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same as it ever was

2016 June 1
by Rachel Turiel

It’s Saturday morning and Dan and I are drinking coffee and playing Scrabble while the kids are on the couch, reading. When I ask them to please wash their breakfast dishes, they shuffle to the sink, minds sealed off against the interloping world, lasered onto their respective books. (Col recently came out of the fog of reading to ask, “is it raining?” Meanwhile, our house had been carried off down the street in a 3-day deluge).

It’s like a fantasy novel I might have written five years ago, “Angels visited the house and the children began reading and washing dishes.” Dan no longer needs to sing his version of Twisted Sister’s,“We’re not gonna take it” when confronted with the rising tide of dishes in the sink. (Although, he still does, out of habit. And, to be perfectly honest, dish-washing is an emerging skill. I say this to you warningly, lest you’re at our house eating off a mangy plate).

Later, the kids are roused off the couch to watch YouTube videos with me. They introduce me to Taylor Swift (catchy!) and I introduce them to the decades of music they’ve missed. We play Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime and the kids are fascinated with David Byrne, the antithesis of their flashy, dancing, sculpted young ladies.

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful
wife. And you may ask yourself-Well…How did I get here?

Last month I taught my last class for Col’s homeschool co-op. This group of four children who five years ago named themselves “The Fertile Ground Life Learners,” and decided that way in the future when they were like fourteen they’d be hitting the road together and…what exactly was their plan? Riding bikes to Utah to protest climate change? Hitchhiking around the country and serving Swedish pancakes baked in a solar oven?

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Fertile Ground Life Learners, first class 2011

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Fertile Ground Life Learners, last class 2016

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground

We’ve had so many endings already. It’s like the theme song of childhood, the soundtrack that plays predictably as you weep over old board books and the creepy baby teeth staring at you from a small dish on your bookshelf. (No joke. Why am I saving these?)

Parenthood is like going through your file cabinets every few years and realizing that half the documents are irrelevant. Wait – when did they stop needing the bedtime lullaby?

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/in the silent water
Under the rocks and stones/there is water underground.

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lifetime2

Teeter-tottering

These children are the daily reminder that everything is in flux, that signing on the dotted line of parenthood is like entering the Get With the Warp Speed Program of Impermanence. The fine print reads: be prepared to accommodate the next stage, details unknown, but coming your way soon. Start the deep breathing practice now.

Rose and I watched a series of videos from her and Col’s early childhood recently. So much singing! So much nudity! And hints of who they’d someday become. In one video, Rose and Col are dancing in ten pounds of jewelry and nothing else, twirling umbrellas over their head. Rose, age 4, stops dancing, grabs her older brother’s sagging, half-open umbrella and with a quick wrist-flick extends it fully and hands it back to him. Col is obviously, joyfully anchored in the present moment, while Rose’s radar is trained on every particle of her surroundings. Still true.

Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…

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Yesterday, Rose decided to help me in the garden. It was a like she had just done a few lines of cocaine while simultaneously discovering we had a garden out back. “I looooove planting – lets plant flowers everywhere!” She shouted, dragging the hose manically through the garden, accidentally strangling tiny kale upstarts. “Time for tomatoes!” she proclaimed, popping in a row of tomatoes in the time it takes me to put on my gardening gloves (about which Rose said I needed a new pair. Mine were dirty.) “It’s so great to have your help,” I told her as I did my deep breathing, reminding myself that this was the day I had been waiting for, even if it looked slightly different than I had imagined.

And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right?…Am I wrong?

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Rose, age 2 under the blooming crabapple.

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Rose, age nine, under same blooming crabapples.

Meanwhile, Col was upstairs, inhaling words, currently magnetized to the Percy Jackson books. Col has recently started devouring books. Like, getting so completely engrossed in novels that he finishes them in two days and gives us the “just a minute” finger when we interrupt his reading, unable to actually lift his eyes from the page. I’ve been coming home from the library with new books for him weekly, feeling a little like a pusher, a dealer, trying to get him hooked on the next series. It’s so exciting! And yet, it’s interfering with everything.

Everything changes. I feel the truth of these words like a limb I can’t remove from my body. Things are lost, things are gained. Col and Rose no longer need the nighttime lullaby, because bedtime is no longer bedtime: when I flip off their bedroom light, the headlamps go on, the reading just commencing. What becomes obsolete clears space for what’s next. I’m like one of those Russian nesting dolls: if you remove the outside, nostalgically wistful shell of me, the next layer is like, “Go on you amazing children! What’s next?” Like a tree, these children have their own growth rings, each ripe, rich stage contained in their own archives as the next one pushes forward. There is nothing to do but stay awake, ready to celebrate the next transformation.

Into the blue again/in the silent water
Under the rocks and stones/there is water underground.

Time isn’t holding us 
Time isn’t after us 

Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…

Related posts:

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The rat days of June
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15 Responses leave one →
  1. alanya permalink
    June 1, 2016

    Indeed.

    You captured it.

  2. Natalie Christensen permalink
    June 1, 2016

    I want to both whoop and cry.
    This can’t be true and it’s also absolutely true.
    Makes my heart race!

  3. gretchen permalink
    June 1, 2016

    thanks for reminding that this is the best ride ever. holding on, letting go.

  4. Aunt Jan permalink
    June 1, 2016

    This is just beautiful. If someone had wandered into my house and asked me anything at all I would have raised a finger and been unable to lift my eyes from the screen! I didn’t think it was possible for your writing to get better but I was wrong! ❤️

  5. June 1, 2016

    Fantastic piece! Loved every evocative word and phrase. And just guess what tune is blaring through my speakers now? :-)

  6. Andrea Lecos permalink
    June 1, 2016

    Once again, love love love. Breathe in feeling exhilarated, joyful, wistful with every word…. You have created such a beautiful, magical world for your children.

  7. June 1, 2016

    Hi Rachel, just wanted to say hi… I can’t remember what link first led me to your blog but it was many months ago now and I think I must have read almost every post since. Your accounts of your family and life always touch and inspire me, and quite often brings a tear to my eye as well as a smile to my face (as this post today did). Sometimes you manage to put your finger on things I don’t quite know how to express, so THANK YOU! Sending you good vibes from London, a very different corner of the world x
    p.s And yes, I am also now listening to Talking Heads for the first time in a long time and planning to get my kids on it!

  8. Ellen permalink
    June 1, 2016

    Sweet, nostalgic, and beautifully written post!

  9. June 1, 2016

    Same as it ever was

    Same as it ever Is…

    awes(om)e work on this piece! LOVED IT! LOVE YOUR CLAN!

  10. Andree permalink
    June 1, 2016

    So beautiful. As always, your writing is beautiful and witty.

  11. Andrea permalink
    June 1, 2016

    Reading this made my day

  12. June 1, 2016

    Beautiful and oh soooo timely! Just this past weekend Dewa announced to me that she was not going to be ordering off of the children’s menu anymore and today how “over” she is of “not so hot hot chocolate” from Durango Joes. Her voice echoing the words, “Mom, i am older than you think i am.” Your blog an empathetic honoring of the passage of time and the inevitable changes… even if i am not quite ready to let go… XO

  13. June 2, 2016

    “Get With the Warp Speed Program of Impermanence” indeed! And those creepy baby teeth in a bowl–me too! I wrote about this weird behavior here: http://muthamagazine.com/2014/05/andrea-lanis-memento-mori-on-collecting-baby-teeth/

  14. Justine Tan permalink
    June 2, 2016

    “Things are lost, things are gained.” I feel this more and more with each passing day as I mourn the passing of babyhood and marvel at the little women my girls are turning into.

    It’s wonderful to read your words as always, Rachel. I hope you guys have a wonderful summer!

  15. Clarissa Thompson permalink
    June 5, 2016

    “My building has every convenience, it’s gonna make life easy for me…”

    “Loved ones, loved ones visit the building,
    take the highway, park and come up and see me
    I’ll be working, working but if you come visit
    I’ll put down what I’m doing, my friends are important”

    Always trying to weave a little Talking Heads into the fabric of my kids’ musical lives….

    (and, embarrassed, but willing to admit, there’s both a tooth or two, and a few bits of cut hair, in my underwear drawer (in a ziploc bag, of course…))

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