Monday, August 30, 2010

First Day, Rube.

Dear Ruby,


You take me to the center of the earth and back again. My chest rises and falls with life's rhythm and I can see you, dancing with your heart pumping, illustrating mermaid booklets, brushing your teeth with your skinny spare arm pumping like a chicken wing.

You were incredibly excited and confident and 100% ready. I made it about a half hour after drop off before I lost it. Ruby, with your heart open like a barn door, off to school on your first day.

I checked in on you tonight. You had just fallen asleep. You had taken your pajamas off and were double-wrapped in your comforter, stripped down to your underwear, sweating thickly. Your hair stuck to your neck. I straightened you out and gave your pores some space to breathe.

I came here and sat down and saw these photos and cried. A mama has never loved a daughter like you. You are a surprise, a shock, some unexpected cash found in my pocket.

I can't stop this filmstrip flashing through my head of times to come when you'll be away for a lot longer. But for now, I'll relax. It's only kindergarten.

Be true.

xoxoxoxoxo times a thousand.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Photos

Ragamuffins unite.
Kayla is our little cousin who blends right in.

This is the last day before school starts for our most precious, special, creative, artistic, fragile, rhythmic Ruby. She starts Kindergarten. It absolutely has not hit me.

The sun was just right today. There was a breeze at that park that was perfect and would not be compromised. The girls chased each other and swung and ate sammies that Grace packed in our picnic basket (a plastic bin with a blanket over it).

They were kind and sassy and had a few fights. On the way home we listened to the hook of a rock song over and over and over. Each time, Ruby's toothless grin shot out exuberance and happiness as her arms swung in the air like noodles. As Grace danced and shook she looked at Ruby with all the love in the world.

I'm so grateful that they have each other.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Suffering and Joy

I can't get this image out of my head. It's my sister, Miriam, holding her daughter.

Tonight I talked to an old friend who's mother is dying. Every day, her family faces the reality of losing the apex, the cornerstone, the gentle stream that is their mother.

Then I flipped through some New York Times photos of the day. Those get me every time. Who is caring for all the Somalis? Are there enough caring for all the Afghani children and earthquake, bomb and flood victims? My heart throbs and aches. My head reaches to understand.

There are so many humans to care for. And most of them, in our own very small radius of contact.

I am busy. I tell myself that I will raise my daughters to take care of people until their fingers are sore. But what if they grow too busy?

As a little girl I used to cry for people in my bed at night. I used to cry for animals. Why do people shoot deer, why do people shoot each other? How incredibly sad it made me.

I've grown up and the suffering seems so much worse on an adult scale. It depresses me. It keeps me up at night.

There is hope, of course. That's what helps me enjoy my life. And the buckets of joy in my life counter that nagging feeling that something needs to be done. But it never goes away. And I don't think it should.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Our Little Trail Blazer.

I showed up dripping with children, camera in hand. A maniacal mother with bed-head.

She was nervous and my photographing didn't help. I noticed a few minutes in that I was biting my lip. I was nervous for her, too. But there she is, taking in the change like a champ, just as children have done for generations, just as I did when I was her age.

Let it be known, she requested I walk her to class. That may not be the case next year, but I'll take it!

Off you go, love. Break a leg. We'll be waiting for you when you get home.

Sunday Photos

This summer's been spectacular.

And at times, hard. Like pull-my-hair-out hard. Like who in the world handles four kids well hard? Why would anyone willingly subject themselves to the kind of torture that follows being in the car on Saturday with all four of them running errands? When Lillie spends 87% of that time crying? Out loud, very loud.

So like I said, there's been some moments of this summer that I thought we wouldn't make it, that there were too many people crying at all times, that I'd have to call that mental institution, you know, the one I have on speed dial... just in case. Some days I looked at the clock in disbelief, as if it was impossible that it was only 3 o'clock.


There were glorious times, like a feather thrust on a breeze, and even better than that. Like me and the girls wrote our own song with lyrics and hitched a ride on it, across fields and oceans, touching down here and there when necessary. I successfully kept our summer ours. We could have been in Africa some weeks for all we knew. Our dwelling was a bunker of girls. And we liked it that way.

Change peeks over my shoulder. She stares at us, makes us feel nervous and self conscious. I refuse to flinch, and this evening as the girls played together, I snuck in and giggled along with them.

Dearest Change: You have no place here. At least not until tomorrow morning when Grace starts 2nd grade.

So I draw in a breath, just enough to fill my mama lungs, being brave as I stare at that last photo again. And again. And again. This is my life and I love it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

That lump.

One of the days we were in Florida, my older three girls and I drove to the beach and Nana took care of Matilda. She took a bottle and everything. At one point in the day, Donna grabbed her camera and shot these photos of my beautiful baby's face. I love them, I can see the way she looks at her Nana. She knows her already.

I wake up every morning and think about how beautiful Matilda is. I think about her now as she's sleeping in her crib, only a few walls away from where I sit. Her warmth, her smell, her tiny squishy nose, everything about her is ravishing.

She sounds like a kitty. She has a high pitched little cry that she does when she complains. It sounds like a joke, like she's faking it. Cold wet drool comes from her rosy lips every ten seconds, falling, plunk.... plunk.... onto her shirt or my arm.

How does anyone stop having these babies? HOW? Miraculous doesn't cut it. Amazing, life-changing, shockingly wonderful... those scratch the surface.

Is this really how women have felt always? For years upon years upon years about their own babies? Has there really been this much love in the world?

I wonder if other mothers put their cheek up to their babies cheek and stare into the mirror at the reflection. I wonder if they think the same things I do, that she looks a little like me, she'll be a mother like me someday, she'll wonder how much I loved her, she'll wonder how much I stared.

Do other mothers get that lump? The one that shows up between an aching back and putting away laundry. When the sheer speed of time hits them smack in the throat and makes their eyes well up with tears when they think about how their newborn's skin is changing. Changing into something 3 months old, which will turn into something wonderfully 6 months old, which will be on her way to being a toddler.

What will I remember about this time? What will I take with me?

Time, time, time.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More Florida.

...A few more that I got a chance to import today.

Papa and Matilda
Ali's Birthday
Kid's treasure hunt
All 12 grandkids

My favorite though-- is this last one. A few of us talking and laughing our guts off the planet. Steve was telling a story about when an Irish stewardess noticed he didn't listen to her speech about the safety features of the airplane and she marched over and reprimanded him. Steve was born in Ireland, and knows how to throw the accent around just so... he had us all dying laughing.