Oh, it’s greening up with such promise here. The trees are in that baby stage, hatchling leaves erupting and surrounding the limbs like a fuzzy green cloud. (Also possible that I need a new glasses prescription. Do the trees look sort of fuzzy-green to you right now?).
The lemon-yellow goldfinches swarm our feeder, becoming more colorful by the day. (I would normally think this was my well-known tendency toward exaggeration, but Dan confirmed that the goldfinches actually become progressively brighter during their breeding season, peaking in May. Exciting illustration here).
Mornings, we all gather at the windows, gasping in delight at the brightening trees and birds, our collective blood pressures dropping, our heartbeats synching up. And then our neighbor’s cat slinks predatorily into the picture and the birds evacuate in an explosion of panicky feathers.
How like my mind this is! So quick to pounce on a lovely scene, claws extended with fear and fretting. I had recently convinced myself that the problem with my children was that at 11 and almost 9 they hadn’t made anything of themselves yet; somehow they weren’t, like, completely passionate about, I don’t know, writing comic books, or kayaking, or chicken husbandry. And somehow, if I had done something different when they were little, everyone would be spending their free time preparing for the quilting bee state championships or at least cheerfully decluttering their rooms. (Rose recently told me, “You know that pile of clothes in front of my dresser? I took care of it! I slid it under my dresser).
And Col actually said to me last night, on the occasion of me washing dishes for the fifth time that day, “You do so much for us, and in return we do so little for you.”
Me: “Would you like to do more?”
Col: (thinking for a nanosecond) “No.”
Of course, the neighbor’s cat eventually gets spooked (could have something to do with us pounding on the window fiercely) and prowls away. And my mind—the fearful, analyzing and judging section— too, scampers off to do something more useful, like entertain the possibility that everything is, in fact, ok.
It’s hard to remove the worry-colored glasses that get affixed to your face about 3 minutes after your children’s conception. Dan told me recently, with concern in his voice, that when he jumps on the trampoline with the kids, Col can only go about five minutes before wanting to fall into a snuggle session with him. “It’s kind of strange,” Dan said, his face pained. “Honey,” I replied gently. I think that’s actually lovely.”
Any parent knows, soon as your newborn squints up at you all cross-eyed and utterly helpless, your heart pounds with fierce devotion followed by maybe the smallest bit of concern about those weird crossed eyes. Which is to say, motherhood is like submerging yourself in an ocean: vast waters of boundless love inextricably and forever salted by your own fears. While baby Jesus was visited shortly after birth by three wise men acknowledging his greatness, the rest of us were visited by nurses whispering of car seat regulations and newborn screening tests.
But I can hear my mom saying, “Love doesn’t have to be so neurotic.” I know. I want to free up my mind to trust that my children are always evolving, adjusting, growing, developing, learning. They are working out hard shit everyday. If I want them to lean into the light, I must at least be one source of that light, beaming trust and belief upon them. This doesn’t mean turning a blind eye towards what needs attention, but practicing discernment so I don’t get swept under the bus of needless worry.
Worry sucks all the joy from your mind, inventing and distorting facts. Worry points to the tiny storm cloud in the distance when right now the sun is shining on your beautiful children sailing ever higher on the trampoline, their laughter sweetening the air.
Signs that we’re truly home: (I think there’s a dreamy part of us still in Indonesia. I have weird grieving spells over the possibility of maybe never eating a ripe, raw jackfruit again. And the kids ask regularly where we’re going next).
:: World class shit shovelers: (And available for hire! Rose says she’ll deliver complimentary chocolate with each bucket of manure).
:: Dan apparently biked out of the woods with this bull elk skull on his back (and another pair of deer antlers). He says his bike needs a small tune up now. Here he is scraping out the molderingly fragrant brains with a chisel and calling out to rotten brain-phobic Rosie, “Hey Rosie, did you check out these brains?”
:: The root cellar apples are rising up slightly bruised and selectively moldy like the ghost of fall preservation, meaning Dan spent last weekend saucing approximately 256 apples. “Does this mean we picked too many apples last fall?” I asked Dan. “Oh no, we just didn’t eat enough.”