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the brightening

2016 April 15
by Rachel Turiel


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?” home2

:: We are feeling extremely wealthy in greens and eggs right now, and wondering if I should have greater ambitions than a veggie omelet every morning.home6

:: 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.”home7

:: If Rose ever learns to play piano with both hands, she’ll have to find somewhere else for her rat.

:: Rosie’s babysitting business now officially open. She will accept payment in sparkly things, sweet things, or simply gummy baby smiles.




10 Responses leave one →
  1. Becky permalink
    April 15, 2016

    I love your kids so much-

  2. meagan permalink
    April 15, 2016

    As always, spot on. I’m relieved to know that I’m not the only one whose kids are actively pursuing things beyond the cultivation of a single passion. I catch myself often fretting, and need to remind myself that they’re 11 and 9. And they’re really interesting people. And they’ll be just fine. Thanks for the smiles and the reminder.

  3. Kathy permalink
    April 15, 2016

    You said: 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. Your mom said: free up the worrying mind so you can focus on creative, effective strategies to meet their current needs.
    You are both such wise women. I wish I had had a notion of these thoughts while I was at home with my girls.
    With Sarah, both are still true. She counts on us to help her negotiate through her life. We all grow as we age, so your comments are valuable for all of us, husbands too. My Gary is retiring soon… his creative life will change from work to home.
    We’ll try to catch up with you when we are there visiting this summer (or whenever now), just so we don’t conflict with track and field and poly hockey (Sarah’s Special Olympics) and Gary’s golf season.
    I love your conversation with Col. It doesn’t change much as you get older.
    Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

  4. April 15, 2016

    I agree with Kathy.
    The conversation with Col made me feel so good for some reason. I’m not sure whether it was the part about washing dishes for 5 times a day or his answer. :)

  5. Heather soencer permalink
    April 15, 2016

    Beautiful Rachel!

  6. Sparks permalink
    April 16, 2016

    “(Also possible that I need a new glasses prescription. Do the trees look sort of fuzzy-green to you right now?)” – love it. Thank you.

  7. Rachel permalink
    April 18, 2016

    This is just what I needed to read right now. So much general anxiety about my two little ones, and it’s so nice to be reminded what I could actually be thinking about if I cleared away that worry. Also, any Dan tips for removing antlers from a deer skull? We had a deer die in our yard while on vacation and didn’t discover it for awhile (I’m sure our neighbors were delighted)…the skull’s a little smashed up but we thought we could keep the antlers and aren’t sure of the best way to get them off…

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      April 20, 2016

      Dan says: First skin the brow of the skull (remove the skin and hair of forehead just above eyes) and behind the antlers at the back of the head to create a path for your hacksaw. Then, using a slanted angle start at the brow and cut with a sharp hacksaw just above the eye sockets towards the back of the skull. Start the other side of the V-cut from behind the antlers, attempting to meet cuts significantly below the base of the antlers (where the antlers attach to the skull itself is some of the hardest bone on the plantet – your V cut should take you into the brain cavity). If the cuts don’t meet up precisely you should be able to wrench the antlers away from the skull when saw cuts are nearly complete.

  8. April 20, 2016

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  9. April 25, 2016

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!!!

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