the good things are the subtle things

After the 83rd day of January and the apparent beginning of mud season, the yoga instructor repeated that phrase a few times yesterday. The good things are the subtle things.

Like two extra minutes of sun every day.
Like requests for more broccoli at dinner and then for "those leftovers" at breakfast
homemade necklaces and unicorn drawings from preschoolers
lego motors that move cars, chocolate with pop rocks, rubiks cube lessons online
and a small pickle jar of sourdough starter left on the porch
Like the sound of tiny nanodrone blades whirring from the basement, magnet beads snapping together and floor puzzles to step around
an overnight with the girls who helped me become a good teacher and who walked me into new motherhood
Like fresh stromboli from next door, ready to be popped into the oven after the busy evening run arounds
Like three deep breaths.

The good things are the subtle things.


an entire snow weekend


keep going

Our calendar is at once full and fairly flexible. What we all seem to need more than fancy resolutions are steady rhythms and freedom to rest. It's been a long, slow weekend and the boys have been workshopping a piano duet. At some point I hear Hank announce that he has a world class idea as the younger boys resume a domino trail under the art table. They celebrate when all the rectangles topple and bump a peanut butter lid which rolls to trigger the next reaction. 
Andy simmered bone broth overnight for chili and spent one afternoon assembling an air cannon with the science olympiad team. Tucker slept in and built a new Lego set and memorized lines for the musical.
It all sounds lovely, looks picturesque, the coziest winter weekend. There is so much happiness here.

I am not a new mom of a dead daughter anymore. I am a mom of thriving boys. Life is far from altogether terrible.

While I sipped coffee after an early morning hot yoga session with my sister, Tolliver stood nearby whipping Hank with his cat's cradle cord. Hank, huddled in child's pose and clearly giggling, the hood of his thick wearable blanket pulled up muffling his voice: Keep going, the hurting part is not getting in.

Later I wiped red residue from the wall behind the stove and washed an enormous pile of pots and pans, the kind of work that makes me feel like I exist. As soon as I sat down I was forced to investigate a curious stain on the throw blanket. It looked like someone had used it to clean up hot chocolate? I tend mostly to the mundane and sometimes to the sacred, and wonder if that's a defining feature of the job responsibility.

For a few days I've had a hovering unsettled feeling, perhaps the sole provenance of mothers who wish for a hug from daughters who can't even raise their arms.

This afternoon, one child swept into the mudroom with rollerblades on his feet and his chest puffed out, not quite an air of superiority but definitely some kind of gale-force wind, to announce that there was dangerous activity happening in the driveway. I do try to parent in ways that facilitate confidence but found myself hollering out the front door an immediate helmet decree for the downhill gorilla cart ice event.

I'm not really sure what kind of anecdata I'm trying to leave here, or for whom, but it feels like some sort of love story, even if it's not the kind I thought it might be, even when the hurting gets in.

The short, dark days of winter are my least favorite, for a myriad of very valid and tender reasons. Yet I still, sometimes, shrug and raise my hands, wondering what to do with so much. 

So Much Happiness
Naomi Shihab Nye 

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness. 
With sadness there is something to rub against, 
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth. 
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up, 
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change. 

But happiness floats. 
It doesn’t need you to hold it down. 
It doesn’t need anything. 
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing, 
and disappears when it wants to. 
You are happy either way. 
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house 
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust 
cannot make you unhappy. 
Everything has a life of its own, 
it too could wake up filled with possibilities 
of coffee cake and ripe peaches, 
and love even the floor which needs to be swept, 
the soiled linens and scratched records . . . 

Since there is no place large enough 
to contain so much happiness, 
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you 
into everything you touch. You are not responsible. 
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit 
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it, 
and in that way, be known.


to all the joy

I don't really like the idea of needing a holiday in order to change my life. I don't really like the idea of changing my life. Here we are, all five of us together at the threshold of the year that it will be.
And while declaring an intention is not horrible, I don't want to set myself up to fail. Plus I deplore the implication that who I am right now is not enough. We are enough.
In January, one goal might be to stay attuned to all the joy.