Friday, July 23, 2010


Did I blink and miss the last several years? How is it that my baby girl, once round and plump and baby-breathed, will be seven in one short day? A mass of sharp edges and muscles, she exists in a divergent plane, so severely different than where she began. I swear I just closed my eyes for a one-Mississippi and now...I am the mother of a four-year-old and an almost-minted-seven-year-old. A mother to showing-rib-cages and complete sentences. To long, lean angular lines.

Every night, I stealthy steal into their bedrooms to plant long, smothering kisses on their cheeks--the too-long kisses they shirk during waking hours. But as I pad into their rooms, I stop abruptly when I see those long, lean masses in their beds. Didn't I just lay a swaddled baby into a crib here? Didn't I just change that diaper and check to make sure no strings or blind pulls were near that crib? Wasn't I just frantically placing light switch covers? And wasn't I just rubbing chubby wrists, padded hands and succulent, rotund thighs?

When did my children stretch and lengthen and become so lean and sinewy? And when did they start to look so old? When did their round bellies give way to sculpted rib cages? Where did their treasured baby fat go?

Today, in the parking lot, Abby walked beside me as I pushed Henry in the cart. (No small feat, by the way, to get Henry in the cart since he's a 41 pound chunk of little man.) I looked down at Abby. But not too far down as she is, in her own words, as tall as my breasts. (She'd better hope she's measuring when I'm wearing my superduper lifting bra which restores me to my pre-breastfeeding glory...if you call a 34B glory, which I do, so there.) Anyway, I asked Abby, as she elegantly walked beside me, how she got to be so old. It was not a rhetorical question. I hoped that she might provide an insight into how we arrived at this point, with her blond curls casually pulled into a hair tie, with her hip, effortless outfit swaying as she walked, head high, scanning the parking lot for cars.

She shrugged and said cheerfully, "I don't know."


Me neither. With each shift, a moving smorgasbord of passing delights and newfound joys entice me. While I say goodbye to the chubbiest wrists, an eloquent metamorphosis greets me. Angular cheeks and long muscles usher in sweet independence and brave, new territories. Eye rolls, yes. But also intelligent questions which track my line of thinking. Lovely conversations. All at once symbolizing the final chapter and the first words of a new phase. The babies are gone. In their place live children. Sitting in open spaces and sprawling those long, lean legs.

That fierce, fire-in-my-belly love morphs, too. Deeper. More...connected. Seriously humbled. Amazed at how little I truly knew when I started this parenthood caper and how much knowledge I have yet to gain. With each passing day, I morph into a more accepting version of myself. I become less sure, but sure that less sure is okay. I learn from these little, or not-so-little, souls--and revel in their gracious ability to teach me.

And the love grows. Abby will be seven tomorrow. Seven. We all grow, apart and together, sometimes merely co-existing. I'm growing, too, while once again, trying not to blink.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Five Fabulous Bloggers

A belated thank you to Courtenay at IASoupMama for sharing The Versatile Blogger award with me! The guidelines for accepting this award require me to (1) thank the person who gave it to me; (2) share seven things about myself; and (3) pass the award on to 5 bloggers whom I've recently discovered and think are fantastic.

So, here goes:
Courtenay, you humbled me with your kind words about my writing. I enjoyed your Piddling at the Pool post--highlights your frank and funny style. Thank you!!

Seven things about me? Well....
1. My hair is really curly--it's like having a built-in barometer on my head. Sweet. (And, for the record, try as I might to embrace my crazy mane, I still want Sienna-Miller-Gwenth-Paltrow-silky-straight-always-predictable hair.)
2. I adore my navy blue minivan, aka My Living Room on Wheels.
3. I still struggle with self-confidence. I find it interesting that I'm trying to instill inherent confidence in my daughter while my own seems to waver and plunge so easily. I guess we teach that which we need to learn.
4. Many days I don't wear my engagement ring.
5. I know I've got a book in of my biggest dreams is to get it out of me and into book stores...
6. Every time I see the ocean, she throws up her arms and we embrace.
7. I have a Life Coach. She is one of the best investments I've ever made in myself.

And now for Five Fabulous Bloggers...
1. Christine at Coffees and Commutes. I adore reading about her journey and exploration of self. Her writing is exquisite.
2. I found Stacey's Is There Any Mommy Out There through a tweet. I read this blog post and it will forever be with me. And once I read that one post, I was hooked.
3. Lindsey at A Design So Vast. Her writing helps me realize that which I, too, need to savor, figure and enjoy. Her words are powerful and motivating. She doesn't like me to say so, but she's one of my idols (in her humble graciousness, she'd prefer me to think of her as a friend. Which, of course, I do).
4. Jen and Sarah at Momalom. These two sisters host this amazing writing extravaganza called Five for Ten. Five for Ten inspired me to write in ways I hadn't yet AND it connected me to some wonderful bloggers. And they can both really, really write. (And they host the !!! Project...which I keep meaning to join...And BTW, Jen and Sarah, I know you're each your own person--sorry for the lump together here...)
5. Launa at Wherever Launa Goes There She Is. I met Launa through Five for Ten. She gently takes my hand and leads me through her thoughts and stories.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sand in My Toes

Yesterday I took the kids to the local lake. I sat, on the beach, and watched them swim, splash and play. (This, by the way, is a privilege seven years in the making. I remember being at the pool when my kids were tots, while Henry tried desperately to pull my bathing suit top down and Abby yelled "watch me, momma, watch me" every ten seconds. I longingly watched the moms of older kids as they sat in lounge chairs, reading or just being. Yesterday, I was them. That was me. For a solid 15 minutes. Ahhhh.)

As Abby and Henry played, I studied them intently. I watched their golden hair submerse in the water. I, now an outsider to their twosome, curiously wondered about their games and ideas. I had that sense that mothers of young kids rarely get to savor...the ability to observe my kids and not be immediately, intimately, physically connected to their actions.

Awash in the fabulous frivolity of their frolicking, it struck me that I got to watch the creation of memories. And I marveled at how easy it is to absorb someone else's "now" because of my ability to see it unfold. And then I chewed on why I didn't include myself in that now just a bit more. Because I was there, just in a slightly different physical space. Not merely a spectator, but an engaged recorder or historian of sorts, perched on my chair, sand in my toes, capturing the memories of my children. Watching the culmination of our years and minutes into now.

Yup. I was there.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Thank you, Mr. Bellows

You know those times in life when something unexpected happens? Or rather, when someone unexpected happens into your life? The summer of 1999, a plain-clothed angel graced my path.

I was single and kicking it up in Chicago. My friends and I decided to escape the city heat and replenish up in Glen Arbor, Michigan. Mr. and Mrs. Bellows, the parents of a friend of mine, graciously opened their doors to us. My bedroom held exquisite views of the lake which sang to me at night. The bedspread (crafted out of t-shirt squares capturing moments from their childrens' camps, universities, fraternities, lives) cradled me in my sleep, surrounding me with softness and memories.

The days yielded a perfect cadence of hot summer sun with undercurrents of cool breeze. Water and sky created a rhapsody of blues--a kaleidoscope of azures, royals and ceruleans. Clear lakes. Perfect evenings--open windows and crisp temperatures. Blazing stars. Burned shoulders cooled during night swims.

After enjoying several days on Glen Lake, I planned to drive to Traverse City to visit another friend. Mr. and Mrs. Bellows graciously loaned me their car. With the open road, a borrowed SUV, a bathing suit and my baseball cap, I headed east. Another sunny, lazy, fabulous day ensued with my dear friend and her family on their heavenly slice of Lake Michigan.

I hopped back into the Bellows' car and headed back to Glen Arbor. I sang. The wide-open windows brought fresh summer air. I glanced down to change the radio station so I could continue my one-woman karaoke show. Two and a half seconds later, when I glanced up, I realized much too late that the pick-up truck ahead of me had stopped moving and lacked the convenience of working brake lights to alert me of its stop.

I slammed the breaks.
I crashed into the pick-up.
Air bag deployed.
SUV totaled.

After pulling myself out of the embrace of the air bag, I checked to see if the other driver was O.K. The SUV's once smooth and gleaming body was now a twisted, crushed mess. I hope I gave thanks for my working legs and continued life. But throughout those motions, this one thought coursed through my mind: "That isn't my car. That isn't my car. Holy shit, that isn't my car."

Someone called an ambulance. I luckily had enough of a reserve to call the Bellows to let them know I'd wrecked their car. (So thoughtful of me, I know. "Hi, remember me, the girl you just met whom you graciously lent your car? Well, I just totaled it.") I don't remember what they said, but it was wonderful and they said they'd meet me at the hospital.

The ambulance arrived. Super-kind EMTs strapped me and my bathing-suit-clad, still-sandy body onto the back board. They thought I was in shock. They were right. (When I smacked into that pick-up, I impacted at about 35 MPH.)

After I arrived at the hospital, the first person I saw was Scott, one of my dear friends. He looked so worried and his eyes radiated sympathy. Love him. Then I slept. When I came-to again, I opened my eyes and stared into the warmest, bluest, most-compassionate eyes I believe I've ever seen. The eyes belonged to Mr. Bellows. (Just a refresher--the car, that I just totaled, also belonged to Mr. Bellows.)

I started crying. Tears pushed down my sunscreened, beachy face. His lovely blue eyes streamed. I tried to apologize, inadequate words tumbling over words, "So so so sorry for wrecking your lovely Ford Explorer, Mr. Bellows." He wouldn't hear it. He kindly, dearly, so tenderly shushed me, his wise blue eyes full of concern. He took my hand in his and a calm enveloped me. I felt like one of his children. I felt safe. And forgiven.

With my hand still in his, Mr. Bellows explained that the only thing that he and Mrs. Bellows wanted was for me to heal (I'd acquired a mild concussion). He told me to rest.

He cared not about his SUV. Nor did he care about the pain-in-the-ass of arranging to have the car towed from the middle of State Route M72 back to Glen Arbor, nor did he fret over the cost of any of these inconveniences. Nope. Not Mr. Bellows. He fixated on the the well-being of a practical stranger. They took me back to their home, wrapped me in that t-shirt comforter and put me to bed. Mrs. Bellows tenderly mother-henned me, checked my eyes and smoothed my brow.

His lovely demeanor wound itself around my heart, opening and warming it. And showed it a path of selflessness, compassion and depth. I fondly remember Mr. Bellows--an angel in disguise. A classic. Emulating class and empathy always. A consummate gentleman whose kindness I will forever remember. Because of his example, I've extended compassion (instead of revengeful anger) in challenging and tough situations. I've remembered what it's like to be the wrecker...and what it's like to receive forgiveness and love.

Thank you, Mr. Bellows. You eased my path and lightened my burden. I've always worried that I didn't adequately let you know just exactly how much your sincerity and grace touched me. Hopefully, now you do.


Is there someone you want to thank for a wonderfully selfless act? Do you always remember them? Has their graciousness changed the way you've treated others?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What She Said

one step / one step / i stop / i take
one breath / one breath / warm sun
above / white snow / below
i breathe / i take / one step / one step

- Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, "Climbing the Ridge"

Saturday, July 3, 2010


I just received a sleepy, long hug from my nephew. He found me at my computer (shocking) and slipped his sleepy, pajama-clad body into my arms. "Aunt D?", he asked through his still bed-heavy voice, "I'm firsty. May I please have some water? With ice?" He could've asked for anything and at that moment, steeped in perfection, I would've gotten it. Anything.


We woke to a splendid, crisp, cool morning. I readied myself to get bagels (REAL bagels) and traded my PJ bottoms for shorts. Hubby said he would come, too. With just a wallet and sunglasses, we left solo (kids safely home with our dear company). We hopped into our open-top 1976 Land Cruiser. Oh the morning that greeted us--just. so. beautiful. Wind took charge of my crazy bed-head hair. Joan Jett (and I) belted I Love Rock 'n Roll. My love sat next to me. We didn't talk. The truck hummed its rustic, loud purr. As we drove, the palpable promise of a holiday weekend stretched and embraced the town.


Last night, we lived on the deck. After the kiddos were snuggled in bed while visions of fireworks danced in their heads, the adults converged. Only two candles illuminated our late-night, adult conversations. That flicker, that dance, that simultaneously innocent and seductive lure of the flame highlighted our tapestry of words. Some of the threads that still weave in my mind:

"My mother went to Julliard...."
"Have you heard Pearl Jam's Just Breathe?" (I hadn't, and laptops were produced and it was played and now I will download to my iPod and play it often.)
"Always remember that you were loved."
"Mom, remember when we were in Vegas...."
"You made me part of your tribe."


And now, I hear: the clicking of my keyboard, another nephew "Da da da da-ing" himself to sleep, threads of new conversations drifting in and out of my consciousness, a morning movie, discussion of the days plans.

A swell in my lungs, riding the crest of the splendor that sits in each of these nows.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy Birthday, America

I'm enjoying the company of dear, dear friends so I'm posting one of my old favorites from last summer. Happy Fourth of July!

Hubby, the kids and I are vacationing at my in-laws lake house. We're here with my mother- and father-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law and their three children. We've entered summer nirvana--pure summer bliss. On the Fourth, we journeyed on the boat to the most spectacular fireworks display I've ever seen.

Through the heavy summer twilight, the kids traipsed onto the dock and climbed into still-wet life jackets. We all piled into Poppy's boat. The clouds and the rain, which had hovered for the last 48 hours, parted. A hot pink and royal blue sunset emerged. Captain Poppy allowed each of the grandkids a turn at the helm as we traveled through the night, scouting the most perfect firework-watching perch.

We found our spot and anchored the boat. Waves kindly lapped the sides. The fireworks began, exploding overhead in a spectacular national birthday celebration. A perfectly orchestrated show ensued, brilliant reds, vibrant blues and gorgeous golds. After Abby patriotically whooped it up with her cousins in the bow of the boat, she sought me out and climbed into my lap. We had a primo spot which allowed us to practically recline into the night. She rested her freshly bathed head next to mine. Her body still. At times we discussed our favorite fireworks but mostly we lay hypnotized by the display and the rhythmic dance of the boat. To date, it is one of my favorite moments with my daughter.

The show ended. Abby left my arms and reolocated to Hubby's lap, drifting to sleep with his strong arms wrapped around her. Henry took advantage of the vacancy at my lap and dove into my arms. He curled up and promptly slept. As we navigated the nautical traffic back to the lake house, I was once again lulled by the scent of a sweet child's head and the heavy weight of a small, solid body. I whispered my love to Abby and Henry in their dreams. The lake whispered, too, and wished everyone a good night's slumber.

Good night, Abby. Good night, Henry.

Good night, lake.

Good night, America.