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Archive for May, 2010

Ducklings

I weaned Hailey last week – last Thursday to be exact. It was time, and it also felt sad.

The next evening I planned a date for Hannah and I. We got our hair cut and then headed to Alice Keck Park for a picnic dinner. There was a family of ducklings there. As we sat by the pond with few words and little need for mommy intervention I couldn’t help but think how quickly times passes. In so many ways, Hannah seems grown up these days. She can sit by the pond and not fall in. She can serve us both our picnic dinner and clean up after herself. She can decide all on her own that she’d prefer to hold off on dessert until we returned home. And so we did.

The van ride home was quiet. I could hear her counting from the backseat. I’m not sure what mathematical puzzle she was solving. Apparently she didn’t need my help. This thirty mile stretch on the 101 used to require much on the part of us parents to keep this little mind occupied. Not anymore. 

When we got home, Hannah decided that soy cream with fresh berries would do the trick. I threw in the additional option of homemade ganache. She could hardly believe her luck. She strapped on her apron and helped stir the melting chocolate over the stove. We took our sundaes upstairs and ate them out on the balcony while Phil put littlest down for the night.

As we sat in our rocking chairs with our legs crisscrossed we enjoyed the peace and quiet of the evening air. It was then that I thought back to the spot where we’d picnicked just hours before. I thought of my own little ducks. One was drifting off to sleep without her mommy’s care. The other, lankier and more sophisticated than the littlest, was keeping me company in ways she never could have in years past. As she scraped her ice cream bowl for every last drop of ganache, I was reminded of her youth in all the right ways.

They’re growing up. I pray that with each passing season I have the grace and courage to let them fly. 

Hannah Grace at Alice Keck Park in 2004.

Hannah Grace at Alice Keck in 2010.

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Treehouse

Today Hannah got the surprise of her life when we headed over to GJ’s house after school. She knew we were going there for dinner. What she didn’t know is that she and Hailey were about to receive the best early birthday present ever.

A Treehouse!

 

My mom and I often marvel over how few details one remembers from childhood. This feels especially ironic now that I am  a mother myself. It seems almost unfathomable that Hannah and Hailey won’t remember much of our daily lives considering the time and attention I give to these moments each day. 

Understanding this, I most often work off of the assumption that cumulatively these everyday happenings have lots of  potential to manifest into something remarkable in these childrens’ souls. In my worst moments, I question my sanity as I obsess over things like organic produce, overdue library books and birthday parties all the while feeling completely unphased by the fact that I’ve done so while wearing pants that have no top button but do have spit up dripping down the leg.

What does this have to do with a treehouse? A lot actually. I’m pretty sure that this is a gift that the girls will always remember. It has captured Hannah at a level that few things ever had. It’s very existence ignites her imagination. She’s dreamed of building one in this very tree for well over a year. To come over one day and find that dream realised sent her leaping! I can hardly wait to see the many adventures that take place in this special spot. 

Thank you GJ!    

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Mother’s Day

I have much to be thankful for this Mother’s Day.

My big girl continues to amaze me with all that she can do. One morning last week she asked that I stay upstairs while she made a morning snack for both of us. When I was invited back down, this is what she’d produced! We enjoyed this small feast while playing a few rounds of Uno.

Littlest has some big ideas of her own. We’re enjoying her so much and can hardly believe that she’ll be a year old in just over a month!

It turns out that Hailey is a stair-climbing, outlet-touching, wood-chewing sort of lady. Thus, the monkey cage. I’m already looking into adolescent-sized gates just in case we need one later.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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On Life and Death

 

 For the past seven years, May 1st has held an elevated status on my calendar for all the wrong reasons. It’s the day that my brother David died.

But here’s the thing. May 1st, 2003 is also the day that dear friends welcomed home their second son. This little guy’s conception and birth were nothing short of miraculous. Our friends had endured a long road of infertility. Ashton’s safe arrival marked an end to a trying season – one that we’d traveled with them. The news of David’s death and Ashton’s birth came within minutes of each other. And at the time, the combination felt impossible to process.

Exactly two months later, our daughter Hannah was born. She too had been a baby we’d waited a long time to have for different reasons. Once David died, I found myself wading through two months of pre-term labor. Ultimately, Hannah came early. Her delivery was frightening and amazing all at once. The doctors and nurses called her the miracle baby and she was. As I held our firstborn in my arms I felt incredibly blessed. My heart also ached for the brother I no longer had.

Four years later, yet another little man made his way to the outside world. He’s the son of my college roommate and treasured friend, Janna. After days of labor (I’m confident this girl could excel at marathons based on her birthing experiences), Paxton Kai was born on May 1st. We celebrated his arrival with joy and relief. And if the truth be known, I also cried that day after getting off the phone with Janna’s mom. 

As I sat across the table from a dear friend last night eating burritos, we talked about May 1st. We talked about the incredible odds involved in these births and David’s death lining up the way that they have. We talked about the incongruity of life and death and how they ultimately make very awkward bedfellows. 

Following my daughter Hannah’s birth, I can’t tell you how many times people told me how lucky or blessed or fortunate I was to have her on the heels of David’s passing. For many this little six-pound colicky bundle became the proverbial ribbon that they hoped could wrap up my pain in a tidy package and send it away.

I understand the awkwardness that accompanies death. This seems especially true when the loss is unexpected, untimely, seemingly unavoidable or any combination thereof. What I’ve also come to understand is this; the thing I unknowingly longed for in those dark days was a simple acknowledgement of the incongruity of it all. That was it. 

It turns out that life and death rub up next to each other in the most awkward of terms. I needed souls brave enough to sit within the heartache and the joy without trying to find cohesion between the two. My heart never ached so deeply. Still, my mind always knew that life and its goodness does (and ought to) carry on.

My grief demanded that I sit within these discrepancies and I suppose I wanted company. I had this at times in the most intimate of ways. Within hours of my horrible news, one friend was boarding a flight to come and be with me. Another friend was there within minutes. They held me close, cried their own tears, timed my inconceivably early labor pains, washed my dishes and somehow filled each daunting hour with their presence alone.  I’m forever grateful for those courageous individuals who didn’t try to fix it. Instead, they dared to live within those moments with the simple resolve of steadying my fragile soul.

In many ways, the past seven years have been a journey.  I needed to somehow locate a resting place within the paradox of life and death. I think I have. Come to find out, there are thousands of ways to navigate this terrain. At times I’ve tripped and fallen flat on my face. I’ve grown tired from the heat – finding myself parched with no water bottle on hand. More than once, I’ve meandered off course, having no idea which direction to go next. At still other turns I’ve found myself gaining momentum; there I’ve experienced deep satisfaction and an expansive view that moved my soul to an entirely new place. 

In the end, God’s grace has proven to bridge this chasm of life and death in ways that nothing else has. It has provided me with a deeper understanding of how beauty and depravity come alongside one another with the ability to emerge from chaos into harmony. This grace is stout. It is unwavering and entirely capable of supporting deep aches right alongside the abundant joys that this world contains. It has gifted me the time consider and the space to doubt. It has granted me the expanse to wander, and ultimately enveloped me with the assurance to return with a greater understanding and still more questions. 

Grace. It is the essence of how I seek to live life alongside loss each day this side of May 1st, 2003. I think David would be proud of the path his little sister has traveled.

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