the Wilds

We'd never taken the boys to The Wilds, a conservation center located on nearly 10,000 acres of reclaimed mine land in rural southeastern Ohio. We learned about the Federal Reclamation Act and artificial insemination and African painted dogs. And while Tuck may have taught the entire tour group everything he knows about hellbenders, Hank made fast friends with an ostrich.
I appreciated the reminder that not all the wild things live at my house, and the boys are already asking to go back.


Hola, summer!


just right

Ten years ago, Tucker was so small and dream-soaked.
He's much bigger now, but still very dream-soaked. He was lucky to have, at school this year, so many solid caretakers of his aspirations and curiosities.

I notice it happening even more these days -suddenly, at the end of grade four, my son knows way more than I do about something he's discovered all on his own, something real and important and not just comic strips or Mario Kart.

You know, strawberries aren’t actually berries. But bananas are classified as true berries. Scientifically speaking, eggplants and oranges are berries too.

I have learned to stop being surprised. To just be amazed.

Pluto was disqualified as a planet before it ever even made it around the sun.

And I am learning to wonder aloud, What else do you know that I haven't asked?

Well, during the Civil War they used to make coffee out of acorns. You know about necessity and invention. The availability of coffee beans dwindled and the Confederates had to be creative. They tried brewing all sorts of things, asparagus and dandelions and potato peels. They were desperate. And anyway, nobody can soldier without coffee.

Tuck seems to be occupying a notoriously wobbly zone between adolescence and adulthood. Last night we let him have a bit of iced coffee here at home before heading to a late ball game. He rested in the hammock reading library books he'd checked out on his own after school, and then ran bases and cheered for teammates until after 10pm.
He is equal parts initiative and inertia.
He is baby bear in the Goldilocks version of growing boys - just right.


managing the end of May


a thousand little things

I wake up and look around, the sun, three sons, the idea of donuts and a full weekend.

I change sheets and fold towels and boil eggs and butter bread, apply bandaids and pack ice water and launder socks and tell stories. Love is in the little things. A thousand little, little things.

I try to stay connected to their sister in all sorts of small ways too, knowing she is so far gone, knowing I will never stop wishing she were still here. Can love be proven in the letting go?

I get the boys off in opposite directions, to ball practice and a board game gathering and a play date.
Later we attend one of several graduation parties, and I want to say to the mothers who have done the holy work, who have taught their children to smile and say thanks, to pour their own cereal and wash their own sheets, that although I haven't been there yet, my heart has. Sort of. To the place where it swells and breaks at the same time? When children launch away, even the way grown kids are meant to go, the leaving does not feel easy.

What is a mother's work if it is not attaching ourselves to someone through a thousand little, little things, only to let them go?


chocolate for breakfast

He has a way of hanging asterisks on long standing rules.



Tucker played The Great Smoky Mountains, and Tolliver played Come See the Parade.



The big boys had a piano recital on Saturday, both of them playing solid performances of songs they've worked so hard to master. Afterward we enjoyed sunshine and patio sitting and a stroller walk.
Today we had red licorice for breakfast. I painted Hank's nails, purple and green, his request. And we all snuggled together to watch The Parent Trap while it rained, the very definition of time well spent.
I have learned, mostly, that holidays feel best when I do not take for granted what goes right. I try to overlook the harder, normal day, parts - the squabbles and the spills and the insensitivities - and instead acknowledge all the small mercies and sweet moments, scooping each into my heart.
These boys are the reason I breathe. They are also the reason I say bad words and drink bourbon.
But the miracle of their existence will never cease to amaze me.


state of gratitude

Days with the boys feel both profoundly magical and ordinarily common.
Earlier this week we spent part of an afternoon flying kites in the side yard. The boys had post-school root beer floats on the treehouse platform, read joke books aloud from the hammock, shot nerf darts at one another, while I flipped through the pages of a magazine that had come in the mail. We took a walk with Andy when he got home, grabbed dinner on a local patio. I felt acutely aware of how gently time seemed to be passing, savored the sweet mercy of a free evening and few good things lining up. Being their mom is mostly a state of gratitude informed by intimacy with loss. They are very loud and often dirty, and I am so lucky.


amazing light

I tend to see all of my boys in an amazing light.


little brothers