wake up, and work

It is 7:30 am and there is already a pirate island situation in the basement, a scenario in which every blanket and every pillow in the house has been dragged down flights of stairs and piled in a particular spot.

I try not to awfulize the future, to imagine three months of summer in which I spend my days refereeing preadolescent boy arguments and my evenings deconstructing pillow forts.

I have been a mother for eleven years, and it proves hard to remember a time when I was not, when I was the one stealing area rugs from the basement to decorate our cousin clubhouse, pining for my own place full of small people to care for. I understand that motherhood may not be everyone's exhausted cup of tea, but for me, most of the mothering job comes easily. Still, nearly all of it feels like work. And honestly, sometimes I crave applause for something other than remembering to pack everyone’s favorite granola bars.
What do you do? The question is fraught, with its assumptions about the centrality of work.
I don’t know, I stay home? Except I feel like I'm hardly ever here.
I worry. And I write.
Once in awhile I get paid to talk, but most of the time it seems like no one is listening.
I wipe rear ends and I scramble eggs and I fold fitted sheets all day long.
I am not complaining about being buried under a mother’s mundane and demanding tasks. I signed up for this.
I have children, and they have me.
It is 7:30 at night and I begin ushering the boys through the stations of winding down. We have been to the pool and the library, to piano lessons and the grocery store. We unloaded the dishwasher, all of us, a brief symphony of cooperation. We folded towels and painted with watercolors, small miracles each. There were moments of crazy banana pants behavior, and there was time to bake a half birthday cake, because tender encouragement and chocolate go a long way.

Eleven years in and I am still surprised at how the hilariously confounding and the overwhelmingly holy coexist.

The boys are asleep now and I have folded all the blankets, knowing they may be chip-clipped to another chair tomorrow, grateful for the work I will wake up to again.


long weekend

We ushered in summer with watermelon and baseball, graduation parties and parades. 
We cut pants into shorts and made a dent in the garage freezer popsicle stash. We pulled out tank tops and judging by the state of the playroom the boys pulled out every toy we own. We visited the strawberry farm and the air force museum. We checked heads for ticks and made two trips to the pool. Basically we're hoping the rest of summer looks a lot like this long weekend did.


school's out for summer!

No more pencils, no more books
but safe to assume lots of dirty feet the next few months...



the boys require me to stop
right between the thing I almost finished
and the other nineteen things I still need to do
and just in time to see whatever it is I might have missed.


to be heard

He puts his finger to his lips, trying to throw quiet our way. He has a lot of things he'd like to say, and just wants a bit of room to be heard.

Holding the spoon in front of his face, he flips it around and repeats Hanky upside down, now Hanky upside up. Upside down! Upside up!

He sings about spiders and stars, his words still a bit choppy, his voice pleasant but not very "inside."

When he dropped a hexagon magnet his grandmother made for him, he was distraught. 
Broke mine hepagon. Make sad Hanky. Roro make new hepagon, give to Hanky? 
(spoiler alert: she did)

He is always calling the fire department from beneath the dining room table, one hand holding a pretend phone to his ear, the other clenching a red light-up engine. And then making allll the siren noises.

Still a bit of settling in work being done around here, inside and out, blue plastic hammer in hand, he often asks Hey guys, what you working on? Hanky help?!

When something isn't going the way he had hoped, he explains, I’m frustrating

Wait just one minute please, when I'd like him to cooperate getting dressed, but he needs to apply approximately sixty two more boo boo bandaids to various uninjured places on his body.

He counts EVERYthing! Most often his bandaids. But also lots of other things.
He gets number words beyond ten a little confused, and my favorite is his "eleven."
one, two, three... ten, hel-whe-men, twelve, thirteen, hel-whe-menteen

While he sits at the island on a stool next to his brothers, waiting for another meal to be served, he plays rock paper scissors shoot over and over ad nauseum. 
(of note, he throws scissors every time)

Oh mercy, he says, when he needs his diaper changed.

Now your turn!  (to make a lion noise, to play rock paper, to try on binoculars, to sing the ABC song, to jump over the board, to take a sip of tea, to have your diaper changed...)


tea party


morning to night



I am not a perfect mother.
But I am a mother who keeps trying.



everything that slows us down and forces relaxation of routines
like friends who drive hours to stay here, filling the house to the brim and forgiving us for not having our hospitality act together,
setting us back into the slow circle of reminiscing,
sharing their children with ours, adding rings around the friends-who-are-family tree
appreciating the easy long distance connections, and looking forward to the times together that will come


reminding myself that most of the messes point at living

Taste testing brownie batter, excavating coffee beans, building green bean towers, flinging flash cards, upturning seats to make drums, dissecting muffins to find the chocolate chips, eating peanut butter straight from the jar... Whatever it is, we're doing it here, and when I squint I can see that almost all of the activity points at being alive.


two out of three

The little boys are curious about what's happening in the dirt outside, while the bookworm is oblivious.