Category Archives: children

it comes and goes

8470_10150340493549959_1292572160_n written on June 9, 2013 🙂

It’s over now; it’s the fabled “day after” and I am left with surges of melancholia and stretches of sadness – the “company” is gone and the occasions are over. It was all very anticipated  – Elizabeth’s graduation from high school { following 28 consecutive years of having one to  five children in school}, a first time visit from Julie, Matt and Drew coming home after being gone 17 months, the end of yet another school year for me , Skip reaching the last year of his fifth decade and me, soon after – it was a lot of stuff, at least for me, me who likes the day to day of life plain and simple and the meaning of life deep and apparent.

 I am creating this entry for me – I suppose this is where I think to go when I am a bit taken over by soppiness, here at the keyboard pecking at the still unknown order of the keys as I reel into a journey of sentimental thoughts and nostalgia. I don’t feel comfortable bothering anyone with my overzealous sentimentality but, then again, there may one of you that gets it, that gets this somewhat disturbing part of motherhood that allows you to remember all of those heart tug moments that take you to these places of tears and longing as you torture yourself with memories of holding tiny hands and rocking them to sleep, so I will write and post; here it is in all of its gooey glory. The bonus for me is that by the time I toil over finding the right keys, I never learned to type, and have thought a million mushy thoughts, I will be “okay” {until next time}.

The drive home from Louis Armstrong Airport yesterday was the beginning of this emotional binge I am currently on. I was very tired, however, and this exhaustion kept those sentimental thoughts at bay all of last night – there was no room for any contemplation of that sort. This morning however, I made the trek upstairs and went into the twin’s empty room and the first thing I saw was a pair of black socks on the floor…years before I would have possibly, but probably not, gone downstairs and said something like, “ You need to pick up your dirty socks  guys”, this morning they were a shrine – a memorial of their brief but wonderful visit, a visit that put them back in their beds, their clothes on the floor, the sounds of the TV seeping through the looseness of the door, and a “Good morning mom” the next day. Funny how those socks, a one-time source of minor irritation, became the catalyst that began this plunge of my heart.

I went outside and went with it – I picked a magnolia and I let its fragrance remind me of the summers we spent here and of the seemingly endless days of their childhood, the muddy boots, the skinned knees, stepping in red ant piles and water hose rescues, the rainbows over the field, and the afternoons that seemed to go on and on. There were a few berries left of the bramble of thorns and dried canes and they reminded me of the cobbler I made for all of them, my visitors, and the many others I made throughout the years. I walked around and I thought of it all and appreciated the gift I had just received, their company. IMG_0198

It seems that while these “things”, these events, are happening you are so overcome with the physical that the emotional trails behind and goes unrealized.  When the last one is gone, when the plane disappears into the clouds or the tail lights turn the bend, the emotional part quickly appears…and there you are feeling like I do now. There is much joy in my heart and I would be ashamed of myself to ever complain – it is not those feelings of sorrow or loss – it is just those feelings you develop with time, with age – this understanding that time is so fleeting and these moments, moments like I have just been granted, are indefinable and precious.

Anyway, I will end my sentimental journey here, at least for now. I have more socks to wash and flowers to pick and most importantly because I, like you, have been gifted with the most wonderful children in the world, I will spend the rest of my day in gratitude and ponder a funny but, sadly, true thought written by Holbrook Jackson: “A mother never realizes that her children are no longer children.”

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knowing my mother

  

painting easter blocks

painting easter blocks

  Sunday morning is here. I have a bit of a “to do” list – a fun one – try out green smoothie recipes and paint a couple of Easter Blocks, but it seems I am drawn here to this page. I think of different things on Sunday than I do during the other days of the week. I suppose my “system” has throttled down a bit by now and I am in this more tranquil zone and I suppose that is exactly why I find myself here writing/posting.

 

I posted a picture of my dad and me from the 50s yesterday. It came from an old family album and this morning I went to put the album away and found another picture, one of my grandmother, my mother and me. I suppose, like many things, I have seen this photo many times, but today it was as though it were the first time. At three – which is how old I was in the picture, you are not really aware of your mother’s life, you are still very narcissistic and your mother is just the person who sees about you, you don’t see her as really having a life; she is just there for you, right? Well, I look at this picture of my mother and realize she was just 25 years old, still so young and so beautiful and I wonder now what was her life like then, what were her dreams, who were her friends, where did she go, what were her and her mother talking about and I bet they were speaking in French?

 

111 beech st., ville platte, la 1957

111 beech st., ville platte, la 1957

 

I only know her in relationship to “me”. I suppose that is the miracle, the beauty of motherhood; mothers are custom made for their children and each child builds that unique relationship with their mother. I have talked to my brother and sister a lot about “our” mother and we each have a “different” mother even though she is one in the same. Anyway, just a narcissistic post I suppose but I felt like asking myself a few questions and then thinking a bit about that day 55 years ago while still trying to know her.

 

On a side note and one of humor, I posted the back of the photograph – it was developed in New Orleans Louisiana in 1597! Oops I think they meant 1957 – gotta love life before digital huh?

1597?

1597?

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windchimes and dreams

And so I did this one important thing yesterday, I planted a Bradford pear in the middle of a field amongst the other hopefuls. I see this as a confirmation that I will be here yet another season to watch it grow and years later to pick the fruit and, in that August  watch the chickens enjoy the overly ripe pears that have fallen from the tree when I have had my fill and have given away and dehydrated until I’m done. I will watch with delight as I let them out of their coop and they run and waddle to the space beneath the tree where they are so satisfied and happy. They will pay me again with the eggs they lay, the eggs that have become part of the tree that is part of the ground that is part of the Bradford Pear I planted today!
a water break
 

 

           It is Sunday morning now and my sleep was crowded with images and dreams. I woke to the clinking of wind chimes right outside of my window instead of the harshness of the alarm, but even with this lovely awakening, I feel somewhat downhearted from my dreams. They were not bad dreams but they were imaginings of my life – mostly of me and Elizabeth.
 
 
 
 
She was little, something I always thought she would be and we were here in the middle of a summer day or a week end and I said, “let’s ride over to …”and we got in the car, she with her pigtails and missing front teeth and me with my youth and a day to enjoy and we went on an adventure. On the way, I held her tiny hand as I drove – something I always did and we listened to the Beatles, something we always did, and we did “something”. I didn’t recall what we did in my dream, for that was not the importance, the importance was that we “did”, that she has been my little friend, my little companion for 18 years and soon she will be someone I rarely see.
It is not nearly June, not nearly graduation and my heart is already tender. These children, these changes – they take your heart, they make you grow, and then they become these wonderful people that find their own lives – just as they should, just as we want. But, I think every mother reading this knows they all still have little hands to hold.
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questions answered…maybe

I wanted to post something today and I began a story about an owl I saw this evening but no “story” emerged, just a snapshot appeared. I write:

 I went for a short walk today, late in the afternoon but before evening. I walked across the field towards the little coulee that separates my space from a neighborhood and watched for the moon. I did not see it, this winter moon in its waning phase for the sky was cloudy and filtered its light, but as I stood there I heard a whoosh sound cutting the stillness. I looked up to see an owl in flight. It landed near where I stood in a tree – perched there and magnificent. I felt I didn’t belong there, this was his space, it is a place he had come to many times before when there were no people, no houses and concrete. He now seemed out of place and that made me sad.  Later, as I was writing, I heard him outside of my window. By then it was nighttime and he was hooting. There is something mysterious about that sound. It seems foreboding and ominous.

That’s it, that’s as far as I got. I distracted myself from the owl and began rummaging around in my folders and I came across something I wrote last summer – I may have already posted it but, that’s okay, I post again because now, unlike then, I can answer some of the questions. I suppose if we just allow our lives to progress as they should, we can find answers, but that’s not what we typically do, we force things to happen – patience is a virtue. Anyway, here it is, perhaps, again.

 

 
summer 2012
I couldn’t sleep past 5 am this morning even though my bedtime last night approached midnight. It’s good though, I have wanted to see the summer sunrise and hear the silence in my house and I did this morning. There is something special about the beginning of a day – the feeling of aloneness, a place to connect with yourself before the rattle of the day distracts you and you become the chameleon once again. I can see myself more clearly  and I can admit my fears and flaws  and I can get to know me a bit better here in the very early morning when the world is somewhere in the distant and I am “alone” in it. I set goals for myself in the quietness of this morning, simple things like starting a canvas I have already created in my head and packing away the childhood memories in Matt and Drew’s room and then more difficult things like completing  the unending book I began nearly a decade ago, a memoir about Miss Sue and another goal to untie a few more apron strings, to “let go” , to redefine my role as mom and view it more as a sideline “job” while , all the while, wearing my heart on the outside– this is tough after so many intense years of being in the middle of things but it’s rather restful also – less doing and more enjoying. This post is going nowhere…

 
 It’s nearly noon now and I have some reoccurring thought in my head. It’s about change, lifestyle change. I can’t maintain the appetite of my youth – I have to let a few things go before I get weighted down with age and upkeep. I think I will begin with the garden. I have been gardening in one capacity or another since I was 15; Miss Sue taught and inspired me then. I have, by early June, semi abandoned mine and as I look at it I realize it is like a child and needs a lot of attention if it is to blossom and reach its potential. As I look within myself I realize I am not willing to give it the time it needs, at least not now. I have discovered this wonderful place to give me compensation, however, the local Farmer’s Market. I will limit my garden next spring to a square root box containing tomatoes bell peppers and eggplant and maybe cucumbers. Done.

 
 

I am still debating about my chickens at this point. I really do enjoy the fresh eggs and do not trust anything in the supermarket so perhaps I will scale down my flock from 18 to just 4. This will have to take its natural course of course, for I do not cull chickens. From this bucolic scale down I propose and post, I hope to unveil time – time to paint, write, and leave, just for small excursions probably to visit my nomadic kids.

Then there is the question of this house – this huge great old house where I raised my family – what do I do? What do we do – us who have rooted ourselves in memories and a place and now want more flexible time and less domestic work; it seems a choice between sentiment and pragmatism – who wins? It’s a great place to accommodate my large family but nearly each day of the year, after Elizabeth leaves, it will be an oversized space for just two people. I do not want to be its slave nor do I want it to be my money pit – I can think of so many other places to throw money, places that make a contribution to someone. I am not prepared to answer this nagging question just now, I think more needs to unravel before I know the answer. I will just pay mind to the contents at this point and try to lighten the interior load and perhaps one day soon, I will know what to do with the rest.

 
Ok.There you have a fair portion of a summer day’s rambling – questions posed, few answered. Exhausting, but it does help to write it down.
 
 
 
 

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the little things

It is the first day of December now. I am just a bit curious as to why the months fly like days. I ask myself if I am too busy. Maybe. But there is nothing to take away, everything I do must be done so I suppose I need to not worry about the hasty passage of time and just enjoy the quick views I get and be grateful that I have purpose; soon enough I may find myself with time on my hands and I wonder what I will do to fill those long sought after slots of day – something I have thought of throughout all of these days of raising children. Who will I be then?

 Life shifts and transforms – each experience carries you to another level – hopefully a higher one. I am so much richer now as a person and an artist for experiencing all that I have and for most of this richness, I thank my children, for they have taught me more than they know; I hope I have much more ahead to learn. Anyway, I go forward with this gift of today and hope that by its end I will have answered the questions I ask, helped those I could help, and enjoyed the moments I have.

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.

Robert Brault

 

 

 

postscript:

I looked back on my weblog, back to 3 Decembers ago and found this post – and I am reposting a small part of it. It is something I think powerful to read again at the threshold of this season of contrast – this season that “celebrates” spirituality with materialism and consumption.

 

Christmas gift suggestions:

To your enemy, forgiveness.

To an opponent, tolerance.

To a friend, your heart.

To a customer, service.

To all, charity.

To every child, a good example.

To yourself, respect.

OREN ARNOLD
 

 

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"How did that happen?"

Life is very different for me now. I wake up on a Saturday morning and I am not scrambling a dozen eggs and juicing OJ; I am making coffee and writing. They are gone, far away gone, from Colorado to the Cresent City. Elizabeth is still here, finishing up the last hoorah but on this Saturday morning she is in Lafayette taking SAT – something she needs to move her on. “On”, will be far away too, it seems. Next year, they really will be all gone. Hmmmm. It is a strange, but good, feeling, kind of mellow.
 The first thing I ask myself on this morning of semi isolation is “How did I do that?” I cannot conceive of waking up to five kids every morning and getting this house in motion. It seems my instinct of survival has blocked that from my memory – too much to absorb, too much to think about? Funny about life, we go through passages almost blindly, doing what we need to do without question and then later, look back and say just what I have said, “ How did I get through that?’ I am not making this declaration in a negative light, it was great, it was magical, it was fulfilling; I just don’t know how I managed to see about all of those people.I’m really not a multi tasker kind of person – I am very, very laid back. I do remember cooking – alot. I also remember the seemingly endless pile of clothes in the laundry room.Honestly, I thought I would live my entire life in that room – forever!  And I do remember the conscious decision to put away my paintbox for those years. I realized early on that that would cause me frustration – to begin a piece and have to go deep into the night to finish it – not worth it. Instead, I think those years and my children gave me inspiration and I think they will manifest themselves in my art – it was the right decision for me.

Anyway, it is early November and I have the day to do as I please – this is a very new deal for me. I am going to enjoy this little piece of freedom for sure but I will always miss my busy home when they all were here and my day was filled with the most important activity of all, being “mom”.

I think of a quote by Jackie Kennedy and hope that I somewhat hit the target, but more than that, I hope they all know I tried my best on that one chance I got ,  just as all of you are…

” If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.”
just a favorite pic taken on the 100 year old carousel at City Park in New Orleans  – a month before Elizabeth lost her grandmother, my wonderful mom. She was there on the little bench watching Elizabeth go around and around, each time waving as though the first time – this was a very difficult passage for me as “mom”…still is

 

So, whatever your stage in life is, I hope you are trying your best – no one is perfect, but everyone can be the best “them” (most of the time :)).
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life marches on

It was a very early rise this Saturday morning in September – my daughter has ACT and she and her best friend were up and stirring before 6. That was a good thing, however (not ACT, yuk to that rigid one dimensional humbug) getting up early on a Saturday morning. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with those few minutes before sunrise – sit outside with coffee. It was so connecting; I felt part of the whole as I listened to daybreak and contributed my small sounds to it. Mostly, it was the birds that I heard – I suppose I never realized how many different sounds they make – how individual they all are – I don’t think nature intended us to all be alike either – this blending concept that is all so politically correct these days and these generic looking people in advertising (you know what I’m talking about – those people that could be of any ethnicity – a marketing tactic to reach as many “victims” as possible), for me is unnatural. Being equal and being the same are two entirely different concepts. I think society does a great job trying to make us all look the same but it falters dramatically on making us all equal – the cookie cutter looks are just ways to distract from the harsh reality of inequality. I love the differences we all have – I would never want to paint a picture with just a tube of blue.

 
 
 
Anyway, the morning was transcending. I suppose I will soon have much time to re acquaint myself with the sunrise and the sounds of the earth waking up – for like the birds, my nest will soon be empty too. That’s a bundle of mixed emotions there. As we always say, where did the time go? I am happy about the lives my sons are carving out for themselves – they are independent lives – they have gone away and found their way, their own way. Hopefully, my daughter will be able to do the same. It is what we want as parents, right? What an internal conflict we feel – we try to raise them to be independent of us  and when they finally are, we are happy but we also feel this …whatever “this” is.I suppose without really knowing, we begin from the very first day of their lives teaching them to be independent of us. Well, after about 20 or so years of that, they, hopefully, are – it’s what we wanted, it was our job.
 

 

 
 
It seems I am doing a bit of rambling here – sorry. I hope, as always, there is something within this post that finds a place in your situation. This motherhood/parenthood topic is something paramount for me and I have a feeling it is important to most of my readers also. Our children are our lives and they are our gauges that read the happiness or sadness in our hearts. There have been times, one recently, when one of their worlds was upside down and it consumed me, it paralyzed me until they were straight again. It’s what we do; it’s who we are. I told a friend recently that I feel as though mothers are like human size filters – everything flows through us as we try to make the lives of our children the best they can be and these heartfelt efforts take their toll and leave the impurities there with us so that our kids can move on.

 

 I refer to my mom many times and I think of her always. She is there in those early mornings when I sit quietly by myself and I can still draw from her wisdom. She once told me – I suppose it was when one of my children had reached a milestone ( like going to pre – k J ) that she was never sad about the “closing door”, instead she looked forward to the next thing we would do. I remind myself of that often and aspire to be so positive towards this natural and inevitable evolution of life.
 

 

 I end with a public expression of gratitude and humility for the experiences life has given me thus far and I do not take one moment, one gift, for granted as I look ahead with the anticipation of the next chapter and I wish this appreciation and courage for you also. Thanks mom.
 
 

 

 
 
Let go
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Chapters

Here I am in Boulder, at the threshold of another chapter of my life; this one is going to be about adult children finding their way, a way without their parent’s “participation”. I could title it “I Got That Mom”. It’s good, it’s what I set out to do, raise them to be independent and to be courageous and creative enough to follow dreams, but it’s poignant; it’s hard to say goodbye to a role I cherished for 31 years.

The most arresting certainty that things in my life had changed happened at a very unlikely place; it occurred at a rest stop in the middle of the wheat fields of Kansas. My husband and I had been traveling for hours on Hwy. 70 and it was time to stretch our middle aged legs after miles and miles of “amber fields of grain”. We finally came upon an abbreviated sort of rest stop and pulled in. Right there at that moment I realized something was over – it hit me in the heart when I saw only my husband up ahead on the sidewalk – the kids weren’t there anymore but like a figment, I could so easily see the four boys with ball caps and abounding energy and Elizabeth garbed totally in pink with sunglasses and sandals trailing behind or holding one of her brother’s hand. It was there in my mind so vivid and clear and it was difficult admitting that “we will never pass that way again.” That wonderful part of my life as “mom” is over; the kids are gone.

 I am happy about where all of them have gone and I am certainly enjoying the ease of travel but it amazes me how momentary times of your life are – they leave your reach so quickly it seems. Anyway, I am here in Boulder with the twins and they are having a wonderful experience and are writing the chapters of their own lives. I am now more of an onlooker and I think that in time, I will grow to love this more passive part I now have. I hope I have done my best and I look forward to reading each new chapter they write.

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Rocky Mountain High

This entry is more just a “letter to self”, a place to document a slice of my life. You are, of course, welcome to read it, as always, but please do not take it as a collection of narcissistic verbiage – it is not, it is just a little plateau of a moment for me that I want to write and remember, one we have all had at one point and another.  It’s nothing really big or notable in the scope of the world but for me and just for me, it is epic, it’s a moment of joy. I am going to Boulder early Friday morning to see Matt and Drew, whom I have not seen since the early morning hours of January 7 when they pulled out of here in a loaded down Ford pickup truck with a U-Haul trailer hitched to their bumper and  23 years of anticipation ready to burst open. It was a bitter sweet moment I suppose, mostly sweet however, they had never really left before but somehow, I felt right about this journey. Anyway, I am going to Boulder to see them and as an added benefit – the thing I want to document – I am going on 420 (just as a spectator but what a spectacle it might be!) and on Earth Day!! I am so very excited about being in a place like Boulder, Colorado for Earth Day – a place that helped to write the book on environmental awareness. Escoffier, their school, is on board with this commemoration and hosting an open house with platefuls of local sustainable food, a mind full of awareness, and a gathering of people who “walk the walk”. I am looking forward to being in their company and hopefully growing from this experience. Tomorrow morning at this exact time, I will be taking off from Louis Armstrong in New Orleans and on my way to a place I imagine I will not want to leave – a place that holds nature and her gifts in reverence and, most importantly, a place that has enriched the lives of my twins. I am nervous on all levels, nervous to fly alone,( hey, nervous that I even get myself on the plane), nervous that my realization will not match my anticipation, and nervous that I can say good bye again. A journey is before me and I am trying to adjust my thoughts and my being so that I can take from it all that was meant to be. As I said, this is not epic seeming for most of you, but for me, it is and I welcome the challenge and I open my mind to absorb all that is there. Mostly, I hope to meet up with two young men that are “following their bliss”. I’ll let you know…

just cute

evening meal

creativity

saturday morning hikes (Drew and friend)
happy (Drew)

Matt

If you enjoy reading about “foodie” stuff and want to familiarize yourself with someone who has jumped into life with both feet and is truly “following her bliss”, check out this blog:

Be sure to read the “about” so you can fully appreciate this leap of faith Deb took…inspiring stuff.
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Moving on

Sitting here, taking a small break from the garden, looking at the cobweb under one of the chairs in my keeping room. I see this, not as you might think, but as a testament to not having little ones anymore. It seems just a short time ago, I routinely moved this 9 foot harvest table across the room, stacked the chairs on it and scrubbed the floor underneath and while the chairs were upside down, I wiped away the dust and whatever else might have been hanging there. I did this because some tiny person would most assuredly be crawling through this wooden maze of legs in search of a missing Cheerio or renegade grape. Who would have thought those days would have ever ended?

 I, of course, still sweep this floor but I must confess, it is without much concern, nothing is dropped and nothing is squished and nothing rolls under here anymore. It has become the perfect place for a little cobweb to manifest. I suppose that is how life is, we use a space, we interact with certain people, we spend that time “there” and then we move on. And when we do, there is something or someone, waiting to take that spot.
We move on, we let go. Again, I reference my mother – she would comfort me in those “big” moments, the moments when my children started school, figured out the tooth fairy fable, and left home – she shared with me how she always looked ahead to the next chapter of our lives with excitement and anticipation. I draw from that optimism as I sit in the mottled rays of the setting sun that are shining through the keeping room window and  “artistically” capturing the natural miracle that is a cobweb .

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