move into a group home. She wants to retire with us to Colorado and that is her personal goal. She is focused on that and quite patient (I am not so much). I am so blessed to have these daughters in my life. I can only hope we all will be together for many years to come, sharing our separate lives. Looking back, that old life is hazy, and tomorrow has its worries. Today is so special, as Robin called this morning and gave me advice on marriage, and Sarah will smile and sing and watch TV and be happy alone with herself in her room. As I will, upstairs in my computer corner, writing. I never in my wildest imagination could have seen this picture of today. The nuggets keep coming… and I am so grateful.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    February 22, 2013

    Wonderful post and so true. When you were struggling ( us too) through your teens I could not have pictured the beautiful relAtionship we have now and the deep family ties.
    A grateful Baba

  3. Britta permalink
    February 22, 2013

    Beautiful.

  4. Amy Morrison permalink
    February 22, 2013

    Beautiful. Love your writing…..

  5. Ellie permalink
    February 22, 2013

    So much beauty in this post, I don’t even know how to begin to comment…Thank you for giving us some Friday morning inspiration.

  6. anne permalink
    February 22, 2013

    damn, you are an amazing writer. also, the timing of this could not have been better. Here I was wallowing in self-pity because my newborn (#3) is going to be a month old soon and what if this is the last one (should be, but newborns are so…sigh) and this is the last time I have a baby this small…you know, the crazy things you have time to think about when you aren’t wiping one of three butts or pretending to try to start a sort of healthy dinner when you know it will just be buttered noodles again.

    So thank you for reminding me that I shouldn’t fear the future so much (though homeschool algebra haunts my dreams and we aren’t even technically at preschool yet).

  7. Danny permalink
    February 22, 2013

    Hi! I love you, and dig your writing. Thanks for all the beauty and creativity and insight and reality you add to our journey! XXOO Dan

  8. February 23, 2013

    Love this post, love Dan’s comment too. Fun to imagine your kids as grown up versions of their current selves. Margot will study fairy tale culture discovering the geneaology and evolution of fairies, princesses and mermaids. Ruby will spend her life collecting leotards to the point where she can change bodysuits every seven minutes. She’ll live in a small home with a fireplace, chickens and cats.

    x

  9. Katie permalink
    February 23, 2013

    Love this, Rachel

  10. February 23, 2013

    Rachel, you have this way of capturing what I think, but in much more interesting ways than I could say it.

  11. Jen permalink
    February 23, 2013

    “Tickle me! Bite me! Get me! No, don’t get me! No, get meeeeeeeee!” She’s just like her Mama. :)

  12. February 23, 2013

    “…there’s no destination to reach…” – oh, god. just tattoo it backwards on my forehead as a daily reminder in the mirror, cuz when i *do* remember i breathe so much slower/deeper/easier and see so very, very much more clearly.
    thank you for the reminder. and for the beautiful words capturing so much of what seems to be wordless.
    you are a gem in so many ways -

  13. Jan Turiel permalink
    February 23, 2013

    Just love it!

  14. janie dalton permalink
    February 23, 2013

    I have it in writing, from Jasper and Juliet, that they will still cuddle and love me when they’re 14. Love your words. Love your beautiful life.

  15. Ellen permalink
    February 23, 2013

    When teenage Col and Rosie stay out past their curfew, have wild parties etc. , it will be good to remember the amazing changes that have already occurred and know that there will always be more. And a good thing too.
    Fortunately change is possible and also fortunately we can never predict where it will lead.
    xo

  16. kristi permalink
    February 24, 2013

    so great! i am always equally baffled by how different hazel and june are from each other, and how different they are now from only a year ago. i can only imagine who they will be in ten years.

  17. Tara permalink
    February 24, 2013

    Rachel, this helps me let go and not worry and project out into the future so much about my kids, but rather be open to the “wildness” and adventure of “not knowing” (with a nod to Buddhism) of the uncharted wilderness of three individual futures. Thank you:)

  18. Jonni permalink
    February 24, 2013

    How I love the phrase ‘finding the nuggets of gold everyday.’ If we could teach this to our children, at a young age, how beautiful life would be…thank you for your thoughts

  19. Melanie permalink
    February 24, 2013

    I love being able to view your life through your words. Your thoughts and musings are insightful and enjoyable and your writing just makes all these moments so vivid! You have an amazing gift are we are lucky you are so generous with it! Thank you for your continual inspiration.

  20. Regina W. permalink
    February 24, 2013

    Beautifully written. The photo looks like a painting. Those kids are fortunate to have you as their teacher

  21. Jennifer permalink
    February 24, 2013

    Thanks Rachel for reminding me of the nuggets of gold, I really needed this post today!
    xo

  22. Cedar Fisher permalink
    February 24, 2013

    I loved it vary vary much! I liked it because Col and Rose were in it.
    Love Cedar

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 24, 2013

      Cedar, we all love you “vary vary” much. Please smuggle a few avocados home for us.

  23. Julia Fisher permalink
    February 24, 2013

    Beautiful insights as usual Rachel! I personally alternate between whimsically imagining the just hard enough to build character and compassion, vibrant and safely risky lives my boys will live and FREAKING out at the concept of letting them go some day. Aloha Sister!

  24. Susan permalink
    February 24, 2013

    Thank you–that was lovely!

  25. Chi-An permalink
    February 24, 2013

    Dear one, I am reminded by an exercise my daughter’s kindergarten class does as part of closing circle every day. One child leads the class through STAR: “Smile. Take a deep breath. And Relax.” They do this several times, with the option of adding “Smile with your ears” or “Smile with your toes” or other silliness.

    Your writing reminds me of exactly that. Smile. Take a deep breath. And Relax. Sometimes it makes my ears or toes smile, it always makes my heart smile. XOXO

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 25, 2013

      Why does this comment make me tear up? STAR. Maybe because I want to start my day that way too. Thank you.

  26. February 25, 2013

    Ah, the old B.Eng (Exp) from U Lego. I’ve heard it’s an extremely versatile degree.

  27. Karin permalink
    February 25, 2013

    Love it Rachel, so true. Emmett is working on his degree in Legos with a minor in cards: Kings in the Corners. Adella is learning how to count in Nos… one, two, no, three, four, NO…

  28. February 25, 2013

    Raising my four girls has been the most fun time in my life. I just took my 3rd child college visiting this past weekend. It seems seconds ago she was little running about like your children. I am glad you are enjoying it all, it goes by way too fast….

  29. Ben permalink
    February 25, 2013

    What’s that old quote about maps? The map and the territory are more different than the same (or something like that)? It definitely feels true with parenting books and most advice. It seems so often that the route looks so clear and obvious when we’re reading the map quietly to ourselves with the kids finally asleep. I think I’ve decided on the perfect new chliche to live by! And I’m sure it will get us to school on time without angst! Ha!
    The interesting thing is that there does seem to be a flip side to reading other parents experiences (especially those that are not aimed so much at “how to” authority). Sometimes (and often times on your fabulous blog, Rachel) the words and feelings the you read hit home so much and are soooo true and sincere that they bring this kind of instant grounded feeling despite whatever else may have been happening. And in that space somehow it’s easier, and more fun, and more poignant, and better. So thank for those moments. You did it again!

  30. February 25, 2013

    hehehe i didn’t know col and quinn shared an early love of garbage trucks. oh man, was he in love. he was definitely going to have one when he grew up.

    now he, too, is looking to be headed to the university of legos. maybe they can be roommates!

    laughing hysterically about rose and her future partner. (who could definitely be quinn… he would love to be in constant tickle contact with someone. maybe all three of them can be roommates!)

  31. February 25, 2013

    This struck such a chord. My girl is 11 and from one minute to the next it’s anyone’s guess if she’s that delightful little girl or full of tween angst. Sigh.

  32. Andrea permalink
    February 25, 2013

    Bravo! This is why we all keep coming back to your writing. And I saw you over at ‘Enjoying’ today. Congrats and well done :)

    keep on keeping it real lady!

  33. Emily J permalink
    February 27, 2013

    Oh shoot, you made me cry!

  34. Amy permalink
    February 27, 2013

    I know that you are my new favorite blogger moma and I know we both understand a lengthy stay with a newborn with the”mad scientists” I do love them and some things are not meant for understanding! Amen to grey hair on to another chapter of life… Thanks for sharing!

  35. chris permalink
    February 28, 2013

    Rachel–for graduation, don’t forget rope. Lots and lots of rope. And please never tell Will about the existence of duct tape.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      February 28, 2013

      I especially won’t tell him about the camo duct tape.

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